Glad to be home but also missing Ireland

image-1So I am very much behind on this… 12 days to be exact. I had to leave Ireland in kind of a hurry and it has been go-go-go but now I have a chance to wrap up.

For those of you who don’t know, I got a job teaching 2nd grade and had to return home 4 days early to get started. I am very excited about it, it is the grade I wanted and the school and stage are amazing. I was very sad to leave Joe of course, but luckily the time apart is less this time. He is coming to see me in November!

I got home on a Wednesday, the day after I went to Bray. My parents had ordered a puppy from a breeder, a little girl named Darci, and she arrived about an hour after I landed. Since I will be moving to the area I got a job in an hour south, I ordered Darci’s brother, who I named Emmett. So Wednesday was a pretty big day! Emmett is the sweetest little guy, and he, Darci, and my parent’s one year old dog Kiera are the best of friends. Keira is so good with them! They all have the same mommy and were born a year apart. Emmett is just over 2 lbs and only 8 weeks old.

IMG_3457The day after landing, I went to sign the paperwork for my new job! I spent the next several days setting up my classroom and attending meetings, and Monday I had meet the teacher night. That was last week. We started school last Tuesday, and I have to say I have a pretty great class. What a difference from being a kindergarten IA! Today is the first day I have felt caught up enough to take a break and do this. I even cooked dinner! Sausages and potatoes, yumm!

So fast forward from last week, I spent the weekend lesson planning and apartment hunting with mom. Saturday did not go well at all in terms of the places we saw, but Sunday we saw so many nice places! I put an application in with one though before close on Sunday, and Emmett and I will be moving there soon! In the picture, he is on the left and Darci is on the right. I can’t get all 3 of them to sit still long enough to get a photo! They just love to play. Emmett is quite cuddly though when he isn’t running around with those 2, and he loves jumping on my hands while I’m typing!

Already in the last 12 days I have also been missing some of my favorite Irish foods… rock shandy, chorizo sausage (the real kind), curry potatoes, centra scones, pear Bulmers, strawberry juice, things like that. I also miss the easy access to everything via public transport or walking… I haven’t been walking as much because I’m at school and have a long commute until move-in, but when I live 3 minutes from school I bet I will get loads in with Emmett around the pond and at the park at the new apartment! Plus, my school is HUGE and it takes probably 3 minutes just to walk from the classroom to the office or related art rooms. So glad to be back but also missing it there, it was definitely home to me while I was there. And I’ll miss everyone of course, not just Joe, and hopefully we can all hang out again over my spring break!

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Tuesday- Back to Bray

Tuesday I went to the aquarium and hung out on the rock beach in Bray. I took the bus there but the Dart back, and was pretty proud of myself for making it on both without help! (Except for Joe giving me the correct bus to take, of course!)

4 Counties in 3 Days

So as I mentioned, we went to Waterford Friday night and spent part of Saturday there as well. From there, we drove to Kilkenny to visit another of Joe’s brothers and his fiancé for the night. After a lovely dinner of lasagna and garlic bread, we headed out to the pubs;, 4 local ones to be exact. They weren’t too dark or too loud, and they played great music, mostly classic hits. My kind of pubs! Sunday we headed back to Dublin to the Dublin Mountains for an incredible experience zip lining at Zip It. Our busy weekend continued from there to County Wicklow to the city of Bray for the Air Show.

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner!

Thursday evening Joe’s 2 sisters and myself went to see Dirty Dancing the musical!

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Happy birthday to Joe!

Last Wednesday (I’m very behind), we went to the White Friar Grill for Joe’s birthday dinner. It was pretty much amazing and I couldn’t stop eating. I finished my entire meal and dessert. I was a little freaked out when my appetizer arrived with eyes though! I ordered the Caesar salad and didn’t realize it came with whole prawns. Joe had to teach me to separate them (I’m such a novice)! The dessert though, my goodness! It was like lava cake with the chocolate on the outside.

Made brunch with Joe and Pat :)

We came to Waterford last night and had an amazingly delicious meal at Emiliano’s with part of Joe’s familia, and then we headed off to the pubs! At Emiliano’s I had penne with chicken and bruschetta with tomatoes and mozzarella. Most everyone else had steak but I just love pasta and I polished off the dish in no time.

