Ireland 2019: It ain’t over till it’s over

I write this morning (Thursday, 18 July), to my surprise, from the Carlton Hotel at Dublin Airport, rather than from inside Terminal 2 where I expected to be doing a bit of duty-free shopping, having a latte, and waiting to be called to board our flight. It’s fair to say that things have not gone according to plan, but we are all comfortable enough and we all know how and when we are getting home. It just won’t be today.

We wrapped up the program last night with our “gala dinner”: a fancied-up meal in one of the WIT restaurants, for which all the students dress up a bit, which featured speeches (me), an art exhibition (the students), a poetry reading (also the students), and even a bit of dancing (yep, also the students). Everyone finished our cleaning and packing and many of us went out for at least one last beverage. I went to bed around 10:30 with the alarm set for 4:00 in anticipation of a 5:15 departure for the airport. In true form, I woke up around 3:15. Most of us have not had a lot of sleep; some of us, maybe none at all. But we were on time and rolled out at 5:15 as scheduled. We were about halfway to Dublin when my colleague showed me the distressing announcement on Delta’s app of a 3-hour flight delay. Our 12:20 departure was pushed to 3:10. Not great, but just a long wait in the airport. We soldiered on with equanimity.

One student had a connection in Atlanta for El Paso that he wasn’t going to make because of the delay. I advised him to go up to the desk as soon as we arrived and talk to them about rebooking. When I got inside the terminal after helping unload luggage, he came to meet me with an alarmed look. “Now they’re saying our flight is canceled,” he told me. “They want to talk to you.” Program Director Mode: Activated!

Here’s where I have to start giving Delta Air Lines and our students a ton of credit. The airport services manager greeted me and immediately outlined a plan. He had been on the phone with Delta and with the Carlton and gotten arrangements made for our group before ever approaching or speaking to me. I was thus able to turn to the students and tell them exactly what was happening and what we would do next. Delta would pay for our hotel night, meals, transportation between the airport and the hotel, and would rebook us as soon as the cancellation of the flight became official. They were calling the hotel to come and get us early so that we wouldn’t be sitting in the airport any longer than necessary. They also gave us a voucher for €3 each for coffee while we waited for the hotel pickup.

The students were distressed—some were tearful—but everyone stuck together, rallied, and comforted each other. Some watched luggage while others took restroom breaks. Some made the coffee run while the rest stayed behind to call parents. No one asked unanswerable questions e.g. “Why are they doing this to us?” Some were even checking up on me. “How are you doing? This must be really tough for you!” I’m so grateful to be able to say it hasn’t been as hard as it could have been. Communication has been clear, Delta has been responsive, and students have been attentive exactly when we most need them to be. I feel for them as they deal with this disruption. They and their families aren’t used to it. Family members had taken time off work to pick their students up from the airport. One grandmother had come the night before and stayed in a hotel, and would now need to get an extra hotel night and figure out what to do about her pets. Everyone is very tired, most of them are pretty broke, and we are all ready to be home. But it could have been much, much worse.

Delta automatically rebooked us all for tomorrow and I realized when the new confirmation came in that they had actually added a flight to accommodate the cancellation. They could hardly have done otherwise; it’s peak travel season and “our” flight (DL177) is full every day. But I was far from expecting it and was envisioning a nightmare scenario in which we were split amongst multiple flights and plane changes to get home. If everything goes as planned tomorrow, I’ll consider victory well snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Update: Dateline 33,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, near the southern tip of Greenland. Victory is ours! The afternoon and evening were relaxing and pleasant once we got into our rooms and could seize the day for enjoying the hotel or the city. This morning was a rush through check-in, Irish security, TSA security, and customs preclearance, but we all made it onto the flight in good order and good humor. About 4 hours from now we’ll be landing in Atlanta.

Terrible photo but pretty representative of what I like to do in Dublin!

Henry Street as seen on my Instagram (I forgot to save the picture!)

Flying home at last

Ireland 2019: Little differences

I got to thinking over the weekend about the “little differences” that stand out when one visits a different country. Especially if you spend enough time in a particular place that you encounter grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and so forth, the differences are small but striking. As someone suggested to me, it’s all just different enough to make ordinary experiences a little more challenging–and just similar enough to make you feel a little disoriented!

The bathroom light switch is always on the outside.

No power outlets in the bathroom except a shielded one for an electric razor.

European keyboards are just different enough to be a little frustrating.

Irish water heaters a.k.a. “the immersion.” Even private homes have some version of this rather baffling system.

