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A Secret Castle is the Best Kind of Castle

Posted by: under Adventure travel, Europe, Travel Updated: January 24, 2012 - 11:07 AM

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”

-John Muir

One of the reasons I am so in love with the University of Limerick is because of its beautiful, vividly green, and natural campus. The river Shannon running through the center with swans casually hanging out, the secret streams and miniature waterfalls sporadically placed between buildings, and the rolling hills watchfully enveloping the perimeter make it a lovely place to live if you happen to be someone who thrives upon the outdoors. Since my school in the states is relatively small, it’s a treat to be able to constantly explore the massive Limerick campus- and I’m serious, it looks like there could be a leprechaun hiding behind every corner! Yes, it’s rainy- but that’s the price you pay for living in a neon green wonderland, right??

Here’s a little story that exemplifies one of the other massively cool parts about Ireland: CASTLES. One of my favorite activities since I’ve been at Limerick has been attempting to explore the campus on nice days, and finding little nooks and crannies I didn’t know existed! On one of the nicest days last semester (a.k.a. it wasn’t raining or hailing for once), I decided to take an afternoon walk along the river Shannon. It was sunny and beautiful, the river was sparkling, and the path was completely empty except for me and the occasional dog-walker.

The path to the castle...muddy, but beautiful!

The path to the castle...muddy, but beautiful!

See, I wasn't kidding about the occasional dog-walker! AND IT WAS SUCH A NICE DOG.

See, I wasn't kidding about the occasional dog-walker! AND IT WAS SUCH A NICE DOG.

 

Taking advantage of the lovely weather, I kept on walking after several options to turn around. My head was down for most of the time in a relatively futile attempt to save my rainboots from the muddy slush that the path had turned into after so much rain! All of a sudden, I looked up.

To my left were huge, abandoned ruins of a CASTLE. WHAT?! A castle was just sitting there, hanging out, within walking distance of my village?? No signs, no markings, no gate, separated this castle from being an anonymous object. I stopped for a minute and gaped with my mouth opened, then immediately opened my phone to call my friend Bridget in glee.

Oh hello, castle!

Oh hello, castle!

Still giddy over our find...

Still giddy over our find...

Naturally, I brought her back the next day so we could explore it together. We weren’t the first to find the ruins, as they were covered in graffiti already from some clever kids who apparently couldn’t afford an easel. Nothing could take away from the grandeur of this ancient ruin, though! With a bit of deft climbing, we defied gravity (and probably a few safety standards…don’t try this at home) and climbed to the top of the castle on some stairs that were almost completely intact (AFTER THOUSANDS OF YEARS. THIS WORLD IS COOL). Sitting at the top of the castle, gazing over Limerick fields, I fell in love with Ireland all over again.

Not a bad view...

Not a bad view...

The steps we climbed...they're more stable than they look, Mom!

The steps we climbed...they're more stable than they look, Mom!

I never said the climb to the top was a particularly easy journey...

I never said the climb to the top was a particularly easy journey...

Bridget in front of our favorite Ireland find.

Bridget in front of our favorite Ireland find.

There’s not a lot of countries where you can take an afternoon walk and find an ancient ruin on the side of the road…but Ireland is one of them. Lucky me!

Stay tuned for more posts about Rome, Barcelona, Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, and London (I’ve been busy…)!

P.S. Photo credits to Bridget McQuillan, more of her work can be found at http://cargocollective.com/bridgetmcquillan.
 

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