North Carolina Here We Come!

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Departure time: 4:30am Friday Morning
Departing from: Long Island, NY
Final Destination: Coastal North Carolina

Chris and I are leaving tomorrow morning to go and visit with his Grandparents who live in NC. We’ve had this trip planned for a while now and I’m super excited.

While I still have some packing to do, I finally feel at ease about this trip. I’ve only been home for a week now and I’m just starting to settle back into life here on the Island. But as of yesterday I still had a lot to do. My final paper for my class in Ireland is due tomorrow and Chris and I had to acquire an EZ pass… Driving into the city this morning was fun :p Now we’re all set in that department, which is nice. And I can safely say that my final paper has been turned in, well, emailed that is :)

Our drive tomorrow is supposed to be a little more than 10 hours, which means it will be 12… we are talking about I-95 after all. Anyway, we have snacks and music and a lot to look forward to on our drive. We stopped at Fairway after acquiring our EZ pass this morning. We’re fans of dried fruit for long car rides. It’s not messy, it tastes good, and it doesn’t make you feel icky like some junk food can. We bought dried apricots, dried mangos and sesame brittle. Yum! We’ll also have some yummy sammies for lunch. I cannot wait to dig in. 

Here are some things we’re looking forward to in NC:

- The beach.
- Finally being able to go out to dinner for our Anniversary.
- Day trips to Wilmington.
- Nana’s cooking. (Chris) … I’m excited too but this was his input :)
- Sunrises on the beach. 
- Pulled Pork. 
- Finishing up my reading list. (Mary)

See you soon, New York! 
Love and prayers,
Mary

Libraries For The Win.

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I went to drop off a book from my class in Ireland at my local library this past friday. I returned my book and was about to walk out when I decided to take a look around the recently renovated second floor. Of course I came across the religion section. I began looking and wasn’t very impressed by the selection. There were a lot of basic books on the major religions in the world. I wandered to the next row where I was pleasantly surprised. I came across numerous books written by Teresa of Avila, George Weigel, Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, and Scott Hahn. And so, I limited myself to three books. I made my way through the stacks and chose three books, two by Scott Hahn and one by Benedict XVI. 

The first book I decided to read was “Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God” by Scott Hahn. I finished it last night and felt a great peace about knowing and loving our Queen Mother. Scott Hahn takes his readers through his own journey of faith; from believing that Catholics worship Mary to understanding the Church’s teachings on Jesus’s mother and why it is a vital part of the faith. 

If you’ve ever had trouble understanding Mary in the life of the Church, I would recommend this book. I’ve never doubted Church teaching on Momma, but I certainly didn’t have a mastery over it either. Hahn takes us through the Bible, and shows how Mary was a part of God’s plan for salvation all along. 

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I really enjoyed reading this book. But I think that this passage above was the pivotal point in reading for me:

“Christian history works with precision, for example, in recounting deaths and torments of the martyrs; but history leaves us few and sparse accounts of the love of Christian mothers. Yet can we doubt that, in every generation, mothers have produced as many Christians as martyrs did?”
(Hahn 170). 

These two sentences blew my mind. It really gave me a new perspective on mothers in the faith. 

Love and prayers,
Mary

30 Day Modesty Challenge

I’ve been home for about 3 days now and Long Island is hotter than I remembered. Beautiful Galway was a constant 60 degrees fahrenheit; it was gorgeous and cool and perfect for layering clothes. Long Island has been 80 degrees fahrenheit (much hotter and more humid). As I was browsing facebook I saw that Jason and Crystalina Evert had shared a Modesty Challenge that blogger, Kileen Willis, had started. Basically, its a challenge to dress modestly in today’s world. So I’ve decided to take the 30 day challenge to show that:

1. It’s possible
2. It’s worth it

I’ll post updates weekly, here and on Dignitatem. In the meantime, I’ll post a selfie here and there on Instagram using the hashtag #30daymodestychallenge

modesty is always beautiful

Here is the link to the original post that I found on facebook,
Will join me in this challenge?

love and prayers,
Mary

Untouched Ireland

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It’s hard to believe that this is the same country that we have been in for the past month. This trip has flown by! It has been packed to the brim with adventures each and every day. Our past couple of days in Donegal have been incredible; we have visited the Maghera caves and beach, Sliabh Liag and St. John’s point. 

This place is other worldly. The memories I have from these past few days are ones that will never leave me. When else will I wade through water in my jeans to see a sea cave? Not anytime in the immediate future. 

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I’m loving this place. 

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Sliabh Liag are the highest cliffs in Europe, and today we ate ice cream at the top. 

If you’re ever in Ireland take advantage of the gorgeous views, and the ice cream. If you can, multitask, and do them at the same time :)

Love and prayers,
Mary

Translations

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Yesterday we left Galway and made our way through Sligo into Donegal. Obadiah was ready to leave, but I’m not sure about the rest of us. In Sligo we were able to visit W.B. Yeats’s grave. Having taken a class on Yeats last semester, I was floating on air as we entered the church yard. 

