Slán Go Fóill

University College Cork, Cork

Well, my time in Cork sure was an adventure. I had a fantastic time living in Cork and made amazing memories and friends that will last for the ages. I have run out of topics to write about, but if anyone wants to learn more, feel free to reach out. I loved sharing my experience through this blog, and I hope the next Cork cohort has just as good of an experience as I had. Cork is an extraordinary place, one I’ll love for a lifetime.

As for me, I’m writing this as I am getting ready to set off for my next adventure. My next chapter is in Puerto Natales, Chile, where I am studying abroad for the spring semester. So slán go fóill, or goodbye for now.

I’ve included some extra pictures in this post that didn’t make it into the rest of the blog. Enjoy the pictures- and I guess I should say Adios!

Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway
Slea Head Drive, Co. Kerry
Old Head of Kinsale, Kinsale, Co. Cork
Downtown Galway
Gallarus Oratory, Co. Kerry
Dingle, Co. Kerry
Mitchelstown Caves, Co. Cork
Clonakilty, Co. Cork


The Weekend Trip Editions: All Aboard to County Kerry

Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

For the final edition of my weekender series, let’s talk about one of my favorite trips I took in Ireland while abroad. Holy Cross planned a cross-country trip to County Kerry during one of our last weekends of the semester. We hit the road all together for an unforgettable adventure!

Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

First, we started the day bright and early in Killarney National Park. Killarney National Park was the first national park in Ireland. The region is home to the tallest mountain range in Ireland, Macgillycudddy’s Reeks. We started our adventure at the Torc Waterfall, located inside the park. We explored the area near the waterfall and climbed up to different viewing points around the park in our little green leprechaun van.

Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

The rest of the day was devoted to exploring the Ring of Kerry, a famous route on the Iveragh Peninsula. We visited Sneem (a little town on the Ring of Kerry), followed by a stop at Waterville Cove. We then saw views of the Coman Chiste lookout point. We then got to explore the town of Killarney and stop for lunch.

Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

We then drove to our home for the night. We stayed at an inn in the little town of Anascual. We truly felt like we were getting the Irish experience in this area! We had a good Irish dinner and visited some donkeys before heading to bed to prepare for the next day.

Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

We started the following day with a full Irish breakfast and hopped in our van. The second day was devoted to exploring the Dingle Peninsula, just north of the Iveragh Peninsula. We spent the day driving along the Slea Head Drive, a route around the peninsula. We stopped all over, including at a statue known as Holy Cross! The views were stunning, and we finished the day with a walk around a Gaeltacht or an Irish-speaking area on the peninsula. After taking my Irish language class all semester, it was incredible to recognize a few words on the signs around the Gaeltacht. We ended our trip by exploring the town of Dingle, which is never a miss.

Holy Cross Statue, Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula

Overall, the scenery and culture on this trip were unparalleled. It was truly an adventure I’ll remember forever.

Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula
Sneem, Co. Kerry

The Weekend Trip Editions: County Dublin Adventures

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

In the second installment of the weekend diaries, I will discuss the weekend I spent exploring County Dublin. Dublin is the capital of Ireland (even though Cork disagrees) and is home to the Irish federal government (known as the Dáil, or more formally, Dáil Éireann) as well as the esteemed Trinity College (where Holy Cross also partners for study abroad!) I visited one of my friends studying at Trinity for the year and explored Dublin!

Howth Cliff Walk, Howth, Co. Dublin

First, this trip occurred in mid-November, the beginning of all Christmas decorations in Ireland. It was so beautiful and special to visit during the Christmas season! For some sightseeing, Temple Bar is well known for its Christmas display. So, amongst the crowds, we popped in for a quick look before hopping right out. We also saw all the lights on at night, which was stunning.

Christmas at Temple Bar, Dublin

The main event of the weekend was a day trip to Howth. Located in County Dublin and a 20-minute train ride from Dublin, Howth is a fishing town known for its seafood and shops. The other main claim to fame is the Howth Cliff Walk, a series of trails along the coastline. It was quite a sight and a great way to spend the weekend.

