Day 15: Sacred Guinness

Visiting Clonmacnoise Monastic Site is something that most people, or U.S. citizens love to visit when coming to Ireland.  The monastic site has much meaning even beyond a religious and spiritual realm.  After breakfast and an hour drive to the middle of Ireland, we were greeted by a guide who had a great understanding of the area and the meaning of the site in many different religious views.  Although we were pushed for time, we did get about 45 minutes at the site.  The establishment is located right beside the River Shannon where sometimes extra flooding occurs and possibly causes issues for travels.  However, we had no trouble getting there and making good time, though it was fairly cold.  After seeing the oldest structures including crosses and several spiritual figures, we were taken outside to see the rest of the established buildings in the area.

The location included two towers with one being over 50 feet tall.  The location included several buildings of worship and spiritual meaning towards the afterlife.  The site also had a new block for modern burials that had been "bought out" for the past thirty years.  After the quick stop, we then were back on the road heading to Dublin.  One thing that is really neat about the motorways or Ireland itself, it only takes about three hours to go from Galway to Dublin, or in this case, just a couple hours from both sides of the island.

About 40 minutes out of the Dublin area, we stopped for food.  Sure enough the main hit in the rest stop was Burger King.  Once again, the food they served even though it looked familiar to that of the states included several more options and the concept of putting a mozzarella patty actually on the burger.

After the quick stop, we then finally headed back into Dublin.  On the way, we passed several places that we want to see hopefully in the future.  This included Phoenix Park and the zoo, Jameson facility, and such other places.

The last stop of the day included our guided tour of Guinness.  Again, we were rushed to finish everything as fast as we could so we may come back to the facility tomorrow based upon our own time.  We quickly moved into the reception area and made our way to the stairs for the tour.  We were given a headset to actually listen to the guide who had a microphone on so that we could hear everything she had to say with ease.  The tour took us around the five different floors of the building including the store, the brewing process, the advertisement floor about Guinness, and such other exciting views.  After finishing at the floor involving a drink taste area and an academy area to learn how to pour Guinness correctly (this we will do hopefully tomorrow), we were then left to ourselves to roam around the area and even make it to the bar above.  This is where we were able to use our tour ticket to get a free pint of Guinness.  The top floor or "sky bar" was packed - people were everywhere and were enjoying the great view from above.  We redeemed our tickets and got our pint (which even poured at the end a clover on top!) and made our way around the area.  Dr. Lehman came by and said that we had an extra 15 minutes at the factory.  With this in mind, we made our way quickly back down to the ground floor to check out the store of Guinness.

After everyone finally made their last purchases, we then made our way to the hotels to drop the guest families off and then to each drop off for the students.  After getting dropped off, both John and I unpacked everything that we took for the four-day trip and then went downstairs to the prepared dinner that Catherine had left for us to heat up.  After eating dinner, the family came back from their own trip out to shop and asked us how the weekend trip went.  We we so tired yet glad to be back home and get back to work in the classroom.

This week involves four days of being in the classroom where I will be teaching at least two classes a day.  The end of the week is our last weekend trip where we head up to Northern Ireland and Belfast.  To say that I'm excited for this week to start is an understatement.  Here is to day 15!