Temple Bar

It’s touristy. That’s what I heard before and during my study abroad experience. Go to Temple Bar but explore other areas, because it feels touristy, the drinks are expensive, and it’s crowded. That’s all mostly true. I travelled around Dublin in kind of a backwards style. I left the “touristy” stuff for the end of my trip rather than the beginning. Temple Bar is a lot of fun and it’s a good location in part of the city I hadn’t spent much time. That was one of the reasons I decided that my final hostel would be in Temple Bar. Yes, it is crowded, drinks can be expensive, but I loved the energetic vibe in the area. Countless restaurants and pubs offer daily live Irish dancing or songs. Their music pours out from open doors and windows on to the street, mixed with the sound of people clapping their hands to the beat. Laughter rings like a bell and there’s so much to see and do. It’s a very fun place.

Temple Bar is both the name of a specific bar and the area of Dublin, where the bar resides. The Temple Bar is named after Sir William Temple whose face rests on a plaque on the outside of the building. This specific bar is actually quite large and always packed with people. I never did grab a pint there, but I did take loads of pictures and honestly it is known to be overpriced. I went to more “old man bars” as our program director described them, and I enjoyed them a lot.

I loved the music, laughter, and art that makes up the heart of Temple Bar. This post contains pictures that really can speak for themselves as Temple Bar has countless murals and works of art. As someone who loves art, this felt like home to me.

Enjoy the photos below and make sure you scroll to the bottom to listen to some Irish pub music.

I did drop in to the area a handful of times throughout the program, finding a side street to examine here and there. So, this post is not all from one day or outing, but from a handful. You can see the time change in a photo of a mural I took as two weeks after I initially photographed it, someone tagged it.

I took this photo a few weeks after the one above it. 

Temple Bar

Since June is Pride month and Dublin’s pride parade was on June 30th, the streets were decorated with more and more rainbows as time went on. Sadly, I would not be in Dublin for pride but it’s on my bucket list to come back and see the parade in the future.

It was also during one of those random walkthroughs on an afternoon after classes let out that I photographed the outside of a bar. A man was leaning against the door of the bar and welcomed me and Will, another Pitt student, inside. It was only about three in the afternoon and the bar had just opened but we decided that we would just wing it and go inside. A man sat in the corner, acoustic guitar in his hands. The bartender, who invited us in, explained that we were photographing outside. The man with the guitar said it was much nicer inside, because you can have a pint. Fair enough. We bought a pint and what happened next is one of my favorite memories in Dublin.

The bar was empty, just us for at least forty minutes. We drank some Guinness and talked with the man holding the guitar. He and I shared the same sense of humor and bantered back and forth. He liked that I actually knew Irish history and I seemed to get a pass in his book. When the bartender wrangled more people in, he made witty jokes, often at their expense but in all good fun (Irish humor is very funny). Once the bar filled up, he sipped his beer and began to sing. We sat in the bar listening to song after song. At some point another American joined our table, he was just in Dublin for a little bit and we gave him some suggestions and shared a pint with him. The hours flew by.


Back in Cork, I had no real plan other than to get to the English Market. I love the movie, Young Offenders, which takes place in Cork and was partially filmed in the English Market. I spent the rest of the afternoon, exploring the streets, stumbling into Holy Trinity Church, grabbing gelato, and visiting the market.

This blog post won’t have too much text as it’s a rather hodgepodge adventure. Enjoy!

Holy Trinity Church in Cork

The English Market is reminiscent of Pike Place Market in Seattle. I arrived with barely enough time before it closed so it was not busy which was nice, but I missed seeing it during its daily primetime.

And after a very long and hot day, I boarded the train back to Dublin


Before landing in Ireland, I had been told to visit Galway. Take a bus and make a weekend out of the city if I could. The bars and restaurants were fantastic, the city felt alive and bustling, it was a great place to have fun. I did end up spending a weekend in Galway, but the days were split at the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. Still, I had a blast in the city, walking around and enjoying the street performances, eating amazing fish and chips, enjoying world cup matches at the bars, and taking a photo walk around the city.

