3 Bradley University 1999 Irish Multimedia Safari
June 4th - Galway

Anascaul to Galway

by Kellly Keene

Good morning! Everyone woke up a little tired and sore from yesterday. We all got a good night's sleep. Except Howard, who's been up each night downloading the web files until 1:30 a.m. He and Chris wanted to climb up the mountain again if it was sunny outside and clear. That would have been fine, I would have stayed right at the bottom with the rest of the group. Unfortunately it was cloudy, cold and rainy. This might be the storm the London group ran into earlier this week.

We made our first stop at the Visitor Shipyard in Blennerville. Here they are rebuilding the old wooden ship, the Jeanne Johnston. The old ship originally sailed from Tralee to ports in the United States and Canada, taking Irish immigrants escaping famine and poverty to a new life.

On our tour, we were able to talk with and inteview on audio and videotape two of the persons involved with the ship's construction.

It had a perfect health record, unlike many of the "famine ships," never losing a passenger to disease. It sailed from 1847-58. Its hull could hold 200 passengers and 17 crew members. In 2000 this replica will set sail for the US and Canadian ports with an on-board museum. We all want to see it in September 2000 when it comes to Chicago.

Wearing the required hard hats, the group poses in front of the frame of the barque Jeanie Johnston. During 16 passages from Tralee, Ireland to ports in America, she took thousands of Irish immigrants on their voyage to a new life.

Carrigafoyle Castle, near the Tarbert ferry crossing of the River Shannon, was a place I am glad I didn't miss. The name means "the Rock of the Hole." It was built by O'Connor Kerry in the 15th and 16th century. The castle was originally an island and was five stories tall.

Carrigafoyle Castle is one of the few ruined castles which allows visitors access to each of its stories. We climbed up the spiral stone staircases to explore all of its darkened spaces.

In 1580, Irish and Spanish soldiers protected the castle for the Earl of Desmond from the invading Sir William Pelham. The castle fell after three days and the west wall was completely leveled. All its defenders were put to the sword.

To "enter" the castle, click on the picture above. Then, after the QuickTime Virtual Reality panorama of the castle loads to your computer (360 K), you can click on the castle door to gain admittance to the castle's interior.

Inside, my favorite part was the spiral staircase made of stone that seemed to go up and on forever. It was very beautiful. At the very top the staircase just disappears into the sunlight fading away into crumbed rocks.

The dark interior made it necessary to wait until your eyes had adjusted before attempting to navigate the spiral staircases made of stone blocks.

To get to Galway we ran into a big river with no bridge to cross over. So we took the little car ferry over the Shannon River. After we drove and parked, less then 3 seconds later we were all busting out of the van and heading to the snack bar. We had let to eat lunch and we needed something to hold us over. So we filled our stomachs with all the food parents don't like; soda, chips. Twix bars, and gummy fish. It was a rough ride over across the river with the heavy winds blowing out today. Overall it was a nice 15 minute break to stretch our legs a bit. Now we were off to Galway.

Our van ride was filled with music on headphones and computer and fashion magazines. We passed through more small towns and villages along with the typical green rolling hills of Ireland's countryside. We also took a nap or two.

Tonight in Galway, after our day of hard work, we plan on relaxing, shopping, sightseeing, and mixing with the Irish College life in this city. First we had to find out hotel. After that challenge was over, we were off. As I type this up this evening, may I point out that the group may have finally exhausted our poor professor, for he sleeps, slightly snoring, behind me.