The Gypsy Wanders Dublin!

Our first adventure in Ireland started with a visit to the city of Dublin.  I did not spend as much time in Dublin as I would have liked, or the rest of the Rock Star Tour participants did, because my flight arrived tardy.  My original travel plans were to fly from RDU in North Carolina to JFK in New York and then on to Dublin.  Sigh, even the best laid plans go awry at times.  By the time I made the 2 hour drive to RDU the plane was delayed.  No sweat, I can still make the connection.  By the time I cleared security and reached the gate, the plane was delayed past the point of making my connecting flight from New York to Dublin.  Instead I jumped on the flight leaving RDU to Heathrow in London.  Once there, I was stranded until my connection to Dublin left many hours later.  Made for a very cranky me, especially since it was an overnight flight.

Temple Univ  Govt bldg

Since I had such a long layover in London, I did miss some of the sights in Dublin.  I missed accompanying the group to National Museum Kildare St. & Collins Barracks, and Trinity College Library to see the Book of Kells.  I will rectify this when the students and I return for our Study Abroad Ireland trip next year.

Once in Dublin, I checked into the Camden Court Hotel.  It was lovely.  The room was comfortable and pretty and they served us a proper Irish breakfast the next morning.  A traditional Irish breakfast is large with eggs, rashers, pudding, assorted breads, and fruits.  Rashers are what the Irish call bacon and it is similar to what we call Canadian bacon here in the states.  It is much meatier and less fatty than American bacon.  Puddings can either be white or black, and both are made with pork and I think oatmeal as a base.  (Niamh correct me if I’m wrong about the oatmeal)  White pudding also contains pork fat and black pudding  has blood.  They are shaped as a sausage and the one’s I tasted were sliced into little rounds.  I was brave and tried 1 little round of each.  While not my favorite part of breakfast they were okay.  My favorite part of breakfast was the brown bread.  It was a dense whole grain bread that was absolutely delish.


Once refreshed from traveling, I met Niamh, my new Captain and leader from the Institute of Study Abroad, Ireland and we headed off to Temple Bar to meet the rest of our group, listen to some “trad” music, and sample a pint of Guinness.  Trad music is how the Irish refer to traditional Irish music. Trad music is performed live in pubs and is great craic!  This is where I meet the people who were to become my new found friends by the end of the week, although I didn’t know it at the time.  All I remember was that I had been awake for 2 days and I was looking at a group of strangers, and I could not hear anyone over the music. By the end of the week we had become a herd.

After my Irish breakfast the next morning, I wandered around Grafton Street, one of the 2 main shopping attractions in the city center.  It is full of high end shops and places to sample some tasty Irish cuisine.  I had a few hours before we were due to leave for Bundoran, so I wandered around.  As I wandered, I became obsessed with the Georgian architecture.

Georgian architecture (circa 1714- 1830) developed in the residential areas of Dublin and consisted of colorful doors, sweeping terraces, rich elaborate plasterwork, ornate fireplaces, graceful staircases, and craftsmanship in woodworking.  This style of architecture was for the rich.  Many of these wealthy families left Dublin during the famine of the 1800s and these buildings turned into tenements.  They later became restored as family homes.

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I fell in love with the doors as I wandered to and from Grafton Street.

Teachers Club 3

Teachers club 2  Teachers Club

I also had the opportunity to see some of the interior features when our group visited the Teacher’s Association Club the night before.  We had dinner there and were treated to some lovely trad music and Irish poetry.  Our hosts from the teachers club were gracious and charming.  I could tell they loved performing for us.  I even met Niamh’s dad.  I almost met her son as well, but he escaped before she could capture him.  🙂

It was a wonderful way to spend our first day or two in Ireland.  It gets even better from here, once we travel West.


Speaking Irish

Ireland is a country that speaks two languages – English and Irish.  The language we refer to as Gaelic, the Irish refer to as Irish.  As I traveled around Ireland, I noticed that all road signs were in both English and Irish.  I was determined to learn a few words in Irish while I visited.

Let me first get my teacher talk out-of-the-way with a little background on Irish and then I will show off a few words I learned while visiting.

Gaelic languages are spoken from Southern Ireland through the Isle of Man and to Northern Scotland and derive from the Celtic language group.  There are 3 modern branches of the Gaelic languages: Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish (Gàidhlig),  and Manx (Gaelg).