Lots of food products have these little cooking instructions on the packages. (“Hob” = stovetop.)

License plates (I think in Ireland they say “number plates” or “registration plates”): I didn’t take a picture of one but Irish reg plates go like this:


where the first part is the year plus “1” for January through June or “2” for July through December (so 192 doesn’t actually start for another week), the middle part is an abbreviation for the county (W is for Waterford), and the last part indicates that this car was the nth car registered in that county during that period. There would never be 12,345 cars registered in 6 months in County Waterford, but maybe in Dublin. The plate also shows the name of the county in Gaelic. Sometimes if you aren’t sure based on the abbreviation, you can figure out the country from its Gaelic name: L = Luimneach = Limerick. Sometimes it’s total confusion: MH = An Mhi = Meath. (It doesn’t help that I do not yet know all the county names.)


I love being in another country, observing these differences, and trying to put the pieces together to figure out why things are the way they are. I will never fully understand “the immersion,” but, I am confident, neither does anyone else!

Ireland 2019: Ring of Kerry

We returned Saturday evening from touring the Ring of Kerry, a 179-kilometer (111-mile) scenic/tourist/historical route around the Iveragh Peninsula in Co. Kerry in the southwest (Munster province). It’s probably the part of the country that I most wish my parents could have seen. They were always up for a scenic drive and subjected treated my brother and me to many of them as we were growing up!

From Waterford we headed west on Thursday morning toward our base of operations in Killarney, with a stop in Cork to break up the drive. I hadn’t been to Cork before–last year I missed this day on the program because of an emergency–and I wish I’d had more than a couple of hours to spend there this year. It’s bustling like Dublin but more compact-seeming. I just had time for lunch with colleagues and a very quick dip into a couple of stores (several of us went to Lush for bath bombs in anticipation of the bathtubs in our hotel rooms!) before hitting the road again.

I only took 4 pictures in Cork. I’m a good program director but a terrible blogger sometimes.

Had to capture the giant moka pot on the side of that building!

After 2 years enjoying the golf course views and occasional deer sightings at the Castlerosse Hotel on the outskirts of Killarney, we had to change hotels this year to get the dates we wanted. We chose the Killarney Towers Hotel, right in the city center, and were not disappointed. Killarney town is pleasant and walkable, with lots of places to eat, drink, and shop, and the hotel is very comfortable, especially after 4 weeks of dorm beds and cafeteria food. I can’t speak for anyone else but I slept extremely well and enjoyed my bathtub very much.

Friday morning we got the worst weather of the day out of the way in the first 20 minutes while walking to the bus. The rest of the day was excellent–blue skies and puffy clouds but not too hot. Touring the Ring of Kerry is one of the few times during the program when we really need good weather, so we were blessed to get it! We visited some towns and historic sites and just plain gorgeous views during the day:

Kerry Bog Village: a reproduction 19th-century peat cutters’ village.

This “Romany caravan” is not very different from what traditional Irish Traveller caravans looked like in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The remains of a 19th-century stone cottage whose owners left because of the Famine.

The Bog Village has two Irish wolfhounds. They’re enormous but smiley and eager for pets.

Getting photos at a scenic overlook.

Waterville, where Charlie Chaplin lived.

From Com an Chiste you can see to the Skelligs if the weather is clear enough. We could not see Skellig Michael a.k.a. the Star Wars island.

Our final stop was the Ladies’ View, so called because Queen Victoria and her ladies-in-waiting thought it was the prettiest place on the Ring when they toured it.

Saturday we returned to Waterford by way of Blarney Castle. I continued my tradition of NOT going into the castle or kissing the stone. It was a particularly good day for not kissing the stone, because the place was packed and the queue was massive–up to an hour and a half wait. Luckily, the grounds and gardens are beautiful and it’s a great place to walk around and take photos. I never feel like I am missing out by not going in. The Blarney Castle “campus” is also the home to Blarney Woollen Mills, which bills itself as the biggest Irish goods store in the country. If you want a souvenir of Ireland–from a €3 plastic leprechaun to a €3000 piece of Waterford crystal–you can find it there. The number of Blarney Woollen Mills shopping bags that came back with us on the bus Saturday afternoon was . . . considerable.