This blog post contains both days I spent in Galway, marked most by my captivation with the street performances. This blog post won’t be too long as I had no plan as I wandered the streets. I captured what caught my attention and what inspired me. I was able to get great shots of performers, architecture, and the Spanish Arch. My suggestion if you head to Galway, plan on just hanging out on the street and enjoying the music, the stunts, and the fun that pops up. Also the Latin Quarter was fantastic with varied restaurants, bars, and shops.


Had a nice pint and watched a some of the world cup here!

I heard music and cheering and followed the sound to hear this band, Bianco Sporco, performing. I stayed for a while to enjoy their work and photograph them. 


The Latin Quarter is bustling and filled with great shops and restuaraunts. 

This is the start of my second day in Galway!

So the swans were right up against the walking path and I went to photograph them. One honked at me and I jumped back and a few bystanders laughed at me. Thanks, bird. 

The Spanish Arch!


A memorial for mariners lost at sea. 

Wolfe Tone bridge

They were singing (and drinking of course) and were excited to see someone taking their photo!

I love how bright this mural is!

The second street performance I watched on my second and last night in Galway. I came a little late into his routine and didn't catch his name. He's from Brazil traveling around and performing. 

His routine involved juggling fire, knives, and grabbing members form the audience to assit. 

"How the British juggle" - to loud laughs from the crowd. 

Using three audience members to help him get on top of the ladder. 

His countdown before they scatter. 

Audience member preparing to throw him his knife. 

Catching the knife

Now its time for fire

So stressful 

He did catch them!

Inis Mór

After our brief stop at the Cliffs of Moher, we headed to our Galway hostel for the weekend. We had the rest of the night after a group dinner to explore Galway and the rest of the next night as well. The morning following our first night in Galway we hopped back on the bus to take us to a ferry which would bring us over to the Aran Islands

I have never taken a ferry before and was anxious yet excited to see what it was like. We were warned by our program directors that the ride over could be rough for some of us. It didn’t help that the weather was poor and sea was choppy. So, for the forty-five minute or so ride over, we were told to sit outside or in the back of the ferry if we tended to experience motion sickness. Our group of forty-some students and program directors boarded the ferry almost last, leading to few seats left for our large group. I hurried in and found a seat upfront, not wanting to sit outside in the frigid air. Some in our program found seating inside, but many had to sit outside and ended up soaking wet once we arrived.

The ferry that took us over

The ferry ride over for me, luckily, was without any stomach upset and was actually fun. I loved the bouncing of the ferry and the splashing of the waves against the side. Not even halfway through our journey though, scores of people were hunched over trashcans scattered along the floor in various stages of motion sickness. There was a group of girls traveling together that quickly morphed from laughing at every jump in the boat and taking selfies to crying. I felt bad in my seat watching the lone girl without problems checking on her friends and grabbing them plastic bags and water.

Once the ferry reached the port, we grouped up, half soaking wet and frowning, and the other half ready to get started. The island offered three ways of reaching our ultimate target of Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus) and a tour of the island. You can tour and explore the island by way of biking through bike rentals, a bus tour, or a horse carriage. I decided on the bus tour. When we arrived, it was pretty cold with strong wind and I wanted to be out of the elements, hoping it would warm up.

The Aran Islands are three separate islands. Inis Mór (Inishmore), which means the big island, is known for hosting past Red Bull cliff diving competitions and also was a filming location for the 2010 movie, Leap Year. Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), meaning the middle island, features the John Millington Synge cottage. The smallest island, Inis Oírr (Inisheer), the east island, is known for its lighthouse and the shipwreck, Plassey. All the islands offer stunning views of the sea, interesting terrain, and a fun biking and walking atmosphere. We spent our time on Inis Mór.

I shared a bus with one other Pitt student, six other students in our program from other schools, and an older couple. Our bus driver drove us up the one main road on the island to the village at the top. Pictured below are my shots from inside the bus, so you may see some window glare. The bus moved surprisingly fast up the hill with bikers, walkers, and cars moving in either direction. Sometimes a lost cow had to be corralled back to its field by an irritated farmer. That, by the way, was hilarious. Cows take their good old time moving. We did not mind.