The family tree of the Gaelic languages is as follows:

  • Insular Celtic

Insular Celtic languages are the Celtic languages that originated in the British Isles.

  • Primitive Irish

The oldest known form of the Gaelic languages and  is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the Ogham alphabet in Ireland and western Great Britain from around the 4th century to 7th or 8th century.


Ogham, sometimes called the “Celtic Tree Alphabet,” is an Early Medieval alphabet used primarily to write the Old Irish language. There are approximately 400- 500 Ogham inscriptions on stone monuments throughout Ireland and western Britain.

  • Old Irish

Old Irish  is the name given to the oldest form of the Gaelic languages for which extensive written texts are extant. It was used from the 6th to the 10th centuries, by which time it had developed into Middle Irish.

  • Middle Irish

Middle Irish is the name given by historical philologists to the Gaelic language spoken in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man from the 10th to 12th centuries.

  • Modern Irish

Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of the population. Irish enjoys constitutional status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland. It is an official language of the European Union and an officially recognised minority language in Northern Ireland.

Slane 2

Oh Captain, my Captain, giving us a breif history of Slane Castle on the way from Dublin to Bundoran.


The first Irish I heard, was a warm welcome by my Captain, and now friend, Niamh.  Upon meeting her in Dublin she proclaimed “Céad mile failte!” This is pronounced as “kade meela fawlcha,” and translated into English means 100 thousand welcomes.  What a lovely way to greet someone.  Irish people have a wonderful way of speaking that can make you want to converse for hours.

I also learned a few words that were on all those road signs as we traveled from Dublin to spend time in Bundoran in Co. Donegal.  We rode in a bus east and north stopping along the way to see interesting areas.  Some Irish words I learned were:

  • Cille (sounds like kill) – means church
  • Baile (bally) – means town
  • Dun – Fort
  • Dun e gal – fort of the foreigner, the name of the Co. and a town we visited

Two other interesting words I learned were Cara and CraicCara means friend.  Many of the people I spent time with on our trip became me cara.  The other, craic (sounds like crack) means fun.  We had great craic in Ireland, especially in 51 pub with me cara Connie on his birthday.  Pub 51 pours a good pint 😉

Well, that seems like enough random musing for today.  Stay tuned for more of my Gypsy escapades around Western Ireland….

Western Ireland – The Rockstar Tour

As I have mentioned briefly in recent posts, in November I traveled to Ireland in order to preview a possible study abroad trip for the college.  I knew beforehand that unless something went really wrong, that the students would like Ireland and it would be a candidate for a trip in May of 2014.  What I didn’t expect, as a Latin American archaeologist, was to really fall in love with Ireland.  It was definitely the people.  No if, ands, or buts about it.  I was completely enraptured by their love of their country, their culture, and just people in general.  They want to draw you in and share the culture and country they love.

Irish people are warm, inviting, expressive, and colorful.  I picked up my favorite new saying on that trip – “We do what we want, because we’re Irish!”  I have paraphrased this from an Irish gentleman my friend and I met standing by a fire at the base of the Hill of Tara.  Two things are interesting about this.  First, there were several men loitering around a fire with a scruffy looking dog for no apparent reason.  When we asked what they were doing, that was the answer we were given.  The second is that I am in no way Irish by ethnicity, but have adopted the phrase none the less.  🙂

Fam Trip of USA University Study Abroad Academics 2012

So, for the next few weeks I would like to share some of the things I did and learned while traveling around Western Ireland.  I went there to preview potential activities and accommodations for a possible study abroad trip during summer of 2014 (Ecuador is this summer).  I was part of a group of educators that visited Ireland.  I have taken to calling it the Education Rockstar Tour.  Why?  Well because we were treated wonderfully by everyone involved in planning the trip.

We began our trip with a short stop in Dublin.  Mine was even shorter than the rest of the group since my trip over the Atlantic got waylaid by a 6 hour stop at Heathrow Airport in London.  Boo!  I missed a few things in Dublin, but will remedy that when I return with students.  What I did see of Dublin was interesting.

