Slán: The Final Day

In the span of a breath, I found myself waking up to the bright sunshine of my last day in Ireland. People warned me I’d be homesick. It would be difficult to get used to a normal routine in Ireland. I would feel foreign, out of place. Eventually I would warm up to the country and feel comfortable. I was anticipating some homesickness. It never really happened. From the moment I walked off the plane, I felt comfortable. It was easy to form routines and feel like I belonged. And as the final day arrived, I struggled to hold back tears as I rolled out of bed. I wished I had been able to stay and study in Ireland for a year. Even though I had already done and seen so much during my five weeks, there was still so much I wanted to experience.

Over the last weeks I spent so much time heading out of the city, doing classwork, and heading to museums and all-day events. For my last day, I wanted to head to one last museum exhibit and walk along the Liffey on a photo-walk. Before I boarded the plane, I wanted to soak up every last moment of my final day to imprint this beautiful and welcoming country into my bones.

My first spot of the day was the General Post Office, the scene of the historic 1916 Easter Rising. It’s a beautiful building with six large columns on O’Connell Street. O’Connell is the main street of Dublin, named after Daniel O’Connell, known as “The Liberator”.  His statue sits in the middle stretch of the road.

It’s beautiful inside of the GPO and I enjoyed snapping a few shots inside, but my interests that day were visiting the memorial to the 1916 Rising. I took a few shots on my cellphone of the exhibit. It featured artifacts, touchscreen interactive videos and quizzes, dress sets and uniforms as they would have appeared, but my favorite part was a long video giving a timeline of the events as seen through the eyes of the participants in the Rising, as well as bystanders/civilians, and the British. It goes without saying that I highly recommend this museum exhibit. It’s a must-see.

I have a fondness for old photographs of women, especially if they come from a. time when women were expected to neither be seen nor heard.

I spent a considerable amount of time walking through the exhibit and once I finished, I headed back out to O’Connell Street to take pictures of the statues and monuments on the street. I headed into a few local shops, checking out a bookstore and Pennys, a local clothing store, which had fantastic Dublin Pride shirts in their window.

The back of O'Connell's statue

The front of O'Connell's statue

Taken from inside the bookstore.

With some shopping bags in hand, I headed to the closest Luas Stop and took the tram a handful of streets over. Back when we had toured Dublin with the program’s directors, we passed a beautiful bridge in the shape of a harp lying on its side. I’d wanted to photograph it since I first saw it and today presented the best (and last) opportunity to do so.

When I hopped off the tram, something caught my eye before I got to the bridge. Children and teens in wetsuits were jumping into a large pool of water. I thought it was funny to see them playing in a not-swimming pool and making do in the heat. As I approached the bridge, not far from the first batch of kids, I saw more wetsuit clad teens backflipping off the stone walls around the harp bridge and into the Liffey below. I was momentarily distracted from my original desire to shoot the harp bridge and hung around for about forty minutes watching them leap and flip into the river like acrobats. A small crowd of people gathered around them, watching them and filming them on their phones.

Eventually, the crowd dispersed, and I did too. I photographed the bridge on both sides of the river. On the other side, I saw more kids swimming and diving into the river. I really don’t blame them. The temperature was nearly unbearable. The sky remained cloudless all day, the sun beating down its full fury. To escape it myself, I headed to the sidewalk on the other side of the street, sticking to the shadows to shield me from the worst of the day.

I continued down the street photographing until I arrived at the beautiful Custom House.

Seán O'Casey Bridge

The Custom House

I proceeded down the street stopping for anything that caught my eye, which a lot of the time was street art.

The theatre where I saw Ulysses.

Irish history is everywhere even outside of pubs.

The rest of my day consisted of a bar crawl, drinking, laughing, and having fun with other travelers and locals. I walked the streets, my eyes scanning madly around trying to set every image into stone in my mind. I didn’t want to forget a single moment.

Days flipped through my mind, all the moments I will cherish for the rest of my life. These moments I would try to explain to all of my loved ones. I would try to explain the briny air of Howth the moment you step off the train or the way the air fills your lungs with its freshness on the hiking path. Would my pictures be able to convey the feelings I felt staring into the horizon on top of the Cliffs of Moher, the waves meeting the rocks below? When I talked about the art on the streets, hanging in museums, in the music, would they be able to imagine it, see the power of those images, hear those songs?

I won’t forget all of the amazing people who treated me with kindness, shared a pint with me, or made me laugh as I navigated life in Ireland. It was so easy for it to become my routine, my comfortable. Now I was faced with the uncomfortable, saying goodbye, leaving Ireland for the States.

I finished my day watching the sunset around the Ha'penny Bridge. And just like the sun, my time in Dublin was setting too.

For all those I met in Dublin and all those who helped make this study abroad trip the most incredible experience, thank you. For those who helped me in preparation for Dublin, to the scholarship committee of the nationality rooms, thank you. I had the time of my life.

And I leave Ireland, with a lifetime of memories.

Slán, Ireland! I promise I’ll be back.

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.


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!