There’s something ever-so-alluring about Ireland. I’m not sure if it’s the rolling green hills, the beautiful accents of the locals or their fondness for a beverage or two, but after crying my eyes out at the airport saying goodbye to Jamie, I was keen to see what Ireland had in store.
Have you ever met someone and just immediately known you were going to be friends? That’s how I feel about my friend Clare. All of the girls I lived with on exchange became halfway between sisters and friends and Clare was no exception. Somehow we just clicked. We had rooms right next to each other and often ended up napping at the same time. Perhaps it was our love of naps that brought us together….
Clare very kindly picked me up from the airport, and it was instantly clear that nothing had changed.
Clare’s family are amazing! They’ve got the same sense of humor as my family and immediately made me feel right at home. And seeing as it was Sunday, they had a night, big Sunday roast ready to go literally as we walked through the door. We laughed and ate and I got to know Clare’s family. Her dad and brother had me in stitches as they discussed the Soccer World Cup. Clare had drawn Argentina in the family draw and her dad had found himself with Germany. Needless to say, a very intense 90 minutes followed, but not nearly as intense as the extra time! Clare’s dad was gracious in victory, but we soon scarpered down to the pub.
The next day Clare had a big adventure sorted out for us. She showed me around Coleraine before we jumped in the car and headed for Belfast. Clare has some friends who go to uni there and assured my that my Irish experience would be incomplete without a visit to the Titanic Exhibition and night out in Belfast.
The Titanic was built by Harland and Wolff Ltd in Belfast but officially departed from Liverpool. The construction of the world’s biggest passenger cruiser brought not only a huge amount of money to Belfast, but an incredible surge of people looking for work. I found it really interesting to note that there was a huge influx of women to Belfast because the city offered them more independence and higher earnings. Perhaps an early version of the Equality movement?
The Exhibition tracks the construction of the Titanic, the fit-out and the launch.
It gets a little harrowing when the sinking of the Titanic is addressed. The SOS calls the Titanic made have been recorded on the walls and audio plays as you read them. You can read many of the stories of survivors, as well as those lost at sea.
Thankfully, the exhibition ends by looking at the Titanic from a pop culture perspective so I was like a kid in a candy store. There’s also a lifeboat in the middle of the pop culture room, so you leave with your spirits somewhat buoyed.
We headed from The Titanic Experience further into Belfast to meet with Clare’s friends, who were absolutely delightful! They took to mentality that they were friends with Clare, and Clare was friends with me, so we were all going to be friends. Grand! (as the Irish say)
Adam, Ciaran and Adam, along with their fourth flatmate who I did’t get to meet, all study either Engineering or Physics in Belfast, and take “work hard, play hard” to a whole new level. They’ve built their own bar and have a rather novel way of resolving disagreements.
Another one of my former flatmates, Claire, joined us for dinner. Two Irish flatmates, both called Clare/Claire, both beautiful people.
Sadly, she wasn’t feeling too well and didn’t follow us out.
We ended up at this great pub called the Dirty Onion. Coincidentally, there was a traditional Irish folk band playing in the corner and the boys weren’t bad dancers.
Or bad lifters….
The Band was very happy to pose for a groupie photo with us as well, which really made our night!