The prior weekend was the first long excursion weekend of my study abroad. It took me to Glenstal Abby, Dingle, and Killarney. It was without a doubt one of the most impressive experiences I have had.
Glenstal Abby is a Benedictine order of monks. One of my professors is a member of this community. The trip to Glenstal consisted of an impressive tour of the castle like structure. Inscribed on the main gate was the word PAX, meaning peace in Latin. After our tour of this impressive castle some of us had the chance to celebrate mass with the monks. It was an unique experience has they still use Gregorian chant music. I must say it was incredibly beautiful.
Once we had said our good byes to the monks of Glenstal my group and I departed for Dingle. It is a small town that is located on the scenic Dingle peninsula. On our arrival the group got lost trying to find our hostel, despite the small size of the town. Our living situation was a little cramped as we had four people in a room that was about 6x8 feet.
Our next day consisted of an unusual opportunity; we had a free day to explore Dingle. This consisted of our group herding around the town looking around shops, going to aquariums, walking to the shore, and an amusing hurricane simulator. The evening finished strong as our group received the news of the Jonnies beating the Tommies. For those who do not know St. Johns and St. Thomas are rivals. On hearing the news our group began chanting down the streets of dingle drawing stares of clueless locals.
Once our stay at Dingle was completed we boarded the bus once again and began our drive to Killarney. Killarney is one of my favorite cities to date. It presents an unique feel. Additionally the tallest peak in Ireland is not far. This of course enticed many of our group to go climb this. We had already climbed one mountain (Crough Patrick) a week before. Crough Patrick was about 2,500 tall. The mountain we climbed was named Carrauntoohil. It is a little over 3,400 feet tall. This mountain creates and impressive shadow on the landscape. I distinctly remember our initial descent still in disbelief at what we were about to climb.
We were lucky on the day we decided to climb as it was the clearest day of the week. Once our group was together we began our walk to the base of the mountain. After a decent walk one of my fellow students asked own of our guides about how far we were and the guide replied, “Oh we have not even started.” Not long after that comment he pointed at a jagged wall and said “alright we are going to climb up right here, this is the first level of three.” At this point many of us became giddy with excitement, and anxious about what was in store for us. It took about three hours to complete the hike up to the top, six hours round trip. Our descent down took us to a path known as the devils ladder. It was aptly named as it consisted of sheer drops with jagged rocks jutting out. In addition a small stream poured into the path making it wet and slippery. Luckily for our group there were no major issues on our way down and we all made it back safely.
At this point the group and I were exhausted and ready for the long bus ride back, hoping to grab some shut eye. The bus ride back must have been the quietest bus as a good 80 percent of us were fast asleep. It was a fitting end note to an excursion of new heights.