After only being in Ireland for a week, I’m having the best time of my life. Living in the capital city of Dublin has exposed me to the to the Irish culture but going to the county of Wicklow really pushed me out of my comfort zone. First in Wicklow, I went to the city of Bray in where we climbed Bray Hill and that is the first photo which is the view on top of the hill. This is where I discovered the phrase “Just down the road” for the Irish means it’s a long walk away. Our lovely guide all encouraged us to climb this hill but also warned us that it was just down the road. It was about a 45 minute walk and included a very steep climb. Even after being exhausted climbing the hill, I can say the view was worth it. Then we had some traditional fish and chips and sat on the beach for a long while. On the beach, I was really able to reflect because in my closeted experience of suburban Minnesota I never could imagine myself doing this. This is where the full realization hit me, that I was in Ireland. A lot of the time I think that realization just passes over your head, but it’s definitely important to think about.
Our next adventure in the county of Wicklow was to Glendalough which literally means the valley of 2 lakes. So, the next photo is me in the middle with my 2 friends at one of the lakes. Besides just seeing the lakes, we were also able to see the remnants of Saint Kevin’s monastic community. In his community, there was a classic Irish round tower along with churches and gravesites. Our tour guide was able to tell us a little about Saint Kevin’s ministry in that when he moved away he altered the cross design a little bit. So, the classic design of a Irish cross has a circle in the background because it is believed that a lot of Pagans believed in the stars and the moon. In order to relate to the Pagan’s religion, Saint Kevin altered the cross to include the circle to be similar to the moon. I thought that was just such an interesting piece of history despite not being super religious and a good way to end my first week here. I’m very excited to see what’s to come!