Archive

It’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day and we have put a fun Gaelic Girl Guide to Irish Cocktails together for you. Enjoy all you Limerick Lasses and Cork Colleens :)

Have a wonderful holiday!!

New Blogging Website

The Gaelic Girls have decided to test out Word Press. For the most recent updates on the Gaelic Girl trips and activities check out their new blog… http://gaelicgirlprogram.wordpress.com

Why are Americans so Obese compared to the Irish?

There are a few things you notice when you come to Ireland from the States. First, the fashion here is completely different then it is at home (I’ve seen multiple people with blue hair and mullets). Second, there are a lot of teen mothers (in my opinion, more then there are in the States) and third, the people here are a lot skinnier then they are in the States. This prompted me to do some research on why Americans are so obese compared to the Irish and other people in general.

My first finding was that America is the 2nd most obese country in the world!  (Mexico was just ranked number one on July 9th). I’ve been to multiple countries and I noticed in all of them that there weren’t that many obese people. I also found out that Ireland is not on the list of the top 25 most obese countries. Research also showed me that the most obese county in the United States is the county right next to mine! This research really didn’t give me the answers that I was looking for so I decided that the best way to find out was to go out and experience Ireland for myself.

My first stop on my research was in the restaurants. I decided that eating some of the food from Ireland would maybe help me understand. The first restaurant I went to I noticed one thing when the food came out and the portions here are about half the size of what they are in the U.S. They are also probably double in price. I’m not saying that I was still hungry after eating my food, they give you just the right amount, but if food is more expensive maybe people won’t buy as much. I also noticed that at fast food chains like McDonalds, the beef is Irish beef, it’s not the processed stuff that they use in the U.S. This made me wonder if most food here in restaurants is more organic and isn’t filled with all the processed junk they put in food in America.

My next stop was to the grocery store. I had to pick up groceries anyway I decided to take my time and really look at everything that the stores had to offer. I went into Fresh Market in Smithfield and I noticed a lot of organic food. The meat was organic, the eggs were organic and the vegetables were all organic as well. I thought maybe this was only the case at this store but as I started shopping at other locations I noticed the same thing. There is a lot of organic food. The organic food obviously wouldn’t be filled with chemicals and other stuff that is placed in processed food in the States. Organic food is healthier for you. So if you are eating more natural food then you are less likely to gain a ton of weight. I also noticed that they had a limited supply of junk food. If you go into a grocery store in the States they will have an entire aisle filled on both sides with chips, crackers, pretzels, party mix, candies etc. This food is fattening and unhealthy. If the Europeans don’t have all the junk food offered to them then they cant possibly get fat from it.

The next part of my research was one of the more surprising ones. Exercise is not a big thing in this country. People in the city do walk all over the place and even in the suburbs they don’t have drive thru banks, coffee shops, fast food places etc. so it forces people to go out and walk. But when it comes to going to the gym or going on a jog, the people here don’t really do it. They might show up to a marathon and not have trained one day for it. They just go with the flow and don’t need to prepare. I thought this was strange; so many people at home go jogging every morning before work. I only see maybe 2 or 3 people out on the street a week out for a run! So if exercise isn’t helping them stay skinny is it really just the food size and portions?

My last part in the research was the amount of smoking that people do in Ireland and Europe in general. It’s a proven fact that when you try to quit smoking you are likely to gain weight (sometimes 10-15 pounds). People normally replace one addiction (nicotine) with another like candy or chocolate. So if all these people in Ireland are smoking then why aren’t they gaining weight when they quit? Do they have a plan written out with things to avoid like chocolate cravings? Do they just consume a lot of water and have healthy snacks to make their metabolism move faster?

I think that the research shows that the way that the food is served here (smaller portions) and since the food is more organic and less processed, it helps to keep the country less obese.

Gaelic Girls Riley and Becca’s views of Ireland

 

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Massachusetts Gaelic Girl:  Riley Barry

Living in Ireland and getting to know the culture has been an amazing experience thus far.

Working in a day service for disabled adults has been such a rewarding experience. I did not realize how different teaching procedures and classrooms would be from at home. Whether it be how classrooms run, or how the organization itself is conducted, I have learned so many things I plan to bring back to the States.


From the moment I stepped off the plane, I have fallen in love with the Irish culture. Everyone here is so friendly! I have really enjoyed our trips to Galway and Cork, and spending time at authentic Irish pubs. I will never get sick of listening to Irish music and meeting friendly people who will talk your ear off with old Irish tales. 


I am really looking forward to our trip to Belfast. We are yet to conquer Northern Ireland so I am excited to see what it has in store for us Gaelic Girls!

 

New York Gaelic Girl: Becca Herron 

I tried to not have too much expectation and come into this whole experience completely blind. Though I did think that I would have an easier time with the language. Yes they speak English here, but some of the words are not even comparable to our English language. I have learned though that when the person looks at me funny or starts laughing than I said something that is “American”.