What’s not pictured in my Ring of Kerry pictures is the time we spent riding the bus between “places.” The journey is at least as good as the destination; the point is definitely not to get there but to be there. And the views from the jump seat on the bus are spectacular! Just remember that cars go clockwise on the Ring and buses go counterclockwise (anticlockwise if you’re Irish). In a fair few spots the road is only about 1.25 lanes wide and someone has to move aside to let someone else pass. The Ring would not function if buses had to try to pass each other. Even with everyone moving in their prescribed directions, there’s always a BMW driver who thinks he can play chicken with a bus and win. I gotta give a shout out to our bus driver, Tony, who was doing the Ring for the first time and crushed it. He got us through Beemer encounters, hairpin turns, narrow tunnels, sections of road that were obviously paved-over cow paths (the Irish word for “road,” bóthar, literally means “cow path”), and a narrow escape from our hotel Saturday morning after a food delivery truck blocked the bus lane. I hope he had a really restful Sunday!

And now it’s Monday afternoon and we are officially on the short countdown to departure for home early Thursday morning. Already???

Ireland 2019: An Rinn Gaeltacht

Believe it or not, yesterday (Tuesday) was our last “regular” field trip. This program is flying by so fast! Everyone is starting to talk/ask questions about our departure back to Georgia, which is a week from tomorrow. Don’t ask me yet if I’m ready to go home! Yesterday we explored the part of Co. Waterford called An Rinn–loosely Anglicized as “Ring” but usually not Anglicized at all because An Rinn is a Gaeltacht: an Irish-speaking region. There are seven Gaeltachtaí in Ireland with An Rinn being the farthest east. We visited Coláiste na Rinne, a secondary school where all instruction is carried out in Irish, and met a couple of its administrators before setting off on our tour with one of them. Even the tiny bit of immersion we were in contact with by spending an hour there was interesting. It’s disconcerting to be in a school and realize you can’t understand the intercom announcements or the conversations between the staff members. But the existence and popularity of the school (which offers summer intensive programs as well as regular academic instruction) demonstrates how important the Irish language still is. I will say that after 3 years coming here, a tiny bit of independent study, and generally paying attention, I can recognize a few words in basic Irish and figure a little more out from context. So at least I am learning something. And I had a great conversation with our guide Martín about how new words are coined in Irish, using “mobile phone” as an example. It turns out that there are 2 terms for it: “fón póca” (pocket phone) and the more properly Gaelic “guthán soghluaiste” (phone that moves around).  Googling suggests that “fón póca” and “guthán póca” are more common. The other example I suggested to Martín was “transgender” but we didn’t get around to that one, unfortunately.

The first stop on our tour was the famine graveyard in Ardmore, which is the final resting place–in unmarked graves–of a thousand or more victims of the famine in the late 1840s. Between deaths and emigrations, Ireland’s population was cut in half by the famine and still has not recovered.

These places are sad but I am glad they still exist and people still visit them. Ireland’s history is still so present for its people–it’s something Americans could learn a lesson from.

With a few short stops along the way we arrived in the town of Ardmore where we set off with Liam, the former headmaster of Coláiste na Rinne, to tour some sites associated with St. Declan and take the Ardmore cliff walk. St. Declan lived in the 5th century and founded a monastery in Ardmore; he is considered at least locally to have preceded St. Patrick in bringing Christianity to Ireland:

This church window reminds viewers (in Irish) that “Declan is the Patrick of Waterford.”

St. Declan is said to have come here in a boat by following a mysterious floating stone.

Liam shows us this altar near St. Declan’s well in Ardmore.

The cliff walk itself is 4 kilometers and a little strenuous (but only a little), but well worth it for the amazing views:

The walk ends at the last St. Declan site, where he built his monastery and where he is buried:

The medieval round tower at the site of St. Declan’s monastery.

This field trip is great because all the students start out panicking about the walking distance and end up dazzled by how beautiful the cliffs are. Liam and Martín are great guides, too. Their pride in where they live and its history and culture shines through. Makes you want to be Irish or at least learn to speak Irish!

Ireland 2019: Dublin visit

Our program’s visit to Dublin each year is definitely a highlight. It’s fantastic to have a program that’s not based in a major city; being in Waterford is much less costly and affords us more flexibility to travel around the country. But Dublin is the capital, it’s an amazing city, and it is not to be missed. Interestingly, the students don’t always love it. Many of them are attracted to this program because of its more rural setting. The sudden plunge into an urban environment at the height of tourist season is challenging. They learn plenty about Irish history and culture in Dublin but they learn at least as much about forward planning, problem-solving, and using public transit. And Gaelic sports! Our first stop is Croke Park, the national home of Gaelic sports–hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, and women’s Gaelic football. It has an important place in the history of Irish independence as the site of the 1920 “Bloody Sunday” attack. The stadium in its current form (there has been a GAA venue on the site since 1913) seats about 82,000 people.