This morning 3 of us tag teamed and made brunch and tea/coffee. We made sausages, rashers (ham/bacon), toast, and eggs. Yummy yummy!

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Parking in Ireland

IMG_3822I find this very nifty. While you can’t see the numbers, the black bars tell you how parking spots are left. These are pretty accurate. Almost every parking garage or lot, or car park, I’ve been to with Joe or walked past has these. There are sensors under the concrete that can tell by weight if there is a car there (not sure if it works on motorcycles or mopeds/scooters).

In the Dundrum mall/shopping center parking lot (basically their Castleton), these type of signs will tell you how many spaces are available on each floor. Once you drive onto the floor, it tells you how many spaces are available in each row, and at this particular venue there is a green light above the available space. Imagine if Castleton and Keystone had this! No more row driving. If there is only 1 space left in a row though it could mean a broken sensor and not a space, so best to go to the row with 5 or 10+ left.

By the sea with Joe :)

Went to the movies… :)

Walked to the movie theater! That’s right, I can walk there from the apartment! Takes me less time than it would to walk to the Marsh by my house. The movie Begin Again was written by the same man who wrote Once, and the music was beautiful. The movie isn’t a typical musical but about a musician making a record in NYC from the streets.

There is technically a bowling alley within walking distance as well but I’ve never seen any cars in the lot, or lights on, so not sure it actually exists. I always wanted to live within walking distance of a movie theater and bowling alley! 😀

Last week, Joe and I went and saw Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’ Movie. Mrs. Brown’s Boys is Ireland’s version of the Tyler Perry TV series. “A comedy centered on a loud-mouthed Irish matriarch whose favorite pastime is meddling in the lives of her six children.” Here is the movie description: “A company tries to shut down Mrs Brown’s fruit and veg stall. They can feck off.” It was hilarious good fun. I had to ask Joe about a few references and Dublin terms! So two good movies.

Highest Pub in Dublin?

This weekends, Joe and I went to Johnnie Foxes in Glencullen. It claims the highest pub in Ireland but is actually not. Lots of trinkets on the ceilings and wall, old school feel, and delicious food.

The highest pub in Ireland is actually claimed by 4 pubs! For anyone that feels like reading about the distinction, at the bottom I posted a letter from Johnnie Foxes in response to a curious inquirer. (I cut out the intro and end bits)

“Which is the Highest Pub in Ireland”?

Ourselves of course, in Glencullen, there is another pub as you say in your message board in Glendalough area, in Roundwood, another on the Cork, Kerry border known as the Top of Croom and lastly another in Derry.

If I may work in reverse order to clarify our “claim”:

4] Some time ago when I first launched Fox’s TV advert in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and mainland Europe, the advertising standards authority of Ireland contacted me with a complaint, now bear in mind this official watchdog has the power of authority to make a company remove its very expensive advert and lose any money spent on it, well anyway, they contacted stating they had complaints from Northern Ireland, specifically from a certain pub in “Londonderry”, who stated that we were using false advertising, my response in brief, and I mean brief was simple.
“Johnnie Fox’s claims to be the highest pub in Ireland, the term is used in accepted general terminology to pertain to the State of Ireland as opposed to the island of Ireland”, I continued with by saying that “Derry was part of the 6 counties and therefore it is accepted in common day use and legally in advertising that our claim is substantiated and correct”.
The response from ASAI was a written confirmation to our claim and permission to continue advertising, they had researched the claims from multiple parties and found in our favour.

3] The pub in Kerry is known to us and we to them on a more personal level, they are not open all year round nor in fact all day every day as one would expect from a public establishment, they do not have the interest in pursuing the “claim” with any energy and only a few occasions in the past have interacted on live radio debates with the other 3 establishments in a friendly banter to the height claim.

2] The longest running and loudest argument continues to this day with the pub in Roundwood, their claim is as the highest pub in the highest “VILLAGE” in Ireland, you see this is where it gets tricky with land titles, Johnnie Fox’s lays in “Glencullen” whish is a township and not a village as we have no post office, to be classified as a village we must have a library and post office, therefore we are a township and do in fact come under the postal district of Dublin 18 according to a telephone conversation I had with An Post.
The claim Roundwood has is absolutely official in being the “Highest Village in Ireland”, but the height of the pub is less than ours by some feet.

