We had a warm welcome for our first ever program from Hastings, Nebraska, – and they brought the sunshine! Welcome to Donegal, Broncos! Our first sunny afternoon was spent exploring the mystical Wishing Chair and Fairy Bridges at Tullan Strand. Beautiful!
We began with a glorious sunny day for a visit to one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world! So today was our ‘Ancient Ireland’ day – we had a lecture on the neolithic period of Irish history, the geography and topology of the Irish landscape, mythology and sacred and secular spaces created by these mysterious first farmers.
Then it was off to County Cavan, to meet our archeological hero SEAMUS, and spend a wonderful afternoon in the forest, exploring portal tombs, hut sites, Atlantic rock art, foraging and tasting wood sorrell, and hiking up to amazing 360 views of the Northwest. Fabulous!
We made an unscheduled stop to pop into the Belleek Pottery Visitors Center for a browse around the museum, and some yummy cake!
Our lectures included studies of the Celtic era, the transition to early Christian Ireland , the fall of Gaelic Ireland and Red Hugh O’Donnell, and the Plantation of Ulster- so we visited various sites relevant to these topics- The Abby at Ballyshannon and Donegal Town, Catsby Cave, St. Patrick’s Well, and the O’Donnell castle in Donegal Town.
Another topic for lecture and discussion was the Great Hunger (Ireland’s Famine) and how poverty, starvation and emigration are still part of our contemporary experience. We visited several sites dating back to Famine times, including the Workhouse and the deserted villages of West Donegal.
‘The most beautiful place on earth’ gasped one of our students and who are we to disagree? It was a beautiful sunny March day, with a brisk Spring breeze, shining ocean, blooming heather, we were all in great form clambering around the mountain at the Sliabh Liag Cliffs.
March 7 was a day of adventure, as our Hastings College group took the Wild Atlantic Way by storm today, horse riding on the beach & surfing the wild waves… Exhilarating, was the verdict! A shoutout to Mr. Briany McEniff for treating our golfers to a fabulous lunch at Great Northern Hotel Bundoran after their first encounter with a ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ 18 holes! Thank you from Griffin, Wren, Tanner, Tucker, Jarod, Mason, Traygan, Kaeden & Tyler. ☘️
On March 8, to celebrate International Women’s Day and to give our visitors a taste of GAA football, we went to Donegal V Cork ladies for a great game, Donegal the winners! And thank you to all of the Aodh Ruadh club and Emer Gallagher for the warm welcome.
Then we had our Movie night with Davidson County Community College Hastings College & Virginia Tech at Ireland’s best cinema Eclipse Cinemas Bundoran watching #goodvibrations in preparation for our visit to the beautiful walled city of Derry on March 9.
March 10 –We departed for Dublin, stopping off to visit the Epic Diaspora museum, and try some Riverdancing! And then our group made a quick dash to get back home for…an extended Spring Break!