Monday, May 20, 2013

Alfred University's Equine Industry in Ireland: Arrival in Dublin

By Kristen

We’ve arrived in Dublin! After a stressful day of traveling across New York state to JFK airport (and a sprint down the terminal to make boarding for our flight) we flew through the shortest night I’ve ever experienced to land in Dublin around 9:30 this morning—3 or 4 in the morning on “home” time. It took us some time to get momentum after meeting our tour guide and chauffeur driver, but after settling in I think the group is getting back on its feet and adjusting to the time change and lack of sleep.

The romantic in me would like to say that the moment we broke below the clouds I was immediately struck with the beauty of Ireland—realistically, I have to say that an airport is an airport. Yet the Dublin airport does have its own character: just over the wooden fence I could see green fields housing sheep and a few horses, a low white barn or two, fields crisscrossed by hedges at the edge of the city. From the airport we drove into Dublin itself, townhouses in the suburbs with charming brick-and-metal fencing and well-groomed gardens affording the residents a buffer from the busy street. Eventually these townhouses gave way to the city itself, looking exactly as I would have imagined with narrow streets, old but beautifully maintained pubs, towering stone buildings dating back much older than our oldest American cities, statues and monuments to various figures from the past and recent past.

This country, of course, has a history dating back thousands of years. Our charming and hospitable tour guide Gerry alluded to some of the stories on our bus tour to the hotel and later our walking tour after we checked in—due to my not actually being part of the classroom portion of this course, I admit that I didn’t brush up on all of the history, but merely tried to drink in as much as I could along the way. Our walking tour from the exquisite Central Hotel where we are staying tonight led us to Trinity College, one of the most prestigious schools in Europe. Gerry was full of information about the various writers who had walked the cobblestones of the campus and presided over some of these famous halls, reminding me again of the rich legacy Ireland offered the literary world—truly, Gerry helped remind me of the world I once knew well as an English literature major and have forgotten in my current line of work as riding instructor. Dublin is a town for literary enthusiasts of all levels of interest, however, and I feel inspiration rekindling to travel, observe, experience and write all over again. As I should have expected, this trip is going to be about much more than the equine industry.

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