Many of my pictures are from this viewpoint. I sat in the front of the bus, taking pictures out of the many windows.

The bank on the island 

St. Brigid's cross on the front of a home

We shared the road with bikers, walkers, other cars, and the ocassional loose animal. 

Right before the village our bus and a few other cars had to stop as three donkeys had gotten loose from their enclosure and were taking up most of the road. We passed them on their side and continued and heading up to the village.  Our driver let us know how long we would have up here before he would drive us back down to the main part of town. As we walked down the road, away from the ice cream shop and knit shops, the donkeys came barreling through, passing right next to us. It was awesome.

After the exhilaration of watching wild and rowdy donkeys doing whatever they pleased, we continued to the final rest area before the trail heading up to the ancient site. After the eventual hike up to the site, I would come back to eat lunch and shop in the knitting and jewelry store.

Finally, with my ticket bought, I started the hike up the trails, walking behind and passing various travelers on the way up. We hadn’t been told too much about Dún Aonghasa other than that it was a prehistoric stone fort built on the island. I was not prepared for the views and experience at the ancient site. Before that sight, came the walk on the craggy ground flanked by the stone walls. The land on the islands are rocky and not the best for farming. In many of my pictures, you can see the rocks and stone breaking out from the ground.

Our tour guide had told us earlier on the way up that these walls were not held together. They were loose stones piled on top of each other. While walking the trail, I rested against the wall up the winding path to adjust camera settings and the rocks started to shift. It was so weird to see these walls all over the island, knowing they were freestanding.

No building material keep these rocks "glued" together. They are simply stacked on each other. 

Aran Islands

It was, uh, a tad bit windy as you can see. Had to take a snapchat!

The path steadily took a steeper turn with more rocks and stones slicing through the ground.

At last I made it through the main hike into the mostly flat open field, to see the exposed cliff side at Dún Aonghasa. The views were breathtaking, the height, terrifying. I stayed here for a while, inching myself to the cliffs edge and securing myself for some shots of the cliff faces. After enough time and a substantial increase in my heartrate, I headed the final distance to inside of the fort’s half circle structure.

The stone walls on the right are the walls of the fort. 

A heart on the footpath

I don’t need to say much as the views truly do that for me. I photographed the stone walls, the cliffs, and the people exploring the grounds around me before heading back down to the village to take some pictures of the town at the top before the tour back down.

Inside Dún Aonghasa

The final stretch back to the town at the top

After some time, our tour guide collected us in the square and loaded us back up for a trip down to the harbor. Before the harbor though, he took us to one of the old church sites and current cemetery on the island.

We thanked our bus driver as he concluded the tour and for his many jokes and good humor in taking us around. He stopped a few times on the road when he saw me trying to take pictures of cows and horses, so my shots were better.

A very happy cow

While in town before heading out on the ferry, I indulged in my own planned splurge and bought a famous Aran Island sweater, soft as a cloud and so comfortable.

I bought a sweater from this shop!

It was another fantastic day in Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher

Scrolling through Facebook or binging video clips on YouTube of Ireland, you’d be hard pressed to find one that excludes the Cliff of Moher. The dramatic view of the high cliffs and rolling waves a couple hundred feet below look like a scene out of a movie. In fact, several movies have been filmed at the Cliffs including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Standing on the top of the cliffs and walking along the rocky and uneven paths around, it’s not hard to see why this location has been used in film or why it’s such a popular tourist destination. They are, in one word, breathtaking.

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher was one of the excursions I was most excited about. With such a beautiful landscape, I knew my little photography heart would just sing at the opportunity. The Pitt in Dublin program included several excursions outside of the city such as the Glendalough visit two weeks prior. Instead of classes, those studying from Pitt and other universities met outside the school for our weekend visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and the Aran Islands. We were originally meant to spend two hours at the Cliffs but due to late comers to the bus, the time was cut down to a strict one and a half hour so that we could get to Galway on time. I was so happy that we were able to visit the Cliffs, but I was sad with how little time we had there. It’s one of the places you have to spend a full day exploring and I really look forward to going back and doing so in the future.