Christmas Lights on Grafton St, Dublin

Overall, the trip to Dublin was a massive success. Dublin has lots to see and do all around the city. However, this writer’s heart belongs to Cork and shall always reign superior.

Flower and Bean Cafe, Dublin

The Weekend Trip Editions: Family Visits

The Rock of Cashel, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

I will discuss a few weekend trips I took exploring Ireland for my next three editions! While I did take many weekend trips outside of Ireland all over Europe, there are plenty of great experiences on our new home’s turf.

For my first of the three editions, I will discuss the few days I spent with my family when they visited! Now, this was early August, during our early start program (which you can read about in my August Adventure post!), I did have to travel back and forth to Dublin a bit to catch the field trips, which was quite a feat. However, it does go to show how easy transport is in Ireland!

Croke Park, Dublin, Co. Dublin

I began my journey with my family at the Rock of Cashel. It is located in Cashel, County Tipperary, between Dublin and Cork. The Rock of Cashel is only the name for the manufactured rock landform on which the three structures find themselves. The Rock includes Cormac’s Chapel, the Cashel Cathedral, and a tower house. The area turned hands many times (evident by the many different structures). However, it was intended to be the seat of the King of Munster or the region where Cork is. Overall, it’s a beautiful sight with amazing architecture and views. It’s definitely worth a stop!

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Next, we made it to Dublin and stopped at Croke Park. Croke Park is Ireland’s national GAA (Gaelic Athletics Association) Stadium. It is also used for events and performances as it is the third largest stadium in Europe.

Finally, we ended the day at the Guinness Storehouse. Seeing the history of such an institutional brand in Ireland was great. We even got to see some cool old-school ads! Then I took the train back home to Cork for our school Dingle trip the next day!

Mass at Dublin Castle, Dublin

I took the train back to Dublin that night and went to mass with my family the next morning. We attended mass in the courtyard of Dublin Castle. Dublin Castle was the seat of the English Parliament in Ireland before Irish independence. It was an interesting place with tons of history and not far from the iconic Trinity College!

Pushups for Touchdowns! at Notre Dame vs. Navy


Then we went to Aviva Stadium to watch Notre Dame take on Navy! It was a very fun day, and the Irish won!

That ends my tales of the wild adventure I had with my family. Stay tuned for the next weekender edition! (PS. My sister and I met Martin Short!)

From The Food Files: A Delicious Quest

The English Market, Cork, Co. Cork

Hungry? If you aren’t now, you will be after reading this edition! Cork is the food capital of Ireland, so I must write a post all about my favorite eats in the city. We’ll cover cafes, sit-down restaurants, and our favorite chippers! Eat up because here we go!

Let’s start with breakfast. If you’re craving the best cup of coffee, cafes are the way to go. Alchemy on Barrack Street is a fan favorite with cozy digs and an award-winning sausage roll. (It truly is the best I’ve had) The Lough Cafe is another fan favorite from the Holy Cross kids. Right up from the beautiful Cork Lough, they have great toastie sandwiches and desserts with hot chocolate and a chai latte to die for. Tiramisu has the best all-around latte and egg breakfast with Italian-inspired digs.

Toasties at the Lough Cafe, Cork

Before leaving the island, you must have a proper, full Irish breakfast. Filled to the brim with sausage, eggs, bacon, beans, tomatoes, and mushrooms, served with a mountain of toast and a cup of tea or coffee, it is a delicious feat. For a great, quick, and cheap version, we adored Tony’s Bistro—a small NYC diner-inspired joint with photos from The Godfather lining the walls. I grew up in NYC, so I did feel at home there. For a nicer option, Spitjack on Washington Street does a fantastic job. Joe and Bros on Gillabbey Street is the way to go for an alternate brunch option. It’s a small college cafe right off campus; order the pancakes or the cluck cluck sandwich. We all still dream about the cluck cluck.

