Friday, June 15, 2012

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"

The Women's Chorale Ireland tour group had a busy and wonderful day today. We started our Friday off with a wonderful breakfast at the Clayton Hotel in Galway. After everyone finished eating, we checked out of the hotel and boarded the bus to head to Bunratty Castle in County Clare.

The group outside of Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 and restored in 1954 to its former state. It now contains 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art to keep the mood of the castle the same. We also had the opportunity to experience the Bunratty Folk Park, which is a collection of over 30 buildings in a rural setting, as well as a "living" village. 

One of the buildings we visited was the School house. While there, we talked with Mike, who was very knowledgeable in the history of education and Irish culture. He told us about arranged marriages and dowries that used to take place in Ireland. 

Listening intently to Mike in "class"

To better explain how marriages worked back then, he used our very own Jessica Coffey as an example. Because she has no brothers and her mother has no brothers, it would be thought that she would not have sons, therefore making her not as "valuable" to the future husband's family. After they were wed, the husband's family could take everything from Jessica's family, because they were doing them a favor. Mike said, "let's all say three 'Hail Mary's' that Jessica finds a husband!" It was a fun part of the tour. :)

We visited many different shops in the Folk Park, including old candy stores, sweater shops, and a shop that makes jewelry right there in the park. One of the houses we toured in had something special going on. Two ladies were standing in the kitchen/family room, mixing what appeared to be ingredients for a cake. They were making it as if it were the 1400's though, and it was neat to listen to them talk about it, as well as watch their swift hands.

Watching one of the Bunratty ladies cook
The big part of the sight-seeing today was at Bunratty Castle. We had the amazing opportunity to sing "Danny Boy" on one of the top floors of the castle. While we were singing, the crowd grew bigger and bigger, and people were recording us on phones and cameras. Even Peter joined in and sang with us. :)

The castle had many nooks and crannies, including a dungeon and multiples look-outs on the top. The view from the towers was amazing. The architecture was gorgeous, and we learned many neat facts about the history of the castle and it's inhabitants.

After we finished touring Bunratty Castle and Park, we walked over to the original Durty Nelly's for lunch. For some, it was the first time they'd ever had the famous "fish and chips". Kayla K. said it was "soooo good" and Jessica W. raved that it was "delicious" :) Once everyone had paid for their food, we boarded the bus and headed to check into our next place: Killarney Court Hotel. 

Enjoying lunch at Durty Nelly's

We had some time to get ready for the concert, then headed down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Some of the menu choices included potato leek soup (hey, kaufman serves that!), chicken wrapped in bacon, and chocolate fudge cake. It was very good. :) We had a quick minute to change into our dresses, then were whisked away to St. Mary's Church of Ireland for our evening concert.

The church, which was beyond beautiful in looks, also had a beautiful sound to it when we sang. We had an incredibly responsive audience tonight. Each cutoff was met with a "wow" or a "yes!" They seemed to really be enjoying themselves. We had the pleasure of meeting a couple from Naperville who were staying in the hotel next door. They just happened to make friends with an awesome lady (and our new biggest fan), Candy, who was planning on going to our concert. It really is a small world. :)

The tour group at St. Mary's Church
Today was a busy day once again, but it was a great one. The concert was inspiring to many of the audience members. One man told us he was touched by "Untraveled Worlds". He had mentioned the text, from Tennyson's "Ulysses", in his high school graduation speech 60 years ago. It is truly amazing to see how music touches everyone in a different way. 

As always, thank you for following our blog. It means so much to us that you all are invested in this trip and in our group. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we miss and love you all! 

"and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand"


  1. Silly me...I forgot to mention the epic Limerick battle that happened on the bus! Our fantastic accompanist, Barbara, and our tour guide, Peter, were having quite the fun time writing limericks and reading them over the bus P.A. system. Once I get a copy of all of their writings, I'll post them on here. :)

  2. I love all of the stories!!! Keep them coming!

    Nicole (Alyssa's Mom)

  3. Thanks for making us all feel like we're right there with you with your wonderful blog writing... God bless you all!! Have fun! :) (Karin, Daina's mom Welsh)

  4. So happy to hear of your travels. Rebekah's Gma

  5. wow! This has made me hungry for the foods you have had a chance to try! How did the cakes turn out? It looked 'rustic' in the areas that they were baking. I want to say how deeply touched by the thought and vision I have of the girls singing in the public places. It just brings tears to my eyes. I also recognize how professional the girls look in the beautiful churhes! Are your faces tired from all the smiles and laughter? Jessica C. I told papa and grammie to look at the blog, especially the funny story about the 'arranged marriages.' They will laugh at that. Your Irish cousin Kyle would have found you a handsome mate AND kept the husband in line !!!! lol Auntie Debbie

  6. OK....please do not try to find Jessica a husband in Ireland....LOL

    I am so happy the trip is going so well! This will no doubt be a life time worth of memories for all of you!

    Pam Coffey

  7. Thank you to everyone who read and followed our Ireland adventures! It was truly a pleasure to write the blog for the week. :)