My favorite picture of the Irish countryside

24 March 2011

I love Oxfam

Last night, we had our Oxfambooks "Christmas" party. (It's an Irish Christmas ;) One of the volunteers owns a Mexican restaurant up in Malahide so we had our dinner there. I have found decent Mexican food in Ireland!!! So excited!!! He said the cook was from California so I think that probably has something to do with it. I discovered that they're as fascinated with American accents as we are with Irish accents which was very entertaining for me. All in all, we had a grand time and I thoroughly enjoyed everyone's company.

21 March 2011

Last Day of Spring Break

It's the last day of my 3 week Spring Break. I had all kinds of plans for what I was going to accomplish during these three weeks, but I don't think any of them were achieved! I have a feeling today will be spent doing lots of reading for Medieval Dublin.

17 March 2011

St. Paddy's Day

It's been a wonderful day with a surprising lack of all things stereotypically Irish! Dublin is definitely a lot crazier than Galway on St. Paddy's Day. Dublin was definitely an experience, but Galway still holds my vote for the best place to be in Ireland on 17 March! I started the festivities last night by going with one of my friends (who is also from Kansas) and some of her friends from Trinity. We found a pub with E5 cocktails (really exciting!) then went to Dame Lane where we met up with some of my friends from UCD. We ended the night at the Mercantile, which, of course, was PACKED! It closed around 2:30 and it took Laurrie and I until between 4:00 and 4:30 to find a taxi. I was soooo tired by the time I got back to my flat! This morning, I forced myself out of bed around 10:00 so I could get into town and get a good spot for the parade at noon. Turns out, I really didn't need to get there that early since the parade didn't actually start until 1:30 (a.k.a. an Irish noon). The parade was very strange, but really cool! It was based on a book written recently (I honestly don't know which one) so each section of the parade was a chapter from the book. Some of the creatures looked like they belonged in the Neverending Story! After the parade, our group went for lunch and I learned, yet again, that there is no such thing as authentic Mexican in Ireland. We went to a burrito place that had signs saying their ingredients and chef were all from Mexico. I'll give them points for spice, but that's about it. Dublin has carnivals come in for the St. Patrick's Day Festival, which lasts all week so we walked around those this afternoon. Unfortunately, they wanted E4 for one ride so we didn't actually ride any rides. We all decided to part around 4:00 so I thought it would be easy to get the bus since everyone was probably staying in town. Not so much. After two of my buses passed me because they were full, I decided to walk up to the next bus stop. Fortunately, I was able to get on there and made it home in record time since we were too full to stop and pick anyone else up! I don't think you could pay me to go back into town tonight, it's soooo crazy there! I realize I love being a tourist and encourage others to travel, but it's days like this when tourists really annoy me! Maybe it's because I can't convince people that I actually live here when there's so many tourists around or maybe it's because my daily life is slightly disturbed. Either way, I never realized how easy it is to spot Americans walking down Dame Street.

Irish quote about St. Patrick's Day:
St. Patrick - one of the few saints whose feast day presents the opportunity to get determinedly whacked and make a fool of oneself all under the guise of acting Irish.
~Charles M. Madigan

07 March 2011

Henri-Chapelle Trip

I posted a few pictures of Henri-Chapelle in my last post and I put all of the pictures up on Facebook, but I realize not everyone has Facebook, and I know my mom has sent my blog address to her Carlton cousins so I'll repost the pictures here. I apologize as this is going to be a very long post!

The main entrance from the road.

Every state's seal was engraved on the pillars at the front of the cemetery. Here's Kansas!

The U.S. seal is on the floor of the main entrance.

You can's see them very well, but the names of those MIA are engraved on the pillars at the front as well.

The guardian angel statue stands at the front of the cemetery.

I saw a grave with a poppy on it.

The top picture is the engraving on the back wall of the cemetery. The bottom two pictures are close ups so you can actually read what it says: "In Honored Memory of Those Who Gave Their Lives for Their Country."

The graves surrounding James'.

Almost 8,000 men are buried in this cemetery alone.

The maps show the routes of the different armies throughout the war.

The countryside surrounding the cemetery.

The main entrance.

Without the sand rubbed in - you can tell how much of a difference this makes!

You can order flowers to be put on the grave. When they receive an order, they put the flowers out on the date specified and rub sand into the grooves on the stone. They then take a picture and send it to you.