Joe and Bros, Gillabbey Street, Cork

Lunch has the same rules as breakfast; go the cafe route. However, the English Market is a fabulous way to go if you want something heartier. Besides the myriad of options at the vendors, the market is home to the Farmgate cafe, a fantastic farm-to-table option serving breakfast and lunch. If you want to live the authentic college experience, Centra (the Irish bodega chain) has some excellent lunch items—spring for a chicken fillet roll (an Irish classic) or their chicken wrap.

A Full Irish Breakfast, Spitjack, Washington St, Cork

For dinner, you have a million options in the city. However, I would say you must try Tom Barry’s. Located on Barrack Street, the biergarten-pizzeria is serving up Neapolitan-style pizza. Tom Barry’s is never a miss. Chipper culture is huge in Ireland, which are mom-and-pop joints serving up everything battered and fried. Jackie Lennox on Bandon Road has the best fish and chips for a genuine meal. O’Reilly’s on Barrack Street has the best late-night eats, where you can find O’Reilly himself scooping chips. Make sure to always order with salt and vinegar!

Pizza at Tom Barry’s, Barrack Street, Cork

I’m super hungry now, so I’ll be signing off. I hope this guide gave some insight and some hunger—Food Files out.

Sports, Music, and Craic, Oh My!


View of Cork City from the Shandon Bells

So, events in Cork City!

There is so much to do all over Cork! Cork is known as a big music city, so you can find live music everywhere! I loved going to Trad Sessions when people sang traditional Irish music in the pubs. It’s always a great time! You can also find “regular” music at many places, either by DJ or totally live! In addition to more casual music, the Cork Opera House is home to lots of events throughout the year. We got to see the Cork Ballet perform Swan Lake there!

Cork City Ballet’s Swan Lake at the Cork Opera House

Switching to sports, Cork is home to Pairc Uí Chaoimh, a large sports stadium home to the Cork GAA. We attended a hurling match there and even got a private lesson to learn how to play! Hurling is the fastest-played sport in the world and a staple of Irish athletics. It was an amazing experience to get to attend! In addition to the GAA, Turners Cross Stadium is home to the Cork City Football Club for all your soccer needs!

Cork GAA Hurling Match at Parc Uí Chaoimh

The biggest time of year is the Cork Jazz Festival! A whole weekend of live music that takes over the entire city, there is something for everyone playing all day! It takes place over the October bank holiday weekend (Halloween weekend when we were there). It is a fun-filled time for everyone! We even got to see one of our best resident crusader singers, Rhiannon Hurst, sing in a feature that weekend!

Rhiannon Hurst Performing during Cork Jazz Weekend

There is also so much to see in Cork! Between the esteemed Crawford Art Gallery, the English Market, the Marina Market, the Butter Museum, the Shandon Bells, and so much more, there is never a dull moment in Cork!

View of Cork from Elizabeth Fort

So You Want to Study in Cork?

Saint Finbarr's Cathedral
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, Co. Cork

What are classes like in Cork?

In this issue, I will discuss the credit requirements and the classes I took while studying in Cork! To start, all Holy Cross students must take 30 credits of Irish classes to equal our class credit requirements at Holy Cross. The 30 credits typically equal 6 classes; however, depending on the credit given, it could be 5. I took 6 classes this semester.

Cork Views of Rainbow
Views of Cork, Co. Cork

You choose classes once you are already in Cork through the UCC Visiting Students Module Portal. All platforms will be explained at orientation. Depending on your plan of study, you will have different goals for what you want to take and will probably end up taking some new classes as you need to fill the 30 credit requirement. That’s the fun of it, though, to try new things you couldn’t take while at Holy Cross.