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We arrived in Glencolmcille late afternoon and then took a stroll around town. GCC, as we like to call it is an area of Donegal that is basically untouched. The road signs here are not in English and Irish but rather only in Irish. This really connected to one of the plays we read, Translations, by Brian Friel. It was a very interesting play and has played a key role in how we, as students, are experiencing this remote area of Donegal.

The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, however it can be hard to take a nice picture from a bumpy cab ride. I stopped in the local church to check for mass times and guess who was there? Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This is the third time I have seen my parish’s image since I have been abroad. Looks like I have someone watching over me ;)

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Last but not least, we had a real hostel experience last night. All the guests sat in the kitchen and took turns playing  music and singing. It was a mix of American, Irish, and Spanish guests. This was not something that I was expecting. Although our spanish wasn’t great, and their english wasn’t great, we were able to get by and enjoy eachothers company. They even played piano man for us Long Islanders. :)

Love and prayers,
Mary

This Land Tells a Story

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I’m not really sure how to start this post. This weekend I went up to visit my Dad’s cousins. I took a 6 hour bus ride where I was greeted by my cousin, Mary, and her brother (whom I hadn’t met before). We toured the city that I came into. I saw where many historical events occurred. I had chills. Then we went back to Mary’s house and turned in for the night. The next morning we headed out to the town where my grandfather, Hugh, was born and where he lived until he was 20 years old. We visited: the farm,”Whitehill”; the Church; the school and the top of a hill (pictured above). I still don’t feel like this happened.

In class we have been talking about how the land tells a story, and this is where great literature comes from. This weekend, I can attest that this land does indeed tell a story. My grandfather never made it back “home” but my extended family took me in, and their hospitality was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was surreal, but I’ve finally been to this place. I am so glad that this land tells a story.

Love and prayers,
Mhaire Ní Mhaoláin

p.s. I even learned my name in Irish.

A little bit of Galway…

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We visited the Galway City Museum. It featured art as well as bits of history. 

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We had the Irish equivalent to Chipotle… it was delish. 

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We went to the Film Fleadh and saw beautiful brick work. 

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Above: Padraic O Conaire statue from the Galway City Museum and the arts council signage from the film fleadh. 

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And last but not least, a selfie. 

Love and prayers,
Mary

Film Fleadh: The Stranger

Earlier this evening our group was able to participate in the Galway Film Fleadh. To be honest, I thought we were just seeing a movie as a class. However we arrived at the Town Hall Theater and there were a lot of people there. We received our tickets, sat down in the theater and watched as the movie was introduced.

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It was the world premier of a movie called, “The Stranger”. It was directed by Neasa Ní Chianáin. The documentary focused on the life of Neal MacGregor who was an English Artist who moved to Donegal and died alone at the age of 44. The movie was filmed beautifully. It really captured the essence of what I think is Donegal. I’ll let you know for sure when I arrive there tomorrow ;) Anyway, the film was about an hour and a half long and thoroughly enjoyable. Neal’s brother, Stuart, was also at the premier. He helped to answer some of the questions from the Q&A. We learned that those involved in the film only actually filmed for 10 days, the rest of the work was research on Neal’s life. 

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We learned that the place where Neal lived was remote and there are some who still believe he was a spy. There are some who grew to understand him also. The film spoke to that. Neasa informed us that the film would be shown next weekend to the community that Neal lived in. 

Overall this was a really unique experience for our study abroad group. How many 21 year olds are able to attend an international film festival and see some of the films? Now, I can say I have. 

Love and prayers,
Mary

Dublin for the Day!

Yesterday, July 8, 2014, we embarked on a journey to Dublin for the day. We took the 5:30 am train from Galway to Dublin. Not realizing that a cab ride to the train would take 5 minutes (rather than 20), we left our dorms at 4:45 on the dot. We arrived in Dublin after racing through the countryside at 8am. By 8am we had crossed the entire country. We made our way to city centre, had breakfast and took a bus tour of the city. We used the Hop on Hop off buses, they’re great because they double as mass transit after the first go-around. Some of my favorite parts of the day include: seeing the Book of Kells and the Trinity College Library, seeing James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, The National Art Gallery, and the Guinness Brewery.

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Trinity College Library. I still can’t get over how beautiful this place is. Certainly makes that MLIS seem like a good decision.

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Hanging out with Joyce…

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And Oscar Wilde…

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Found near the Oscar Wilde statue. I love this quote!

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Again, another quote. This time in the National Art Gallery.

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Last but not least, here is one of the many views from the Guinness Brewery’s Gravity Bar. The top floor of the brewery was packed. This is where we were able to get a spot. Way in the distance, you can see the center of town (and the point!). The brewery was a really cool place to visit. It was a little disney-esque, but still very cool. Then we walked back to Heuston Station and took the 6:30pm train back to Galway. We arrived “home” at about 9pm, had some dinner and went to sleep. An exhausting day, but very much worth it to see Dublin.

Love and prayers, Mary