In the dressing room listening to our tour guide.

Looking up the stands to where trophies are presented.

On the pitch, or at least next to it–we were not allowed to walk on the grass!

The best part of the Croke Park tour is the “skywalk” around the top of the stadium. Great views of Dublin!

On the “cantilever” section of the skywalk that extends over the pitch. I love it up there!

From Croke Park we stop at our lodgings on Dublin City University’s Glasnevin campus (check out DCU Rooms if you need inexpensive, no-frills accommodation in Dublin in the summer) to drop off luggage, then head into the center of the city for a short walking tour down O’Connell Street to Trinity College. The Liffey River divides Dublin into north and south sides and makes it pretty easy to navigate. Starting from Charles Stuart Parnell’s statue on upper O’Connell, you head down toward the river via the General Post Office (important 1916 Rising site) and the Millennium Spire to Daniel O’Connell’s statue. Cross the river and bear right and you’re at the front gate of Trinity College. It’s taken me a few visits to get the hang of all this but I’m finally getting the rest of my Dublin points of interest oriented around those basic landmarks.

Parnell’s statue at the top of O’Connell

Looking down O’Connell toward the Spire.

The Spire + the GPO + a Dublin Bus is Dublin in one photograph.

At the base of O’Connell’s statue, Jonathan fills us in on some history.

Crossing the river

Trinity College

From here we dismissed the students to get dinner on their own and we faculty decamped to an undisclosed location for our dinner (Pro[gram director] tip: keep a good restaurant/bar/pub in your back pocket and do not share it with students. Everyone needs their own space). On Wednesday the faculty had field trips with their classes but I did not have to attend anyone’s field trip, so I was at large in Dublin:

This is my favorite spot on a Dublin Bus (top deck, front seat) right up until the bus lurches to a stop 1.5″ from the back of another bus.

I went back to the Book of Kells and Old Library at Trinity. No photography in the Book of Kells room but they did have this great exhibit of the materials used to make colored inks for manuscripts.

Some friends I saw in the Old Library . . .

The beloved second husband of my research subject Mary Delany.

Shakespeare, of course!

The “Brian Boru harp,” a Renaissance-era harp traditionally associated with the legendary medieval musician Brian Boru and now used as a national symbol of Ireland.

They call it the Old Library but it never gets old.

Love this quotation on a window at Trinity.


Thursday I went with one of the professors and his class on his field trip to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (my favorite place in Dublin) and then to Glasnevin Cemetery, Ireland’s national cemetery. There are three times more people buried in Glasnevin than there are living in Dublin today! I somehow barely took any pictures at St. Patrick’s

Queen Anne’s patent granting Jonathan Swift the freedom of the city of Dublin.

Stained glass in St. Patrick’s

Saw lots of unusual and beautiful monuments at Glasnevin:

Daniel O’Connell’s grave

Friday was the beginning of our free weekend and of my weekend off. I kept it mellow in Dublin and finally made it to visit the Chester Beatty Library, a fantastic museum of manuscripts (and some early print materials) from around the world. Couldn’t take pictures inside the exhibits but the building and grounds are really cool too.

Making friends in St. Stephen’s Green.

Approaching the Chester Beatty.

Inside the roof garden.

Looking out from the roof garden.

Back at ground level. That’s Dublin Castle across the lawn.

My favorite part of the weekend was Saturday (yesterday) when I went to Dublin Pride. I hadn’t been to a Pride parade since about 2004 and I regretted not going to last year’s Dublin Pride, so I decided to make up for it this year. It was so much fun. Just a friendly and happy atmosphere with smiles on everyone’s faces and, of course, rainbows everywhere:

The GPO decked out for the occasion.

Dublin Bus goes all-out for Pride every year.


Everyone was in the parade. Not just LGBT+ organizations but political parties, unions, government bureaux, corporations (lots of tech companies have headquarters in Dublin): everyone!

The Gardaí brought their band, a bunch of officers in dress uniform, and another bunch of “supporters” in matching t-shirts.

Some awesome wings.


I’m thinking these folks are SCA?

Dropbox’s float

My colleague Dr. Stewart will want to add this suit to his collection.

See, everyone was in the parade!

