We all made it safely and without incident. I was even able to track all of our various flights with my iPad! The only dramatic tension was a delayed flight from Cleveland to Newark, but all was well and we headed off. Our new driver, Joe, was at the airport right on time to drive us to Trim.
The students were all pretty cheery, especially considering jet lag. We enjoyed tea and scones at the hotel, and then enjoyed a walk into town by the various medieval ruins along the Boyne. We made a quick visit to the site for a sneak preview, where we met Denis, the site co-director and enjoyed a walk with him and his two lovely children — Donica and Peter. Supervalu (the local grocery store) is already a beloved destination for the group, with crisps (potato chips) in various flavors the snack of choice.
The delivery man from Hot & Tender, who arrived with 10 pizzas for dinner (our normal Sunday dinner routine) was thrilled to see that we are back and planning to continue that particular tradition!
Energy levels will rise tomorrow after everyone gets a good night’s sleep. We are off for our first field trip at 9am — neolithic sites in the area. We walk the student through the geology and history of Ireland — first stop: Loughcrew and Kells.
Tomorrow is departure day! I will be meeting six students and our wonderful TAs at Newark Airport for the flight to Dublin. The rest are flying via Philadelphia or Toronto. About half of the class has never been on a transatlantic flight, so the new experiences are about to begin.
I had promised myself that THIS YEAR I would not be trying to do any research-related work in Ireland, but I’ve scrambled and pushed and I still can’t get it all done before tomorrow. With no time during the day not taken up with course-related activities, it’s early mornings (!) again for me this year. I love my position as Resident Director (this is my fourth year!), but it isn’t always easy to be away from my research for a whole month. So coffee and 5am it is!
For many students, one of the initial challenges will be the lack of Internet we have in Trim. We do have access at the main hotel related to the ‘holiday homes’ we stay in, but some considerable effort is required to access it, and after a long day of hard work, many students prefer a quick email check and then an evening chatting, knitting, playing Cards Against Humanity (without me…) or Werewolf (with me…). I have a book of Irish Ghost Stories this year, as our academic program will focus on folklore and storytelling. Past students have all survived — and many (most?) have even remarked that it was good to unplug for a month.
This will be the first year that I do this alone — without the stress relief of accompanying family — so it will be a different experience for me! Being an RD is an intense 24/7 experience, in my case for a month, so here is hoping for a calm but engaged group. I’ve been very lucky with my past three classes, so these sixteen have three hard acts to follow!
For now, I am anxious to get all safely to Trim and to see their reactions to the amazing medieval ruins in Trim, the beautiful banks of the Boyne, and even to the great housing we are lucky to have. We won’t be at site for a week, with travel in the Boyne Valley and then over the weekend in Wexford and Waterford, so that excitement has to wait!
Look closely! This is cleanest you will see them for the next month! The first of our students have already landed in Ireland for travels before the course begins on Monday. The rest of us are heading off on Saturday. We’ll be in Trim settling in on Sunday. Hoping for smooth travels for all!