Tag: Ireland

“A Grand Day Out” – Weekend guide to Kerry

“A Grand Day Out” – Weekend guide to Kerry

Remember when Wallace & Gromit built that rocket in their basement to go to the moon? All they brought were some armchairs and cream crackers and they were happy out, and we can do the same! Ok, maybe not the moon part, or the rocket part but I mean a trip with only the bare essentials and still have a good run of it.

This is for all of us out there who wonder what to do with our lives every second weekend and scroll through Facebook for hours instead of getting out there. We’re students. We’re poor. But we can still make the most of what pocket change SUSI gives us.

For those of us in and around the Munster region I’d recommend a roadtrip to Killarney, via scenic West Cork of course, I did something similar over summer. In Killarney there is of course Killarney Park. It’s free in for cars and no entry fee either, perfect for cash strapped pockets. The landscapes and walks around the park can easily take up a day and all you need to bring with you is probably a lunch and not much else.

If you don’t have a car, Killarney is pretty well connected with public transport and wouldn’t cost a bomb. There’s also more hotels and hostels you could shake a stick at, and range from €10- €200+ so take your pick.

Cafes, chippers and restaurants galore in the town center so no excuses for going hungry! Killarney also has a lively nightlife with your usual pubs and clubs, being very tourist orientated you’ll find something to your liking.

Just a short run up the road is the seaside village of Dingle, or at least it used to be a village before a certain dolphin decided to move in. You could easily fill a day here wandering around the village between the knick-knack shops, restaurants, aquarium and waiting for Fungi boats to load up.

While in Dingle, be sure to try the craft ice creams in one of the many parlours around the place… and don’t be boring with your chocolate chip and vanilla scoops, try raspberry and brown bread flavors, trust me! Something else to try is the infamous deep-friend Mars bar with ice cream, just do it.

Visiting Dingle also constitutes a compulsory boat trip to see the man, ahem dolphin, himself. Student tickets are €15 and it’s a no-see-no-fee, i.e: If you don’t see Fungi, it’s free. A very worthwhile trip and a chance to see an amazing animal up close, just be aware the harbor entrance is very choppy 90% of the time and sea legs are an advantage.

So you’ve 2 days filled up, this is where you can call it a weekend and go home to the beige overlay of normality, or you could go adventuring. You’re in Kerry: mountains, beaches, forests, and castles? Climb a mountain, Go camping, try surfing (or go swimming in the lovely Kerry weather). Or re-enact the Shrek and Donkey scene with the dragon when you find that castle!

Use your imagination, what happens in the Kingdom, stays in the Kingdom. 

“Surf’s Up!” – Beginners guide to Surfing

“Surf’s Up!” – Beginners guide to Surfing

Surfing is Ireland’s fastest growing sport, and with 2,500km of prime Atlantic coastline there’s no shortage of surf to be had. The west coast draws the world’s top surfers every year and we’re quickly becoming a Mecca for surfers! Surfing is a fantastic way to stay fit and works your core and upper body, including muscles in your shoulders you can’t work any other way. And obviously, gives you the balance of a Flamingo atop the Eiffel Tower.

52-97-Rileys-100614091831-P4093572I’ve been surfing for just over 2 years now, and in that time I’ve noticed the difference already. When I was learning back in 2013 with Swell Surf School in Inch East Cork my lesson groups were relatively small, from 6-10 per lesson. After recently returning to the school and talking to my old instructor, he told me the groups have at least doubled, with the lesson that day being a group of 26! I was also on the committee for UCC Surf Club during 2014/15 year. In 2013/14 the club had roughly 350 members, which grew to 680 in 2014/15.

Not many of my friends surf, but many would like to and just don’t know where to start. So this is my guide to anyone interested in starting surfing!

  1. Find your Surf School: Professional instruction is the best way to go. There are surf schools on many surf beaches up and down the coast, and their friendly staff are there to help and make your learning as easy and fun as possible. Schools are usually open between April and October and provide all gear and instruction for less than €30 a session or will do package deals.
  2. Be confident in the sea: This sounds pretty basic, but be confident in your swimming ability before signing up. It is kinda important.
  3. Find a Surf buddy: When I started surfing, none of my friends surfed or had interest, so I did lessons on my own. Of course I wanted someone to go with, but if I waited on other people every time I wanted to do something, I’d get nothing done! I ended up making friends with the instructors because most other learners were well below my age, and they made things much easier. Having someone you know with you makes it more fun, you have someone to laugh at when they fall off!
  4. You will fall off: Everybody falls off sometime, and in Ireland be prepared for a chilly shock when you do! It’s all about muscle memory, and like with regular memory we all learn things at different paces. One of my instructors told me, “You could fall off a hundred times in a row, but it only takes a hundred and one tries to stand and stay standing“.