1] Johnnie Fox’s – the loudest claim of all, we claim it, we argue it, we prove it time and time again, we even had to point out an old guide stone hidden behind foliage on the way up to the pub showing the height at that juncture to one Irish newspaper reporter doing an “expose” on the four venues.

North and South of the Liffy

Wednesday was an exploratory day for me. I took the Luas to city center and walked north of the River Liffy, which was like stepping into an entire different city. The shops change, the styles, the accents. After exploratory visits to 2 offices of education (where I was just handed an FAQ sheet and told to look online LOL), I went to Merrion Square Park, where there is a life-size marble statue of Oscar Wilde laying on a rock, to read afterwards because it was so nice out, and from there I headed back to the apartment to cook dinner. Tuesday and Thursday were both days I spent relaxing, cleaning, applying for teaching jobs, editing pictures, things of that not as exciting nature!

The Flying Enterprise

On Monday I returned to where it all began- Cork! This is where I did lived abroad for 10 weeks and did my student teaching, as well as the city where I met Joe. I took the train down and spent the morning and afternoon walking around the city, primarily around St. Patrick’s Street. The absolutely amazing principal from the school I was placed at was able to meet me for lunch at my favorite and most memorable restaurant in Cork – The Flying Enterprise.

The Flying Enterprise is where we had lunch on my first visit back, where we had the Bro’s Club dinner for volunteers (the youth club I volunteered with during my student teaching), and where my family met me when they arrived in Ireland at the end of student teaching. Great memories! Plus, the owner is basically the nicest and most hospitable guy around. He checks on each table personally and even though I had a server he fetched my tea himself, shook my hand, and welcomed me right in.

This place also where my buddy Bro hangs out, the man who started and still runs Bro’s Club (previously Gaelic Club) after all these years. I was very sad we didn’t get to meet up this trip, but I am hoping to see him next time. Bro (nickname for him, he is a Catholic Brother) is retired but still helps out at the school he used to be a principal at, as well the school I was at: Greenmount. We led reading and math groups together for the second graders along with their classroom teacher and one resource teacher.

After lunch I got to visit the school and see how all the construction turned out. No more pre-fabs for them! The new addition was beautifully crafted, and you should see their new sensory room! I wanted to stay in there and hang out. I got to see the secretary while I was there as well, and she is fab. I miss working with her! I miss all the teachers, and I hope some time I will be able to plan a visit that will allow me to see them.

The cherry on top of the sundae- sunshine! I read 2 weather reports that said it was to rain in Cork the entire time I was there BUT the rain didn’t start until after my train started pulling out to leave the city and head back to Dublin. The weather here is entirely unpredictable… but I’ll take sunshine instead of the predicted rain any day!

Kilkenny vs. Dublin – my first hurling match!

Sunday we headed far into Dublin city to go to Croke Park (like their Lucas Oil Stadium) to see Kilkenny play Dublin in a hurling match. Hurling is an old Gaelic sport and the national sport here, but places with high Irish populations have started clubs in their countries as well. The players are the best of the best from their county, however they are not paid so the sport is ranked as amateur. Hurley is played with a bat called a hurl and a ball called a slitter and played on a field. All players wear their county flag colors for their jerseys and a helmet. There are 15 players on the field from each team at a time, one of which is in the goal. A goal is 3 points , field goal is 1 point. The ball can be kicked, slapped, bounced on the hurley, and batted across the field.

Joe obviously knows more about this, so he is going to guest post for me to explain the sport more this week! BUT Kilkenny (Joe’s home county) was victorious in being the champs for their region of Ireland!

Seaside Howth and City Center with Joe

Howth is a seaside suburb of Dublin on a peninsula that we spent Saturday afternoon at and we got there via the Dart. It is a big trawling area so we picked out a place with fresh fish caught daily from the sea for lunch. After strolling around the village, we took the Dart into the city center of Dublin to spend the rest of the afternoon in St. Stephen’s Green. We headed back to Stillorgan with enough time to get ready for dinner at Cinnamon, located in another suburb of this area, and went for drinks with one of Joe’s sisters and her husband afterwards. In the 4 weeks I have been here, most days are 65*-75* and sunny, this Saturday was no different. Love it!

