I was finally able to see Brendan in Dublin over the weekend. My sister-in-law (and Brendan’s godmother), Eileen, graciously agreed to accompany me so we could see how he is doing and what life is like so far for this international college student.
On our way!
When Brendan came over initially, Steve went with him and saying goodbye at the airport was incredibly heart wrenching for me. Just knowing how far away he was going, how many challenges he had ahead, and that I would not really know his day to day in any way close to what I have known for the past 18+ years, was hard to conceive of and scary.
Thanks to modern technology, we have had regular contact with Bear since he arrived in Ireland in the beginning of August. He was there early to get accustomed to things, start rugby practice and settle in a bit before school started. We are grateful he was able to do that as he has met some wonderful people, spent time with his dad (only a few days) and Granddad (stayed on an extra week) and met some friends of friends, the Gaffneys who have basically adopted him as their own. He also was able to visit our very close friends, the Ring’s, who are there for the year in Killarney. Of course even with arriving early, some things still are not settled (immigration, school financial details…). The Irish definitely are on a different schedule than we are!
We arrived earlier than expected – 11pm as opposed to 11:45pm. We caught a taxi to our Air B&B (the owner called that morning saying our room was no longer available and he just had a room with a double bed – we reluctantly took that and he reduced the price for us) and upon arriving entered a room that was pretty small. The sink in the bathroom looked like the little dentist’s sink that you spit into when they are cleaning your teeth, the shower had NO hot water (eek!) and there was no toilet paper!. I mean really – none? at midnight? Thankfully Eileen had tissues to get us by, the room was clean and warm and the bed felt fine for the 2 of us to share.
Our first cafe – there are SO many in Dublin but there are also lots of people to support them all
We met Brendan at lunchtime on Thursday – I cannot express how great it felt to see him. He is my most affectionate boy and big hugs were an absolute! So I will tell the tale of the visit through photos and then recap my emotional journey while there.
Oh so happy to see my second born 🙂
Exploring Trinity’s campus
The library is incredible and Harry Potter library was based off of this one…The Book of Kells was not available to view that day but still amazing to see everything this inspiring library full of history
St Stephen’s Green is beautiful and just down the road from Trinity…lunch at a local Pub
With a little time before his next class, we squeezed in Bear’s first Irish haircut. Not quite like the boyz India cuts (amazing and only 50 cents each!) but still good!
Aunt Eileen (GeeGee to her littles) found the Disney store – uh oh!..Bear enjoys some dessert to fuel up before a long wet walk home Thursday night
Friday was the best day by far….a little windy and very short sprinkles and then just cloudy and chilly but we were warm enough to be outside for extended time in our coats. Brendan seemed happy..we had more time together than we had planned (his class was out early and he unfortunately got a concussion last weekend so could not practice Friday night – not good but a bonus for us with time together and he is really fine they are just being extra cautious.) He was relaxed, enjoyed all of the things we did, ate well and said how much he loves doing things like walking on Grafton St, watching street performers, exploring… He much prefers that speed to the party/club scene.
We started the day meeting Brendan’s rugby coach for coffee at ‘The Honey Truffle’ (how cute is that name?!)
Coach Smeeth is truly amazing – so generous with his time, kind, encouraging. It is such a comfort knowing he is there looking after Brendan. Kay is his office manager and is equally friendly and helpful. He treated us to coffee and bought Bear a sausage breakfast sandwich which he insists they need to start making in the States. (like a croissant with sausage in it). We loved the “Honey Truffle’ so much we returned there meeting Brendan for lunch – unbelievable salads with grains, sweet potatoes, beans…right up my alley!
We did lots of walking while Brendan was in class and then met up with him after class for the rest of the afternoon/evening…
Some sights in Dublin
Grafton St is one of those streets with no cars, lots of shops/eateries and street performers
Went to exhibition on Irish Famine – powerful. And this article speaks of missing people who had family in Troy, NY looking for them. Made it even more real
Walked through St Stephen’s Green again
Eileen’s maiden name is Murphy so when we saw this across from our dinner restaurant (Cornicopia – delicious!), we knew it was a must! What different flavors they had! The mix of chocolate and raspberry sorbet on a waffle cone was phenomenal! Dingle Sea Salt is their most popular
Street performers were amazing
We rounded out the night with a obligatory visit to O’Neill’s Pub for a Guinness. Neither Eileen nor I drink beer so a sip was all we needed and Bear finished it for us (he is legal there!)
My favorite was that they sold hot drinks everywhere – including the Pub!
Saturday was a little more difficult. Brendan was tired and congested and I am now recognizing the ‘Sunday feeling’ like Seamus had on our 2 visits to him. The energy and excitement of the visit is coming to an end. Also we went shopping for things he needed for his room and for food- but it was busy and chaotic which is stressful for all of us but particularly Bear who is not a fan of big crowds. We were successful in our purchases though and went back to his suite to clean, cook and eat.
We took a tour of Aviva Stadium where the Irish National Rugby and Soccer teams play..Brendan loves it!
A display of some American teams that have played there….Notre Dame and you guessed it…Navy and Boston College!
Some sights as we walked through Dublin
The toy store…and …do you notice a theme here with alcohol????
We ended the day going back to Brendan’s suite to put all of his things away, clean a bit and cook up some food for him….But first – some kitchen cleaning was in order!
Six 18 yr old college guys makes for a messy kitchen space…before and after
Aunt Eileen relaxes after cleaning…this is in the main room of his suite where the kitchen and dining are – very pretty with nice views.
Bedroom and bathroom cleaner and more organized 🙂
Saying goodbye was painful and sad. The only way I was able to is because I knew I would see him in another couple of weeks (Steve and I planned a trip for what we hope is rugby parents weekend which we had not known about when I planned this current trip). I cannot even imagine how I will say goodbye after that one since it will be Christmas before I see him again. Despite the fact that he is 18 and full grown, I think our kids always feel like our children – we can see them as they were as little guys so easily and adjusting to not seeing them every day, not hugging them, not knowing what they are experiencing – is a tremendous adjustment.
I worry about all that he has taken on. He absolutely has what it takes to make this work though and I know that. Eileen kept reminding me ‘he is doing great….I cannot believe how well he can navigate that city after only 1 month…his coach is looking out for him and would let you know if anything seriously wrong’. I am happy for Brendan to be having this international experience that is providing him with ample opportunities to grow emotionally, academically, athletically, and interpersonally. I am choosing to focus on that and am absolutely feeding the love by doing so.