Here I have a sports marketing internship. The company coordinates running races, triathlons, duathlons, and adventure races. Since the first day I stepped foot in their very small office, I have learned so much. I have been able to see the work that it takes to put on a one-day event. It is unbelievable to see how much work gets put into an event that usually lasts less than 12 hours. I hope to take some of the Irish ways back to the US with me.

The agriculture here is absolutely amazing! The grass is so GREEN! I have really loved traveling outside of the city and seeing the land and the suburbs. As much as I enjoy the trips on the weekends out side of the city, I really enjoy how everything is in walking distance. 

Before I came I had search places on Google maps and had though that I would have to take the Dart everywhere. I was so wrong; I can walk from one end to the other in less than an hour.

My time here is jammed packed with things to do. I am going to make sure that I do not leave any rock unturned.

 

 

Kilmainham Gaol

Saturday was the first free weekend we have had since arriving in Ireland. I spent the morning trying to figure out what I would be doing in Dublin. I didn’t just want to sit in my apartment and do nothing all day.

Before I came over here someone suggested to me that I should go visit Kilmainham Gaol. It was a part of Irelands history and a very interesting spot. So I decided that I would go on my day off.

Walking to the Gaol I got to see a different side of Dublin. I had never been past the Guinness Storehouse so it was interesting to take in the sights and see new things on my walk.

When I arrived at the Gaol, I had to wait a half hour for my tour to start so I explored the 3 floors of the museum. In the museum it had interesting facts about the building of the gaol, the prisoners and the eventual closing of the gaol.

Kilmainham Gaol was first built in 1796; it was called the “New Gaol” and was run by the Grand Jury of County Dublin. Public hangings were a very common punishment for laws broken in Dublin and many of them took place in front of this gaol, (until the early 1820s). Eventually a smaller hanging cell was built in the gaol in the late 1800s where prisons were taken to be hanged.

When the Irish Famine hit, many Irishmen and women figured out that if they committed crimes they would be placed in jail and were given food 3 times a day. This was one of the ways that people survived during the famine period.

There was no segregation of prisoner’s men, women and children, in the gaol, were imprisoned up to 5-10 people in a cell. They were given a single candlestick for light and it had to last them 2 weeks. The cells that the prisoners were placed in were originally made for one person, so they only had one very small bed inside. Children were allowed to be arrested for theft and the youngest child to ever be placed in Kilmainham was just 5 years old!

The Gaol was eventually closed in the early 1900s after the Easter Rising/Rebellion. Many soldiers and citizens were executed by the Irish Free State during this war and so the gaol was seen as a reminder of a horrible time in Irish history. There was a plan to reopen Kilmainham in the 1920s but that idea was eventually shot down. The restoration process began by former prisoners and prison guards in the 1960s.

Today the gaol is used for tours for the Irish and tourists. I found it very interesting to be taken all around the different parts of the gaol. The tour guides even let you go inside some of the cells so you really get to see how tiny they are. I think that one of the most interesting parts of the gaol is the Victorian Wing (sometimes referred to as the East Wing). It is just so different then the other sections of the gaol and the way the area is set up is almost uniquely beautiful.

Kilmainham Gaol was definitely an interesting part of my journey in Ireland. I love learning about history of different places and Kilmainham taught me something that I hadn’t known about the history of Ireland!

Gaelic Girls Kaitlin, Kelly and Victoria’s views of Ireland

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The Girls are now half way through with their summer abroad in Dublin. They have been exploring the entire country of Ireland, taking in the culture, trying new foods and seeing historical buildings in the country. Here are the first 3 Gaelic Girl’s views and experiences of Ireland so far! 

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Maryland Gaelic Girl: Kaitlin Carroll 

When I came to Ireland, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle the rainy weather and different accents, but so far I have enjoyed working for my Irish Tourism Company and exploring all of Ireland’s gems.

In addition to that, the weather has been delightful! What’s not to like? I love the city atmosphere, travelling on day tours, and interacting with the people in this different culture. In fact, this past weekend I attended a hurling match, which happened to be Dublin’s first win since 1961! Guess I am a good luck charm!

I have also enjoyed going to the pubs and enjoying the traditional Irish music. In the four weeks left, I am looking forward to our final day trip to Giant’s Causeway and the River dance concert we are to attend, as well as exploring Dublin, where I live. I am lucky to have had this experience and would definitely come back!

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Illinois Gaelic Girl: Kelly Ricketts 

My time in Ireland so far has been most enjoyable! I have settled into my internship with an organization for Irish writers and I am both enjoying myself and learning a lot – some of which I will be able to use in the English classes I teach back home.