I went to the after party in Merrion Square for a few minutes but before I knew it it was time to go back to DCU and collect my backpack, then head to the train station and back to Waterford. The week and weekend were packed and seemed to go by so fast; I know my pictures and paragraphs do not do justice. I did not take pictures of:

  • Breakfast at DCU
  • Riding the #13 bus a million times
  • Hodges Figgis
  • Walking 10 miles a day, mostly on O’Connell St.
  • Two different picnic lunches in parks
  • Coffee Angel, Costa, Caffe Nero, another Costa . . .
  • An amazing dinner at Marco Pierre White
  • A pint of Guinness, a pint of Bulmer’s, maybe another pint of Bulmer’s in there somewhere
  • Everything I didn’t buy in Grafton Street

Dublin is pretty cool, folks. I recommend it.

Ireland 2019: First week

It’s Thursday Friday and this week we’ve been through 2 class days and 2 field trip days, 6 doctor visits (!), 4 breakfasts, 2 lunches, at least 2 counties, one cathedral, two castles, and an undefined but large quantity of ice cream. Students and most of the faculty are off on their first free weekend and I am holding the fort here and getting some work done (read “watching Netflix”) while it’s quiet.

It feels like the days and weeks go faster every year that I’m here, maybe because there is an element of routine that is created. It’s nice to feel a sense of routine in a faraway place–one of the advantages of returning to a destination multiple times. A few things change (the cafeteria has been remodeled, the bus routes have been renumbered) but many more stay the same. All of a sudden lots of people here at WIT know me, and I know them. “Welcome back” is a sweet thing to hear!

Classes have been going smoothly and although we did have an unusual number of minor illnesses this past week, I think we are over that particular hump. The physical and mental stress of travel will do a number on one’s immune system, so it’s not that surprising that we had a few casualties. What is surprising is that this group of students has been fantastic about showing up on time for everything. It sounds like a small matter but in a group situation, getting everyone from place to place in a timely manner is a challenge. The challenge is compounded if people are a little lackadaisical about the schedule. We impressed this concern on the students at orientation and they have really come through. Every time we get on the bus, we count off to make sure we’re all aboard, and every time, they’re all in place.  It’s dazzling!

So here were our field trip destinations for this week: Tuesday we started at Woodstock House, a former eighteenth-century stately home that is now a ruin and unlikely to be restored (for a mixture of political and economic reasons), but that is surrounded by extensive and very beautiful gardens that are under restoration by Kilkenny County Council.

Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge, the longest single bridge span in the Republic and surely the prettiest.

Woodstock House–likely to stay a ruin as it would cost a fortune to restore and not everyone appreciates a monument to British aristocracy.

Flowers at Woodstock House

The view from the front garden of Woodstock House.

From there we went to Kilkenny town to visit St. Canice’s Cathedral, second oldest in Ireland after St. Patrick’s in Dublin, and Kilkenny Castle. They are separated by the “Medieval Mile,” a narrow street of shops and restaurants that reminds you how old the city is. It’s a fantastic place.

The medieval round tower at St. Canice’s–one of only a few in which you can climb to the top.

Stained glass is hard to photograph but sometimes I get lucky.

Stained glass at St. Canice’s

The Butlers of Ormonde ruled the Kilkenny area starting in the 1300s and owned Kilkenny Castle until 1967.

An epitaph that both ticked me off and touched my heart

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Every young teen in France was at Kilkenny Castle on Tuesday.

Thursday we went to Dungarvan in Co. Waterford to visit a 12th-century castle situated there and spend the afternoon in town. Between Kilkenny, which is a great but busy and full day, and our odyssey to Dublin next week, Dungarvan is a great chance for everyone to take a breath.

Looking in through the gate of Dungarvan Castle.

Dungarvan Castle’s tower

The white building is an 18th-century military barracks.

A small street market in Dungarvan

My favorite!

Cutest little wi-fi sign I have ever seen.

The pace of life really is different here. It has taken me this long to even begin to get used to it, and I am still overclocked compared to the Irish people I work with. Don’t get me wrong: they have plenty of hustle. Plenty. But they don’t do performative busyness like Americans do, and they take more advantage than we do of social connections when doing business. I’ve never been invited to a “meeting” here, though I’ve had plenty of them. It’s just that around here a meeting is called “We’ll have a coffee.”

I’ve been here 10 days and have had approximately 600 flat whites.

Ireland 2019 arrival weekend

Finally bobbing to the surface after the open-water swim of arrival weekend! It is so exciting to welcome students here every year, but inevitably it’s a bit hectic even when everything goes as well as it can. In this case everything really did go as well as it could. The flight was on time, everyone got their luggage, and by the end of the day (Friday) we had the group successfully housed, fed, and oriented. Saturday we toured Waterford and Tramore in much better weather than the students had arrived in, thank goodness!

