Ireland Week 1 - the Burren & Galway

I can’t even start to describe what this trip has meant to me. I was so blinded by anxiety in prepping for this trip. Seriously the night before I was supposed to leave I started sobbing and told Parth I didn’t want to go.  I was so worried about everything - not sleeping on the flight, not making friends, people thinking I’m a bad artist. Truly though, once here it was like everything got better.

Parth was sweet and drove me to the airport (we stopped at the new Chicago Philz first!) and I even got to see Meredith at O’hare before she got on her flight to Seattle to see Connor!!

The flight over was pretty easy. I had the middle seat for the flight into Ireland and was #anxious but lucked out when the guy next to me asked how I would feel about sitting in the aisle instead so his fiance could sit with him. #winning. I ended up in the mix of a huge family taking a trip to Dingle and anyone reading this who knows me chatted with all of them, met their grandkids and at the end of the trip the joked about where they were going next year and invited me along… HA!

 Then at the airport I met up with the group at school and we all got a traditional Irish breakfast -  which was delicious by the way! - and waited for other students to arrive. Lots of awkward small talk but I then found out that no one really knew each other which made me feel so much better!

Then our bus driver picked us up. His kids came along too and made a handmade sign that said “SAIC”.  We drove about an hour through some beautiful country roads full of cows, stone fences and so much green. The area I’m staying in is the Burren, which means “rocky place”. Theres a lot of limestone here in the natural landscape. It’s a really touristy area in the summer but the locals make their living through agriculture - mostly cows and sheep. One thing I didn’t realize is that 90% of Ireland’s beef is shipped out of Ireland. Crazy!

We are staying at a house owned by the college where we are working, the Burren College of Art. Once we got to our place we settled in and some of us walked over to see the college. The college hosts a tower of a castle from the 1400s. It’s truly amazing. The college is quaint but has so much to offer! - Plus there are cows!

The next day we did a tour of the Burren and went to the Cliffs of Moher and St. Brigid’s well. It was so beautiful getting to see all of the green and stone and castles. Some of my favorite photos are below!

The Burren & the atlantic coast!

St. Brigid’s well, Celtic Church at Kilfenora, Poulanbrone (ancient burial site)

Cliffs of Moher

On Sunday night everyone was pretty tired but I convinced a group of about 8 people to walk into town to go to a whiskey pub, O’Lochlainn’s in town. Ballyvaughan is little and quaint. There’s a little grocery store here and about 3 pubs. But it is really peaceful and super busy in the summer months.

The owner, Margaret, was there working that night and made me probably the best Old Fashioned I’ve ever had. Her and the other bartender told us more about the match-making festival we learned about on our tour and even played some Irish country music for us and did a jig! It was great to get to know some of my classmates better, too!

O’Lochlainn’s has been an SAIC fave this trip. I am excited to bring Parth back here to try it out!
The next day we got our studios at the Burren College of Art (BCA) and I actually went to Galway with my roommate. She had stayed there before meeting all of us and had accidentally left some art supplies there. It was such a fun day filled with good food, weather and the cutest tea shop I’ve ever seen - Cupan Tae
The next day we did a hike or “hill walk” with a tour guide in the Burren. He seriously knew every species of flower. I had no idea - but Ireland has a lot of types of wild orchids! My favorite flower though was the Scarlet Pimpernel which of course reminded me of the book we read in Mrs. Tuckers AP Lit class!

After all this amazing sightseeing Wednesday 7/3 I finally got to work! I cozied up in my studio, walked around taking photos and just spent some time being creative. It was great!


Thursday 7/4 I met with the teachers on the trip and showed them what I had done so far. My original plan coming in was to do a lot of digital photography but they actually encouraged me to do something similar to collage. They said why don’t you print out your images and play with them that way instead of manipulating them on photoshop. cool! I spent a lot of time making collages and really started to like what I came up with!

I mentioned earlier I came into this trip being really anxious that I would be considered a “bad artist”. I’m learning there’s really no such thing. There are some SUPER talented painters and artists here but I’m learning that that doesn’t make me a bad artist. The creativity I’ve seen in myself is inspiring me and giving me so many ideas as I look into next semester.

Studio Space + My Work!

On the weekend I convinced some friends to go into town. A lot of the group seems to want to stay in but I’ve found myself being a little stir crazy - so thankful for the others in the group that like to get out and explore! One night we saw the most beautiful sunset and on Saturday we saw COWS and ate at the local tearoom - apparently so famous for its cheesecake that it’s Stephen Spielberg’s favorite!!

Plus, if you know me at all you know how happy this cow photo made me. What a treat!


& that rounds out week 1! It’s crazy to think there was so much packed into just one week — but that’s how this trip has been. So busy but so so great! This took way longer than I thought so Week 2’s post will be up at some point 😉

Delaina J

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