Wicklow Mountains National Park

Joe and I took a hike in Co. Wicklow at Wicklow Mountains National Park. Beautiful day that ended with a picnic by the lake. The pictures vary in brightness because the sun was in and out from behind clouds.

What I found most hilarious during this trip was just minutes into our hike a group of Buckeyes (Americans from Ohio) stopped Joe for directions. Their reason? He had on an IU shirt and they figured he was American and good to ask!

Most of the activities I do or that Joe and I do together cost little to nothing. The only cost is usually for public transport, which is just a few dollars, or in the case of this park, a small parking fee and a bit of gas to go an hour out of the city.

National Gallery trip

Added a few pictures of some of my favorite paintings from the gallery. The rest are from my trip to and from the Gallery and the Luas. Ended with a trip to visit Joe’s niece and nephew. So adorable!

Dublin Zoo!

On Thursday I went to the zoo with Joe’s sister, mother, and his niece and nephew. We didn’t have the greatest weather but we did have a very good time! You obviously know your animals so instead of naming them, I added made up dialogue. It seems like a good idea at the time.

Walk near Killiney Hill

You don’t see this in Indiana! We got to go all the way down to the beach (where loads of people were swimming even at 9pm).

Packing a Picnic and Food Love

Picnic 06I’m off to have a picnic with Joe on his lunch break! Of course no picnic with the two of us would be complete without crisps and Rock Shandy (my new favorite drink). I’ve also thrown in some custard cremes (yummy cookies). For myself I packed my latest lunch obsession, smoked salmon on brown soda bread. We get to eat lunch on a bench next to the ocean! Can’t do that in Indiana.

On the lines of food (as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I love it and mention it on here), I also have a new breakfast obsession – whole wheat toast with nutella and banana slices with my cup of Barry’s Gold tea. I don’t know how I haven’t tried nutella before last  week… My favorite impulse treats here are the custard creme cookies and Haribo Starmix, which are different flavors and styles of gummies, or jellies. I promise, I don’t eat junk all the time! We try to keep it out of the apartment and just pick one treat to have here at a time, sometimes 2 (crisps usually). Luckily Joe likes these foods too, which keeps me from eating them all myself! We have fresh fruit in the fruit bowl always, usually apples and bananas, since we will both eat those.

Joe has the late shift this week, so I’ll probably be cooking most of the nights this week. Tonight I’m thinking tacos! I also found a recipe for baked mac and cheese with rashers (Canadian bacon) in the cookbook his mom got me that I want to try. We make a list of each meal we want for the week and buy only those things, lunch food, and bread or cereal for breakfast. Food here is usually bought day of or a day before and has less preservatives than American food, but our system works for us. Fridges and freezers are also quite a bit smaller so we have to account for that as well. So far we have all made it work quite well! 🙂

Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny

This weekend we went to Joe’s family house in County Kilkenny, in a town called Graig for short. We arrived Friday night and had a lovely meal of Beef Wellington, wine, and red velvet cupcakes with Joe’s parents and one of his brothers. On Saturday three of us headed to Waterford city for lunch and for me to pick up something only available at a local shop. Got to meet more of Joe’s family who were passing through the town as well!

By the time we got back, more people had arrived and by dinner time there were 9 of us ready for the BBQ!  Most of Joe’s family was present and I had such a fun time all weekend. Saturday’s BBQ menu had: burgers, chicken breast, sausages, curry potatoes (amazing), salad, white chocolate cheesecake, red velvet cupcakes, and biscuit cake. I was still full when I woke up Sunday!

Sunday we also BBQ’d, this time with a menu of: shrimp (prawns in Ireland) kabobs with peppers and onions, peanut sauce marinated pork, salad, and leftover desserts. I was so full, I didn’t have room for dessert but Joe’s mom graciously sent us back to Dublin with cheesecake! Amazing food, hospitality, and company, and all around good time this weekend! I’m exhausted, and probably need to add an extra hour or two to my walk this week from all the food I ate. (Y, can I get that brownie recipe too? :P) I also got a fantastic Irish cookbook from Joe’s mom, and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes!

Lunch in Waterford Saturday