Bundoran 3  Bundoran 2
Bundoran 4

The majority of the trip I was in Western Ireland, based out of the town of Bundoran in Co. Donegal, 3 hours northwest of Dublin.  Bundoran and Co. Donegal are staggeringly beautiful.   In Irish (what the Irish people call the Gaelic language) Bundoran is known as Bun Dobhráin, meaning “the foot of the little water.”  It is a seaside town with lots of interesting outdoor activities such as surfing, horseback riding, and golf.  Bundoran has a thriving tourism season that begins in June.

Bundoran Bay Bundoran Bay 2

Bundoran bay 5 Bundoran Bay 6

Bundoran Bay 7 Bundoran Bay 8

The Western Ireland Tourism Bureau describes it as “independent, untamed, and exciting.” It is.  Co. Donegal is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on three sides with lovely beaches and beautiful cliffs.

I would like to pause for a brief message – Many people in Bundoran worked very hard to make sure we were able to create a trip that students would love to experience.  Niamh from the Institute of Study Abroad Ireland, John at the Aparthotel, Collie at Donegal Adventure Center, and Paddy at La Sabbia.

Hope you all enjoy the Education Rockstar Tour chronicles as much as Peru.

For those of you who can’t wait another second and are interested in learning more right now:

Discover Bundoran

Institute of Study Abroad Ireland

Atlantic Apartotel

Donegal Adventure Center

La Sabbia

Whats Inside a 2,000-Year-Old, Shipwreck-Preserved Roman Pill? | Surprising Science


Really interesting article about medicine found on a shipwreck

Whats Inside a 2,000-Year-Old, Shipwreck-Preserved Roman Pill? | Surprising Science.

Hola Enero

January is here.  The holidays are over.  Our decorations have been returned to their boxes until next winter, gifts are all opened, the sweet, decadent treats have been eaten, and all the egg nog drank.  Most of us are lamenting our over indulgence in just these things and are now vowing to turn over a new leaf.

There are 2 things that January bring to mind for me.  The first is mildly irritating.  My gym will be bursting at the seams with all the people who have made a New Year’s resolution to be more fit.  Admirable, but they hog up all the elliptical machines and I have to wait extra long to get my 5k in for the day.  I console myself with the notion that this too shall pass and by mid-February I will have more prime-time access to my favorite elliptical machine.  Yes, us gym regulars have favorite machines to work out on.  Silly, but true.

The other thing I associate with early January is the start of the new semester.  I love the first day of school.  Geeky, but also true.  For those of us who are still on campus at the end of fall semester and return to campus before classes start, it is too quiet.  I miss the students – yes, even when they are naughty.

On the 1st day there is so much promise.  The building come alive with students, walking, talking, and sometimes looking around with confusion about where to go next.  When I arrive in my classroom, they are all there.  Yes, 100% attendance, it only happens again on final exam day.  The difference between that day and today is that today they are excited to be there; eager to see what possibilities the course has to offer them.

Pencils have sharpened points, notebooks are crisp and white. They talk, they contribute, they still think I am cool.  This is all before the mid-semester doldrums hit or they realize that I actually expect them to turn in work.


Archaeology students surveying a property in James City.

Today we talked of many things – what archaeology is, what they thought it was, if they will have a chance to try it themselves, places archaeologists go. No, we don’t do dinosaurs.  No, I don’t carry a whip and X never marks the spot.

I spoke of doing fieldwork in North Carolina, Florida, Mexico – both on land and underwater.  I make the same 1st day joke I do every semester – I became an archaeologist because they let me have a machete.  They always smile. Yep, cool factor goes up a little.

We also talked about places students can go – Peru, as the students did last year; Most of you have learned all about it too.  This year is Ecuador.  Hopefully, you will hear about our progress towards that trip this semester and what we learn once we return in May.  I started recruiting participants for Ireland as well.  While we wait for Ecuador to come alive, I shall in the coming weeks talk about the things I learned while previewing the Ireland trip in November.

IMAG0338  IMAG0329

Comparative Cultures students participating in the Building Community through Art Project with artists from the Dominican Republic in October.

Maybe one or two of my new archaeology students will come along on the Ireland trip, maybe a few will sign up for our summer field school.  I hope all of them will enjoy the course and learn a little more about archaeology than they came in with.

I love the 1st day of school only in the way a teacher can….

Chair of Social Science, Humanities,
& Foreign Languages

Liberal Arts & University Transfer
Craven Community College

800 College Court
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252.638.7328
Fax: 252.638.3231

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