Reginald’s Tower in Waterford city centre near the river

Students learning about the Charter Roll in the Medieval Museum

The Medieval Museum holds the only set of pre-Reformation cloth of gold vestments in Europe.

Some of these vestments weigh so much that putting them on takes two helpers.

Students listening to Jack Burchell’s tour outside Waterford Crystal

Inside Christchurch Cathedral

Acting out the marriage of Strongbow and Aoife, which took place in Waterford in 1170 and began the long history of Anglo-Irish relations.

Students at Tramore. It was a tad windy!

By the end of Saturday we were all ready for a rest. The dorms were quiet until early afternoon Sunday, especially because it poured rain intermittently through the day! Today, classes started and we are all getting into the groove. Fingers crossed that the sunshine sticks around for our visit to Kilkenny tomorrow.


Ireland, I am in you.

The thing about going from Macon, Georgia to Waterford, Ireland is that even when everything goes perfectly, it just takes a while. I left home at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time yesterday (Monday) and got to Waterford at 4:00 p.m. Irish time today (Tuesday). That’s about 20 hours door to door if my math is right. Groome shuttle to the Atlanta airport, Delta flight from Atlanta to Dublin, bus from Dublin airport to Heuston train station, train from Dublin to Waterford, taxi to Waterford Institute of Technology. Planes, trains, and  automobiles, check check check.

So it’s been a long odyssey but it all went very smoothly with minimal stress. Now I am in my room at WIT having made it to within 20 minutes of my “first night in Europe” assigned bedtime. (The rule is: NO NAPS.) I’m going to sleep very well tonight.

Just a few pictures from my journey. You will notice that I’m not actually in any of them, because “transatlantic flight” and “photo ready” are mutually exclusive.

Lucky shot on my way to my gate last night.

My ride to Dublin: Boeing 767-400.

Crossing Dublin on a gorgeous day.

Countryside scenery from the train.

Hello again, WIT!

Dorm Sweet Dorm

More and better blog content when students arrive Friday, if not sooner.

Ireland 2019: Packing time!

I’ll be traveling to Ireland tomorrow night to kick off this year’s European Council study abroad program there–students arrive June 14–so today is packing day! This year is my third on the program so I almost have the packing down to a routine, but of course every year is a little different. Signficant example: last summer was unusually warm (highs in the low 80s Fahrenheit) whereas temperatures this coming week are much more typically Irish (highs in the 60s). It looks like my program director persona “Dr. Laura Trenchcoat” will be at large in the Republic once again. I’m also taking along a few more books than usual since I have to write some syllabi this summer. No worries about coming in under the limit (50 pounds) but this year may not see a personal record for packing light. Here’s what I’ve got:

Suitcase and carry-on. Suitcase is 26″ x 19″ x 8″ and weighs about 6 lbs. empty. Backpack is . . . the size of a backpack?

Cross-body bag for daily carry once I get there.

Pants, long-sleeve shirts, and sweaters. I may have a little problem with stripes.

T-shirts, my WIT Vikings pullover, and the pencil skirt and leggings I plan to wear on the plane.

Exercise clothes and my travel yoga mat, which successfully passed the “But will I use it?” test last year.


Important odds and ends: washcloths (never provided in Europe), plug adapters (can’t have too many), mini tripod (handy), luggage scale and corkscrew (ways to make myself indispensable)

Carry-on toiletries–trying to keep it minimal but I’ll probably stick a mascara and lip gloss in there in the morning.

Electronics–this time it’s my phone that isn’t pictured because I was using it to take the pictures!

All you REALLY need is your passport and credit card. And BuJo. And €13 in change. And Duke.

Copies of my passport and credit cards ride in the suitcase to make replacement easier if anything gets lost.

Everything in except toiletries and my trench coat. As always, socks, underwear, and PJs are not pictured.

The research questions embedded in this year’s packing are:

  • I’m adding a Bluetooth speaker this year because I wish I had one every year. Will it pass the “But will I use it?” test?
  • I am not taking my “real” camera because I suspect it’s starting to die. Can I take 5 weeks’ worth of attractive and interesting pictures with an iPhone 6S? Here’s hoping.
  • Have I brought enough warm clothes? Probably.
  • And will I regret taking only sneakers? Proximate cause to buy shoes in Ireland, so no.

Shuttle to the airport at 5:00 tomorrow afternoon. Flight at 9:45, arriving in Dublin at 10:35 Tuesday morning. I’m excited!