Slowing Down in Sligo and an Overview

Hi. It’s been a hot minute since I posted a thing, but that’s because we’ve had a very restful and reflective few days.

We left London on the 16th, and I was ready to leave by that point. I was a bit fed up with the noise and chaos and constant attachment to my companions. We flew to Dublin and then took a three hour Coach to Sligo.

Sligo is the most magical town I’ve been in so far! We’re actually staying just outside Sligo in Mullaghmore, at a retreat center called Star of the Sea. It’s been a very restful period in a new way.

On the first day we went horseback riding and also found a barn kitty named Pixie.

She was incredibly affectionate and followed us around begging for attention. The horses were all amazing. We rode along the beach and just took in the views

We had one day to fully immerse ourselves in the land of Yeats. We saw St. Columba’s church where he is buried, took a boat ride on the Lake Isle of Innisfree and stopped at Glencar Waterfall. This day remains one of my favorite on the entire trip, a perfect day to soak up the restorative quiet of nature and honor a poet who stood at the intersection of many styles and themes. Aside from that, we honestly haven’t done much here. This week has been about having the independent time and space to do what refills our unique souls. It has been amazing.

( saw this tree at Glencar and the first thing I thought of was “the receiving woman”. I’m not sure why that particular tree spoke to me, but it was a wonderful blessing).

One of the best parts of this trip has been losing the rigidity of time. I’ve always said that hours, minutes, and seconds are human constructions and unnecessary to live our lives. This trip has given me a chance to ignore the passing of time, and that allows me to live at a slower relaxed pace.

We had some downtime earlier in the trip, but it definitely wasn’t the same. Our week in Lindisfarne was early enough in the trip that we were still getting to know each other and basking in the novelty of it all. Our week in Coniston was interesting-when we weren’t visiting the homes of classic authors, we were all crammed in the same house, many in the same room. There was bad weather the entire week, some of us were sick, and it was generally not the best. Sligo is nothing like that. Our Star of the Sea retreat and conference center is large enough that we each get our own room, and the beach and nearby village provide enough entertainment to satisfy us.

It’s been interesting to see how the dynamics of our group have changed since we left home. I listened to a podcast that talked about being in proximity versus being in community, and that’s where I feel our group is right now. At first this thought annoyed me-I assumed we would be closer at this point in the trip. But one of my friends pointed out that we still have two full months in Europe, and some of my companions may be “pacing themselves” to avoid intense connection and burnout. This makes sense to me. A lot of people on this trip have prior relationships, and it’s wonderful that these friendships get to deepen and evolve. It’s also awesome to get to meet new people and just be silly college kids together.

If I give the impression that this trip has been all sunshine and roses, it’s not. At least once a week I have dissolved into a puddle of tears, for myriad reasons. I’m going through a lot of self discovery and confronting a lot of old unhealthy habits. Being in close quarters so far from home, along with moving every week, is pretty stressful. Some of us have gotten sick. Some of us have gotten into conflict. It’s challenging at times, but the amazing adventures we’re on make it all worth it.

About a year ago I got accepted into this study abroad program, and I spent the time planning superfluous details and imagining what the trip would be like. Suffice it to say this trip is more than I could have ever imagined, in all areas. I lay on a porch in Ireland, listening to the trill of the birds and the roar of the waves, and reflected on the last month. We’ve received incredible hospitality from perfect strangers. We’ve seen and experienced things many people never even come close to. It’s been an amazing month of exploration and discovery, both internally and externally. Our next stop is Dublin, a packed week of adventure. Stay tuned!

Bon Voyage 🇮🇪 E


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