After a scenic bus ride with lots of cow, sheep, horse, and donkey sightings, we pulled up to the visitation center, which in and of itself is very cool looking. The building is cut into the mountain side, the grass forming a roof. The first thing I did off the bus was run inside to use the bathrooms (small bladder on a group bus is torture). Once I walked back outside, I took pictures of the area surrounding the parking lot which included some picnic benches, flag poles, a wooden carving, and the visitor center.

While I was photographing the outside, a woman was walking her extremely energetic Springer Spaniel who bounded toward the picnic benches. Now, I’ve said in a previous blog post how much I love dogs and Springers Spaniels are my absolute FAVORITE. So, I gave myself a little time before hiking up one of the trails to talk to her owner and ask if I could pet her. The adorable pup was named Sienna and belonged to a German woman who loved to talk about Springers and her little girl.

A rare moment where Sienna stayed (mostly) still waiting for some water

She was an energetic wiggle-worm, who upon seeing my interest in her yanked on her leash to get some scratches from me. Sienna and her owner had just finished a nice hike around the Cliffs, but the pup was still bounding with energy and trying to make friends with any human who glanced her way. When her owner pulled out her collapsible water dish, Sienna plopped down, legs splayed out behind her as she eagerly slopped it up. When she was satisfied she resumed her energetic pull toward the exciting world around her. I took some photographs of Sienna, thanked her owner, and headed up the trails.

When we were driving up to the parking lot initially, the sun was beaming, blue sky was poking out from nonthreatening white clouds. Not long after we arrived, though, gray clouds from over the sea rolled in bringing biting wind and a splattering of rain. Not long before we arrived, we were told how lucky we were to have clear visibility, unfortunately for most of our stay the weather turned. I was still determined to take as many interesting photographs as I could, rain or shine.

You can see the dark clouds rolling in. 

Another unlucky strike for us was as our time came to a close, the skies opened up back to sunny blues and the winds died down. So, looking through my photos as I made my way down one of the trails, you can see the progress from 1. Incoming storm 2. Fighting the storm 3. Post storm. I had many struggles taking clear photos here as I constantly had to throw my camera (which weighs a considerable amount and is a bit cumbersome) under my shirt to protect it from both the wind and the rain. I was largely unsuccessful there and had to wipe the rain water off the body and the lens as best I could. Otherwise, the photos would have spots and blurriness. These photos required more editing than usual as my lens got quite dirty and dust spots appeared on my sensor. The things we do for art!

O'Brien's Tower in the distance

I loved walking along the cliff edge, even though I suffered some bad windburn to the face and the beatdown on my camera. Once the wind died down and the rain dissipated it was fantastic. I don’t have a photo of this as it occurred while I shielded my camera and the rain poured down, but I got to witness an American couple get engaged up on the cliffs! Another trail walker stopped to take a picture of them on their phones. The poor couple was shaking with what I assumed was excitement and cold. Their hair was slick against their face as they smiled for the photo. I said my congratulations to them and continued down the trail. Later on, I would take photos of a tourist who thanked me profusely as he hiked on his own. I hope he liked the pictures! I took them on his camera and I was not familiar with his equipment.

When the storm started getting stronger, people tried to take cover in and around this tower. 

Anyway, that was a bit winded! Enjoy the photos below! I’ll caption any I think are interesting but mostly just look at the gorgeousness that is the Cliffs of Moher. At the end is a bonus - bovine surprise that I was absolutely elated to see and was entirely unexpected!

If only it had stayed this nice the entire time!

The walkway up a steepish hill

COWS! Right beside the trail were fields of cows, happily grazing.

You can see here the two levels of the trail and the fence to the left separating visitors from the cows!

The gorgeous blues returned just as I walked back. So sad!