This morning the group was able to sleep in a little bit before heading out to Killarney National Park for an early afternoon hike. We would be spending less than 24 hours in Killarney as our bus to Cork was leaving later that night, so most everyone decided to spend half of their time hiking and then take a bus back to main street to eat lunch and mosey around the city. Killarney was very similar to Galway in the sense that the streets were winding and colorful, but that type of architecture never gets old to me. Our coordinator told me that every year the country holds competitions for the most beautiful town and is an incentive for communities to keep their towns clean and inviting, and Killarney has won this honor multiple times.
We got to the National Park around 11:30 after a quick 20-minute bus ride. Our bus driver tried to provide us with some fun facts on the way, but his monotone voice and complete lack of interest just led Sarah and I to laugh our way to the park. Once we arrived, we decided the best course of action was to travel as a group up to the park’s waterfalls. It was about an hour long hike and the views of the mountains, flowers and pathways was just incredible. I am not a nature girl by any means, but the trek up to the falls was very relaxing and it was nice to breath in the fresh air after being in cities for the past week and a half. Once we climbed up to the falls we took some pictures while being attacked by bugs before running down the path to catch the bus back to town. The hike was a nice change of pace from our normally scheduled events and was a fantastic way to explore the nature-y side of Ireland.
Once the bus returned to city center, my friends and I walked around the main streets and stopped in a few stores to shop and I quickly picked up a postcard featuring a photo of the Muckross House, which is a giant mansion at the beginning of the National Park.
From there, we stumbled upon an intriguing ice cream shop and decided to stop in for some as the award-winning plaques outside the door made us think it would be delicious and we were absolutely right. The man who owns the shop is from America, but lives in Killarney now. The ice cream is all-natural and is handmade in the town of Dingle. After sampling a bunch of the flavors, I decided on a scoop of rum raisin and a scoop of caramel in a cone. We sat outside and ate our ice cream and a woman who saw my Marist shirt asked me if I went there and once we started talking, I found out that she is from Nashua and her son goes to Marist, small world hey. We continued walking around and found a place to stop for a quick soup and sandwich lunch before returning to our hotel to pick up our bags and board a bus to Cork.
The two hour bus ride was a breeze compared to the one to Killarney and I put on some Tom Odell before falling asleep for the majority of the ride. Once in Cork, we were given our room assignments and of course my room was messed up. There was only one bed and the hotel didn’t have any other double rooms so they moved us to their apartment complex a few doors down and it actually worked out well. I had my own room for the night and the apartment even had a lounge area, but we had to schlepp our luggage out of the apartment and into a new room the next morning, but I’m definitely enjoyed the nice amenities for the night.
After our room situation was sorted out, everyone got dressed up and we walked to our group dinner at the Four Liars Bistro. This was the first time our entire group had gone out to dinner together and having it paid for by the school wasn’t a bad perk. We had an amazing 3-course meal and everyone went around sharing laughs and our favorite memories from the trip so far, mine being the Trad on the Prom and the Temple bar pub crawl in Galway and Dublin, respectively.
Everyone walked back from dinner completely full and decided to call it an early night. I haven’t seen Cork at all yet, besides the bus station, our hotel and the street the restaurant was on, but it should be fun to explore tomorrow. Sarah and I are planning on going to the English Market, which is supposedly a delicious farmer’s market as well as kayaking on the River Lee with the majority of the group tomorrow night. Cork is much different from the past two towns we have been in and it hasn’t really struck my fancy thus far, but I hope to develop a better opinion tomorrow when I am out and about on the streets.
All Photography by Emily Houston