In terms of travel and experiencing the Irish culture, I feel as though everything I do is the coolest thing ever! Two weekends ago – our weekend on the west coast was filled with some amazing sightseeing and experiences: Kylemore Abbey, the Cliffs of Moher, Burren, and the countryside. All of it was breathtaking!

This past weekend I wandered around Dublin where I never seem to go out without finding some new and interesting thing to see and do. Visiting the Kilmainham Gaol was certainly historical, haunting, and humbling all at the same time.

Next week I will start an Irish dance class, which was high on my list before I even left for Ireland. Needless to say, I am very excited about that experience! We have only three and a half weeks left here in Ireland, I’m anxious to fill it with as much fun, adventure, and learning as possible.

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Pennsylvania Gaelic Girl: Victoria Wain 

When I came to Ireland, I expected to see green fields and sheep all over the place. To my surprise Dublin was just like any other city, very touristy and had different people and cultures to learn about all over!

I wouldn’t say that I am in love with the weather but the Heat Waves that Ireland has seen twice this summer has been a really nice surprise. It hasn’t really rained much and getting sunburnt might be one of the highlights of my trip! (Just kidding, Kylemore Abbey was by far my favorite!)

Being able to interview Traditional Irish Musicians, and people in the Fashion industry has been quite the experience. I have learned so many new things from the people of Ireland!

I am looking forward to the next 3 and half weeks that I have left here in Ireland. The Guinness Storehouse and River Dance are on my list of things to do before I leave this amazing country. I have a feeling that when August 3rd comes around I won’t want to go home! 

The Irish Heat waves: ’95, ’06 and Summer 2013!


Before I came over here everyone told me that it was going to rain all the time, it would never be sunny and that I wouldn’t be getting my tan this summer. But looking out the plane window I noticed that it wasn’t raining in Ireland! I was both happy and surprised.

After I collected my bags from the airport I went to meet my driver, Philip, who would be taking me to my apartment. I found him; we walked out to the car, and started to drive off to my new summer home. The first thing that Philip said to me in the car was “Don’t you just love this weather? It hasn’t rained in a week!” What I didn’t know was that that sentence would be one that I would be hearing on a regular basis. Another phrase I would be hearing a lot would be “ You haven’t experienced the rain yet! It normally is a downpour” and lastly, “Don’t you just love the Heat Wave!”

At first I thought people were just mentioning the weather to me to start a conversation or to keep a conversation going but I soon found out that the weather is a topic of everyday conversation. The Irish are obsessed with discussing the weather both good and bad.

During my first week in this beautiful country I experienced the Irish “Heat Wave” for most of the week. When I first heard the term “Heat Wave” I assumed that meant it would get into the 90s. But the “Heat Wave” here is any weather over 70 degrees Fahrenheit! Since the summers here don’t get all that warm, anything in the 70s or higher is unreal to the Irish. We will be experiencing another “Heat Wave” this weekend and the beginning of next week! I have never been so excited for weather in the 70s in my entire life!

The last “Heat Wave” that Ireland had was in July of 2006.  Temperatures during that month were well above average. The highest recorded temperature was in Ardfert, Co. Kerry. It reached 81 degrees Fahrenheit. There was also 29 consecutive days in July with temperatures over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. By the end of July 2006, temperatures returned to the average for Irish summers. The last “Heat Wave” before the summer of ’06 was in 1995!

Summers here are a lot different from what I am used to at home. Normally it might be in the 90s during the day and hits the lower 80s at nighttime. Here it is just cold to me all the time. Warmer weather is considered the low to mid 60s and the heat is anything over 70. I also think that it is a little strange here that it stays light out for such a long time. The sun rises at around 4:30 or 5am and doesn’t set until around 11 at night!

Everyone loves to talk about the weather no matter where you go in the world but the Irish take it to a new level! 

Gaelic Games!

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On Friday, the Gaelic Girls and I went to the American College Dublin for our lesson in Gaelic Games. We joined 7 other American students, our professor Colum and Damien, who was in charge of the lessons. We began our lesson with a brief history of Gaelic Games, the rules of each of the games and how we would be playing them.

Gaelic Games are traditional sports in Ireland. They consist of Hurling, Gaelic Football, Camogie, Rounders and Gaelic Handball. In the late 19th Century, Gaelic Games were dying out in Ireland. The GAA (The Gaelic Athletic Association) was established in 1884 to keep the sports alive. Since then Gaelic Games have been the most popular sports in all of Ireland! (Based off attendance at games).

Gaelic Football is the most popular of Gaelic Games and is played by 2 teams of 15 on a rectangular grass pitch. At each end of the pitch is a H-shaped goal. (It sort of looks like a Soccer goal and a Football Goal post put together as one). The object of the game is to score by driving the ball through the goals.

Another popular Gaelic Game is Hurling. Hurling is a stick and ball game played by 2 teams of 15 on a rectangular pitch. Just like Gaelic Football, Hurling has the same H-Shaped goal. This sport is over 3,000 years old and is the fastest field sport! 