Views of Cork City

All 13 of us in Cork come from many different majors, causing a difference in some of the classes we picked; however, we took many classes together to fill our 30 credits. The 6 classes I took were Celtic Saints, Introduction to Modern Irish, Ice Age Quaternary Environments and Geomorphology, People, Place, and Politics, Ireland, 1660-1960, Local Politics and Government of Ireland, and International Security. I chose my classes based on my degree requirements and pure interest. I wanted to take as many Ireland-focused classes to enrich my immersion. You do get an add/drop period, just like we do at Holy Cross, that lets you change your schedule before committing to it, which allowed me to try out a few classes and figure out which ones I liked best.

Views of Cork City

Assignments and class structure are a lot different than classes at Holy Cross. My classes tended to have 2-4 assignments, including the final. Many classes were one assignment during the semester and a final. Participation and attendance are not graded requirements; however, you will fall behind without attending as the two assignments are crucial and heavily weighted. Finals in Ireland are extremely formal exams. If held formally (and not informally by your professor during the last week of the semester), they will be sit-down exams held off-campus in venues with about 600 other students taking all different exams. While jarring at first, the finals are typical class exams and blocked to be shorter than Holy Cross exams.

I loved my classes in Ireland and am grateful for the experience of trying something completely new!

Views of Cork

Blarney, Kinsale, and Cobh: The Day Tripper Diaries

Deck of Cards View in Cobh
“Deck of Cards Houses,” Cobh, Co. Cork

When we’re not exploring Cork (and going to class, of course). Being in County Cork affords excellent opportunities to visit great nearby sites! The three sites I discuss in this issue are Blarney Castle, Kinsale, and Cobh!

Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork

Let’s start with Blarney! A 12-minute drive from Cork (by bus or car) lies Blarney Castle in Blarney! Blarney Castle has acres of forest and gardens that are great for a stroll or light hike. The grounds are home to both Blarney Castle and Blarney House. Blarney Castle is a medieval relic from the McCarthy line and holds the famous Blarney Stone, known for the lore of the “gift of the gab.” During my time in Cork, I visited Blarney Castle three times between going with friends in Cork and visiting friends. Each time was a time to remember! In addition to the castle, Blarney Village is home to the Blarney Wollen Mills, a massive store filled with Irish goods, a few other cute stores, and a very delicious pub for a great lunch!

Holy Cross Students Climbing Blarney Castle
Climbing Blarney Castle
Top of Blarney Castle
Heights of Blarney Castle

Next, let’s discuss Kinsale! Just 30 minutes south of Cork, Kinsale is the Newport, RI, USA of Ireland. In fact, Kinsale and Newport are sister cities! Kinsale has cute stores and restaurants amongst its colorful buildings and nautical culture. Boats are found everywhere, and the beach is a short walk away! A few of my friends and I had a beach day there in early September for a lovely day trip. We had a lobster roll lunch and ice cream to end our day on the beach. (See, just like Newport!) I went back to Kinsale when a friend visited, and we checked out the Old Head of Kinsale, one of the southernmost points in Ireland. With beautiful cliff views, it is definitely a sight to be seen! The headland is also the nearest point of land to where the Lusitania sunk! With lots to do, Kinsale is a top recommendation for a day trip!

Views of Kinsale, County Cork
Kinsale, Co. Cork
Old Head of Kinsale
Old Head of Kinsale, Kinsale, Co. Cork

Finally, let’s end with Cobh. Just a 25-minute train ride from Cork, the little village of Cobh holds a lot of fame. Known to be the last port of call before the Titanic sank, an immersive experience at the Titanic museum is a fun way to begin the day! Cobh is filled with cute stores, cafes, and restaurants to browse. Cobh is also known for the famous “Deck of Cards Houses” view in front of St. Colman’s Cathedral. A look around the stunning Cathedral and a trip to the viewpoint are highly recommended.

Views of Cobh
Views of Cobh, Co. Cork

These sites are only a few great areas accessible right from Cork! And they are definitely worth the trip!

Kinsale Beach
Kinsale Beach, Kinsale, Co. Cork

Archaeology: Our August Adventure

Holy Cross Students at the Cliffs of Dún Aonghasa on the Aran Islands
The Cliffs of Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór, Aran Islands

In this issue, let’s discuss the UCC Early Start Program!

