Blog

Back to Ireland

Oct. 7

“O Jaysus” I heard half a dozen people mutter as our AerLingus flight descended through the bumpy air into the Dublin airport. It was good to be back in one of my favorite cities of Europe. I quickly remembered how kind the Irish people are once I boarded my first bus where they only accept coins and don’t give change. I didn’t have the proper coins with me, and the driver actually reached into his own wallet to help me out and break a fiver. I don’t know of any other city that I’ve been to where the driver would do that. In Paris, NYC, or London I’d be far more likely told to simply get lost.

I made the easy connection into the city center and met up with an old-time friend Stephen McPhilemy who was finishing a summer of 6 weeks guiding Europe Through the Back Door tours through Ireland. I was fortunate enough to tag along with the group for dinner, and enjoy a night out on the town trying to steer clear of the tourist rut that is Temple Bar. The dinner was absolutely deluxe, and it has been interesting to watch the standards of my father’s tour business rise with his age. I remember when a pic nic dinner would have been—and was—plenty good enough, but now anytime I bump into an ETBD tour, I enjoy a delicious 3-course meal. The meal actually enlarges my backpacker-sized stomach to the point where I’m hungry for the entire following week until it shrinks back down to the right size.

On Monday, Stephen and I made our way up to his hometown of Derry to visit his hostel and to see his Shebeen. Among the terrorist threats in Europe, Derry has had its own share unfortunately. There has been two bombings in as many months here over the summer. And one of them involved an unlucky taxi driver that was told at gunpoint to drive the newly placed bomb in his trunk to the front gate of the police station and leave it there.

As an Irish Catholic myself, it is unfortunate to see the good message of the well-meaning Republican Irish perverted into the actions of a splinter cell of the recently-quieted IRA. At the same time though, it is a refreshing jolt to keep things in perspective and remember that car bombings don’t only happen in the deserts of the Eastern Hemisphere. And I think it’s important not to forget about being vigilant in our own back yard and continue promoting causes via peaceful methods rather than violence and destruction. 

Comments:

Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame

Happy Backpackers

The most fun, exciting, educational, and craziest weekend I had during my semester abroad. You definitely get the maximum bang for your buck with WSA. WSA provided me with an unbelieveable weekend in Budapest. After hearing from my friends about their amazing experiences on WSA trips, I had to see what all the hype was about. I chose to take part in a WSA weekend in Budapest, and I loved every minute of it. The guide, Bogi, was the best! WSA is the perfect blend of an educational/tourist expereince while also allowing for sites off the beaten path as well as kickass nightlife. You won't regret a trip with WSA.

Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame ~ University of Notre Dame, London, Spring 2015

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