They rub sand from the beaches at Normandy into the grooves so the inscription shows up on camera better.

James was killed in action near Lucherberg, Germany, while his unit was trying to take a bridge.

06 March 2011


I returned yesterday from a week long trip to Lueven, Belgium. I was a little nervous about it since I didn't really know anyone going on this trip (a few of the boys had been in classes with me, but they were just acquaintances). We had an absolutely fantastic time! There were 6 of us (all M.A. students) taking it for our Research Skills credit and 5 more Ph.D. or beyond just along for the ride, plus 6 professors. The first day we went to the Belgian Archives and took a walking tour of Leuven. They had said it would be a small town, but I think their version of small and my version of small are two different things. It was probably the size of Galway - maybe a little bigger. We also discovered that Belgian beer is very good.
While walking around, we found that Leuven also has a spire...only there's has a fly on the end of it...
The second day we went to Aachen, Germany, to visit Charlemagne's Cathedral. We had lectures each morning so we didn't get to Aachen until about 1:00 and had our tour at 2:00. We ended up leaving right after the tour at around 5:00 so we didn't have much free time. Probably my only complaint of the whole trip would be that we didn't get all that much free time in our field trip cities. We did get sausages in the market square so that gave us time to explore for our hour of free time at least. The tour was really nice and the guide was very knowledgeable. I think he was pretty excited to get a tour group who was actually interested in all of the historical stuff he had to say! We saw Charlemagne's first coffin, his throne (basically 4 marble slabs put together into a chair - it was for church so he wanted to appear the humble king), and his final coffin (although it only contains 90-some of his bones).

The next day we went to Antwerp and the "big kids" went to Bruges. We went to the print museum in Antwerp, which was absolutely fabulous. Really, I suppose anything that puts me among lots and lots of books I think is amazing, but the museum really was cool. Again, we didn't have a lot of free time, but we did have enough to discover a chocolate drink shop. It was absolutely amazing! After we hyped ourselves up on chocolate, we made our way back to the train station, had the stereotypical running through a European train station to catch our train, and "missed it by that much." We then ran into the professors who had also missed the train so we all ended up taking the next train back together. We then had a group dinner ouy minus the PhD students who weren't back from Bruges yet.

Thursday, we went in to Brussels to tour the EU Parliament building. I wasn't sure how interesting it would be because A) my interests lie in the 400s - slightly before the creation of the EU and B) I'm an American citizen and don't have much to do with the EU (although someone did seriously ask me last year if America was part of the EU *facepalm*) The tour was actually really interesting and now I feel like I need to go to DC and see the American Capitol as well! Again, we didn't have much free time since we got done with lunch around 2:00 and had to be back in Leuven by 5:00 so we went to the Comic Book Museum (Mike and Josh - I would have gotten you Smurfs things, but everything was in French!), then walked around the area by the train station for a bit. We missed the first train we intended to catch back so we thought no problem, there's another in 10 minutes we'll take that. Evidently the one we missed was the express that took 20 minutes and the one we got took 40. We got back to Leuven at a quarter to 5:00 and raced back to the college. Fortunately, the reception at 5:00 was an Irish 5:00 and we had time to relax before the ambassador got there. The reception was for a talk from the Irish Ambassador to the EU, which was extremely interesting. Usually, I don't get into politics much, but she was a very good speaker and really explained a lot of how the EU works.

Friday morning, everybody else left for home and I went to the Henri-Chapelle American Military Cemetery. My Granny's brother, James Carlton, is buried there so I went to go see his grave. I'm pretty sure I'm the first relative who has been there since my Granddad visited on his way home from the war. It really was a very moving experience. The impact of how many men died doesn't really hit you until you're standing, looking out over 8,000 graves and knowing that there are at least 3 more cemeteries in the area that look the same. Caroline, my contact person for this trip, took me out to his grave, rubbed sand from the Normandy beaches into the grooves so that everything would show up in the picture, and placed Belgian and American flags in front of the grave. She gave me all kinds of information about where James was killed, the date he died, and gave me forms for finding out more information about his time in the army. She also asked for any information we had on him to be sent to her as they are trying to collect as much information about each soldier before they are forgotten. There are 8,000 men buried in the cemetery and they only have 500 pictures so far so if you know anyone buried in Henri-Chapelle (or any other foreign military cemetery for that matter), please pass on any information you have!