So if you’re no longer a grom and want to move up in the world, you’ll probably be drooling in the surf shop window at a shiny new board right about now. You’ve caught the Surf bug. You’re addicted. There’s no turning back.original

Ok, hold your horses. First you’ll be looking for your own gear, so run into the nearest surf shop and ransack the place right? Wrong. Shop around, both in-store and online for all your bits and pieces.

For your board: In-store is really your only option, unless you want to pay €100 in P&P! There will be a surf shop within spitting distance of any large surf spot. Tramore, Clonakilty, Lahinch, Bundoran, and all places in-between, a surf shop will sell surfboards. When getting lessons you’ll be on a foam board, high buoyancy and high volume. When buying your first hard-board you’ll be looking for the same qualities to make the transition smooth and wave count high. Avoid shortboards as a first board, I know they look cool but try a minimal or longboard, save yourself the frustration.

Don’t be afraid to look at used boards, especially if you’re on a budget. I bought my board brand new and it cost a cool €400… yeah, check DoneDeal.

For your Wetsuit: I bought mine online*. I have 2 wetsuits, a summer and a winter. My summer wetsuit is 3mm/2mm thick and has a zip on the back. My winter suit is 5mm/4mm and has the zip on the chest.

I personally wear my winter suit all year round, it’s warmer and more water-tight, but both types have their pro’s and con’s. Back-Zips are cheap and easy to get in/out of, but they leak icy cold water inside soon as you dive in (Nice!). Chest-Zips are more pricy and take practice and patience to get in and out of, but they are basically waterproof! Make your own decision on what style, but I’d recommend at least 4mm thick. Boots, gloves and hood are good for winter too! A decent, full wetsuit set (suit, gloves, hood, boots) will set you back about €200 and will last years with proper care.

To make the most of your time in the water, do some push-ups every day or so. It’ll make your pop-up stronger and keep away fatigue. Outside of that I can’t offer much else! Just go out, be safe, and have fun!

(*Buying wetsuit online: make sure to get your measurements right before ordering!)

For more: www.irishsurfing.ie

Liberté. Egalité. Fraternité.

Liberté. Egalité. Fraternité.

Attitudes to LGBT persons in Ireland have changed massively over the past few decades. I remember even when I was growing up in school, “Gay” was one of the most common and hurtful insults in a ten year-olds arsenal. Children were afraid to be anything but the norm, and at the time homosexuality wasn’t one of them.

I’m not going to dwell on the Catholic Church as they’ve gotten enough stick over the past few years, but for those who are familiar with the churches teachings know they are very anti-homosexuality, along with other morally challenging topics. The entwinement of the church and early Irish politics meant that many teachings found their way into legislations which still stand to this day. In order to change the legislations and move forward as a country and a people, we must vote in referenda to change/update these laws.

On the 22nd of May 2015, we will be called to vote on the marriage equality referendum. This will allow a change to Irish law which allows members of LGBT access to marriage in Ireland.

If you have yet to make up your mind, here’s all you need to know.

Vote Yesvia YesEquality.ie201411031133092

  • As it stands in the constitution, gay and lesbian couples cannot marry, and therefore do not have equal access to union that straight couples do.
  • Allowing lesbian and gay people get married just like everyone else will take from no one and will have no effect on anyone else’s marriage.
  • Irish People are fair-minded, welcoming and confident. This referendum is about making our laws reflect those values.
  • Mothers and fathers want all of their children to grow up in a country where they can have the same aspirations in life. The parents of gay and lesbian children want the same. Nobody wants second best for their child.
  • Civil partnership was a significant advance and couples across every county in Ireland have entered civil partnerships. However, civil partnership falls short of full constitutional equality. Only civil marriage equality can achieve this.

I personally am in support of the Yes campaign, but I suppose in the interest of fairness:

Vote No

  • You don’t like to see people happy.
  • You are afraid of change.
  • You don’t like weddings.
  • You don’t like the idea of an orphaned or abandoned child being given a second chance with two dedicated parents.
  • You received a large sum of money or other incentive from a major religious organisation/ Divine being.
  • You are too narrow-minded and stubborn to allow society to move forward.

Voila! The equality referendum summed up in a fair, and EQUAL manner!…

Joking and low-blows aside, this vote is a big step for Ireland. It is very important that anyone that can vote, does vote. This is your chance to have a say in how our country is run and may even open up windows for future referenda you want your say in.

When it comes down to it, if two people love each other and are dedicated to spending their lives together, who are we to say otherwise?