You must take the Early Start Program at UCC when attending the Cork program. The Early Start Program is a visiting student-only program consisting of your first three weeks in Cork. You’ll have class every day with only other visiting students before the semester classes begin. These programs are packed with field trips, as there are about five within the three weeks of the program. These classes generally consist of other American study abroad students as the other global students do not partake in the Early Start Program under the Erasmus exchange program. At UCC, there are three topic options to choose from: Archaeology, English, and History. I took the archaeology program; you’ll learn a little about my experience!

Ballinacarriga Castle
Ballinacarriga Castle, County Cork

In the class, we learned about the history of Ireland through the lens of Archaeology. We learned about the Celts, the Pagans, Medival Ireland, the growth of cities, architecture, and so much more. We discovered an insane amount in three weeks; however, my favorite part was the field trips.

View of the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher

Our first field trip was to West County Cork, where we visited the Ballinacarriega Castle, a Ringfort, and the Drombeg Stone Circle, sights from early Medieval and pagan times in Ireland. We visited County Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula on the second field trip. We visited sights such as the Gallarus Oratory, Kilmalkedar Church, and Dingle. We got to take a harbor tour of Dingle and see the beautiful sights of the surrounding areas. We visited the Labbacalle Wedge Tomb on the third field trip, the Mitchelstown Caves, and the Rock of Cashel. On our fourth trip, we visited Dublin, where we visited the National Museum of Ireland and Christ Church Cathedral. On our fifth and final trip (my favorite one!), we had an overnight trip to County Clare, where we visited the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and many other sites. We stayed the night in Galway and explored the city before heading to the Aran Islands the next day. We had a private tour of Inis Mór (the largest of the three islands) and visited Dún Aonghasa. Overall, the program afforded a fantastic opportunity to explore inaccessible parts of Ireland and fully immerse ourselves in the culture from the get-go!

Gallarus Oratory
The Gallarus Oratory, County Kerry

August brought lots of transition into studying abroad, but the archaeology program was a highlight. In addition to the program, I took trips with my friends to Kinsale, Blarney Castle, and Dublin while also exploring Cork! We explored the city while trying new restaurants and pubs all over the city!

August was a month to remember!

Fáilte Go Corcaigh!

Image of University College Cork, Main Quad
Main Campus of University College Cork

Fáilte go Corcaigh! Welcome to Cork! My name is Erin O’Donovan, and I am a junior Political Science major minoring in Environmental Studies and Geoscience currently studying abroad in Cork, Ireland. I am very excited to tell you all about my journey abroad!

Cork is located in the south of Ireland. It is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, after Dublin. Cork is a vibrant city full of amazing food (It is the food capital of the country), lots of colleges, and so much craic! (craic= the Irish word for fun!) Immersion in the Irish culture is highly accessible in Cork, as you can find the culture everywhere! We have it all, from nights of traditional music (ceol in Irish) to mornings of a full Irish breakfast!

While living in Cork, we study at University College Cork, or UCC. At UCC, you can take a plethora of courses offered to visiting students, from Ice Age Geomorphology to an Irish language course! (Both of which I am taking this semester!) Your classes will consist of Irish students and other visiting students from all over the world!

Cork is an amazing place to live in Ireland, allowing access to other parts of the country! Located in County Cork, we have many amazing places around us. Kinsale, Cobh, Blarney (Yes, where you can kiss the Blarney stone), and Clonakilty are only a few of the other towns and villages surrounding us. If you want to see some of the natural beauty of Ireland, West Cork is known for its landscapes and neighboring counties, Kerry and Clare (where Galway is located). And Dublin is only a train ride away! Between the easily accessible buses, trains, and planes (as Cork has an airport), Cork is the gateway to the rest of Ireland and the world!

Cork truly is a fantastic place to study abroad. Follow along my blog to see what my experience and my adventures have been like!

Slán! (Goodbye!)