Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College presents... IRELAND!

June 25th, 2010 | SMWC

Ireland Tour Blog

Gwen Tucker, Director of Alumnae Relations, will be posting regular blog entries to this page.  Keep checking back to for stories and photos from the tour.

View photos of the tour on flickr.

Also be sure to follow us on twitter for real-time updates from the tour!

National Stud and Kilkenny Castle

Sunday, June  27

Goodbye for now, Dublin. We boarded the bus for our journey south to tour the Irish National Stud: Where strength and beauty live as one. Upon arrival, we followed our tour guide, Kate around the grounds. She was very knowledgeable and made the whole experience great. Highlights of the visit include the young horses running over to the gate for us to lavish attention upon, viewing the Japanese gardens which takes you through the Life of Man and visiting St. Fiachra's Garden.

We learned the Irish National Stud hosts students for summer internships. In exchange for working and learning on the farm, the students receive free room and board. Imaging, a summer in Ireland as an internship – what a great opportunity for Woods equine students!

Then it was off to the bus were we enjoyed a box of Butler's chocolates. We had an unexpected visitor at the hotel in Dublin. A friend of SMWC who lives near Dublin heard about the trip and found us in our hotel. She wished us well and sent us off with a box of the famous chocolates to enjoy. This was a great treat as we set off for Kilkenny to visit the castle.

It was a beautiful ride south to the town of Kilkenny. Upon arrival we set off on a self-guided tour of the castle that has been partially refurbished to its old glory. It is a beautiful property next to a river that the local community utilizes as a park. We witnessed many families taking time on a Sunday afternoon for a picnic in the park that included ice cream for everyone.

We all gathered on the bus for the trip down to Waterford. This again was a beautiful trip to our next hotel, Dooley's Hotel. We then met the group for dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Then a few of us were lucky enough to get a local history lesson from Jack. Jack is an award-winning guide who made the history of Waterford come to life.
Then it was off to bed for another day of exciting adventure.

Exploring Dublin

Saturday, June 26

Saturday morning breakfast in Ireland sure isn’t what I’m used to.  Instead of cereal and toast, we are served a full breakfast including the strongest coffee you ever tasted.  Then it was off for a day full of activities.  Kilmainham Jail was an eye-opening experience.  The stories shared by our tour guide gave us a real perspective on how life in Dublin and Ireland were during the Potato Famine.  Makes us realize how lucky we are to live in modern times.  Check out the pictures of the jail on Flickr.

Then it was off to Guinness Brewery.  We started the activity off with lunch in the onsite restaurant.  Then it was up to the …bar to taste the Dublin beer of choice: Guinness.  With paid admission we were allowed one pint of Guinness.  We got some great pictures.  Then we learned how to pour or stack our own pint as well as how to make an aging barrel.  Did you know that the term for barrel makers is a “cooper?” 

Shopping at the Guinness store concluded our stay at the Guinness brewery and it was back to the hotel, then an afternoon free to explore more of Dublin.  I choose to find Trinity College with fellow adventurers Brian and Brenda.  Brenda and I enjoyed the story of the ancient Book of Kells that is on display at the College.  I couldn’t help but notice some of the dates of documents; some as old as SMWC…1840.

Dinner was at the Abbey Tavern in a small town just outside of Dublin.  We ate corned beef and cabbage or local salmon and finished it off with a real Irish coffee.  Yum!  We enjoyed traditional Irish music along with actual step dancers.  I was amazed at the quickness of feet and talented singers.  We all had a good time.  The best part was when we sang Molly Malone as a group.

On the way home, the singing continued with our bus driver Paddy singing Irish folk songs.  Then we were serenaded with the music of SMWC past.  We sang and reminisced about the freshman, sophomore, Junior and senior songs then were given a sample by alums.  Oh, it was a good time!  
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Dublin.  We visit the National Stud and Kilkenny castle on our way to Waterford.  Till then, Cheers.

Arrival in Dublin

Friday, June 25

Today we arrived in Dublin.  The plane ride was smooth.  We successfully found our tour guide/coach driver, Paddy.  Really, his name is Paddy!  After clearing customs and finding our bags, we made it to our bus and set off for a tour of the city of Dublin.  We picked up the city tour guide as Paddy had to concentrate on driving.    His name was Tommy O’Rilley; quite the character.  Our first stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  What a great way to kick off the tour!  It didn’t quite take my breath away like stepping into the Big Church on campus, but it came close.  Then it was off to our first hotel for the trip, the Mont Clare Hotel.  We had time to explore Dublin on our own by taking off individually for afternoon adventures.  I joined fellow traveler Jo Vonna and Lynne at a local pub called Kennedy’s.  Here we experienced our first plate of fish and chips and pint of beer.  We also discovered that smashed peas are a great side dish.  We’ll have to try that one at home.

Early to bed tonight!  Jet lag has hit us hard.  Till tomorrow, Gwen

On our way to Ireland

Thursday, June 24

Today, SMWC embarked on our journey to Ireland.  We have 31 travelers in our group consisting of alumnae, students, staff and friends of The Woods.  As we settle in for our 7 hour flight to Dublin, we are getting to know one another.  Just imagine if Saint Mother Theodore could have taken an airplane instead of the 39-day voyage upon a ship from France to New York?  Guess we shouldn't complain about 7 hours, huh?

Make sure you follow us on twitter!  Click the "Twitter Updates" tab above or visit

Real-time Tweets

gtucker.jpgGwen Tucker, Director of Alumnae Relations will be tweeting all throughout the Ireland tour. Follow us on twitter to receive real-time updates, send us trip suggestions, and share the fun!

Who's going to Ireland?

The following individuals have RSVP'ed for the Ireland trip.

Gwen Tucker '08G

April Simma '03

Barbara Doherty, SP '53

Patricia Doherty Finnegan '56

Mary (Maggie) Mullins '08

Carol Mullins

Annette McMullen '66

Lynn Meyer

Virginia (Ginger) Smith '89

Rebecca Williams

Diana Kesheimer '74

Peter Kesheimer

Mary Weber '75

Robert Weber

Margaret (Meg) Clare Swift Rogers '80

Ellen Swift

Gwenn Goebel '01

Kathy Newhart '06

Betty Harris '03

Rebecca Wyse

Jessica Zogbi

Eve Zogbi

JoVonna Hogan '05

Lynne Watson '03

Nancy Kremer '77

Christine Epstein

Brenda Fillingim

Brian Fillingim

Kathleen Wright '69

Kimberly Page

Itinerary / Map

Map of the Ireland trip showing desinations and overnight stays.

On the web...

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