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We began by starting with Hurling. He gave each of us a Hurly (the stick that you use during the games) and a tennis ball. I think he was afraid that we would hurt ourselves if we used the actual ball that they use in the games. (It is like a baseball). Damien had us pair up in groups and practice hitting the ball back and forth, scooping the ball up off the ground and passing the ball by hand to our partner. It reminded me of a mix of Lacrosse, Golf, Baseball and Hockey. Damien then put us on two teams of 6 and we had a relay race. My team won both of the relays!!! 

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Next we started our lesson in Gaelic Football. It was pretty simple to learn. We were kept on the same teams and practiced the different ways to kick, hit and pass the ball to each other. We then started a game. My team was losing for most of the game. I scored two goals, one of them being the game winner. We won 4 to 3. Gaelic Football is sort of like a mix of American Football, Rugby and Soccer. I think that it could get very violent and aggressive if we would have been playing an actual team instead of each other. 

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Learning these Gaelic Games was a very interesting and fun activity to do while being here in Ireland. It would be interesting to go to a Hurling or Gaelic Football game at Croke Park before we travel home in a month! 

 

Fourth of July in Dublin!!

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On Wednesday I decided that I wanted to go all out celebrating the Fourth in Dublin! It was Independence Day and I wanted to celebrate the fantastic holiday decked out in Red, White and Blue. Our Independence from England is something that both Americans and the Irish celebrate. We both at one point in our history were ruled by England.  I spent a couple of hours on Wednesday shopping, trying to find American themed clothing in Penney’s and Forever 21. I wasn’t sure if they were going to have anything but I eventually found: black and white flag shorts, a red shirt, American socks and Red, White and Blue Stars on Converse High Tops! I was set and ready to go for my celebration of the Fourth of July!

Celebrating the Fourth of July in any country besides America was going to be different. I wasn’t sure what to expect while celebrating my Independence Day in Ireland. It’s not a holiday that they celebrate here so I thought there to be not that many activities to do. To my surprise there was a lot more events here catered towards Americans then what I expected.

A lot of the pubs, here in Dublin, had American food themed BBQ’s. They had burgers, hotdogs, ribs, etc. for “Free” in their pubs.  (The food was only free if you bought a pint of beer). The embassy we assumed would be hosting an event in celebration but we found out that their celebration is for the Irish only. (I called and was told on the phone that they didn’t want any Americans). There were also pubs that had Garth Brooks Tribute bands performing many different country songs and were giving out free cowboy hats.

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We started our night off by going to McGrattans Pub for the BBQ. We were meeting our program director Sandra, our American College Dublin professor Colum and some of the other American students that were in Dublin. It was quite the celebration. There were many Americans in this pub dressed up in Red, White and Blue. There were also many Irish people that made the point to tell us “Happy Independence Day”. It was a blast. The flyer that the pub posted online said that they were going to have all sorts of American themed food. That food included: Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Ribs, Toasted Marshmallows, Muffins and Peanut Butter. We weren’t exactly sure what they were planning on doing with the peanut butter but when we got there they didn’t have it so we still aren’t sure what the plan was.

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After we left McGrattans we decided to skip the Garth Brooks Tribute concert, we missed out on the free cowboy hats, and so we went to O’Donoghue’s Pub on Merrion Row. This pub had more of the younger crowd. We made our way to the different sections of the pub and discovered a bunch of people with American Flags. We also noticed at the bar that they had dollar bills with names and dates taped to the bar. I pointed it out to my group. An Irish man overheard me and started to ask me questions about American politics. Riley and I got into a 2 and a half hour political discussion with this man and his “foster uncle”. They didn’t understand Obamacare, why our country doesn’t love Obama anymore (his approval rating has dropped to less then 45%) and how anyone could possibly be anything but a democrat. It was interesting to us to hear Irish peoples views on American politics. 

Our Fourth of July was a pretty decent one here in Dublin. Its nice to know that if we are ever back in this country for the Fourth we will have plenty of fun activities to do!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 4th of July!

In true spirit of celebrating July 4th in Ireland, we thought we would look at how similar both countries are.


Here are some photos to show you some of the resemblances between Ireland and America.

Lighthouse in County Donegal

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Lighthouse in Maine

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Cobblestone street in Georgian Dublin

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Cobblestone Street in Charleston, South Carolina

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Hay Field in the west of Ireland

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Hay field in the midwest, USA

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Powerscourt Waterfall in Wicklow, Ireland

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Limekiln Waterfalls, California

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Bridge in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin

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Vince Arch Bridge, Central Park, NYC

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Rural road in Kerry

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Rural road in Pennsyvlania

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Georgian houses Dublin

Georgian style houses San Antonio, Texas

Whether you are in Ireland or the U.S., have a wonderful 4th of July :)