Your weekly report from Dungarvan, Ireland: Students experience pubs, parades

Students in Ireland participated in a town parade where they represented Mercyhurst College.Students in Ireland participated in a town parade where they represented Mercyhurst College.

We just began our third week of classes in Dungarvan, Ireland.

So far it’s unbelievably busy. Our study abroad started with a warm welcome when the city mayor along with other city officials met us at the airport and then took us out for an Irish breakfast.

We then received the keys to our townhouses, where we were provided with food and toiletries in our rooms, courtesy of Dungarvan.

The following day we had an official civic reception at the city council office, where the U.S. deputy ambassador, along with other officials, attended. After the reception the mayor invited us to a pub with an open bar.

We attended a Christy Moore concert, an Irish folk singer. At the concert Christy paused and welcomed Mercyhurst to Ireland. After the concert the Mayor of Cappoquin, the city where the concert was held, hosted all 26 of us at a pub and treated us to an open bar.

Tom Keith, our professor for a course in Irish Culture, has taken us around the city to show us local mass graves from the time of the potato famine. He also took us to a nearby Gaeltacht region (Irish-speaking area).

Keith then took us to Ardmore, a beautiful seaside town which was a 5th century monastic settlement and then to Lismore castle. The first full weekend we were here, the mayor took us to a hurling match, which is a very intense, fast sport.

On St. Patrick’s Day we went to Mass where students led the procession and read. We then marched in a parade through the city and were once again welcomed by clapping and the playing of “Star-Spangled Banner.”

The luck of the Irish has been with us; the weather has been very nice. It has only rained for two or three days, and then it normally clears up pretty quickly. We only have class Monday through Thursday, so we can travel on the weekends.

Many of us have taken a bus to the second largest city in the country, Cork, and had a great time there. Others went to Waterford, and some traveled to Scotland for the weekend.

We are going as a group to Dublin this weekend, then spending Easter in Paris. Others are planning trips to Germany, Croatia and possibly Italy. I’ll be traveling with two other students to Barcelona for a few days.

Our first three weeks here were unreal and great. We are balancing classes along with exploration. It is only going to get more interesting. Stay tuned for more updates.