Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Achill Island, Ireland

Long story short, I'm working on a group project for my degree where we have to create a website about an illegal Irish Stonehenge replica. Yes - it is as weird as it sounds. Basically some crazy rich Irish dude (emphasis on the crazy) spent a weekend creating the replica (which is absolutely MASSIVE and completely concrete) in a remote area on an island off the coast of Western Ireland - Achill Island, to be precise. The Stonehenge clone is naturally called "Achillhenge". My group and I knew we needed to head down to Achill to film some video footage and get some good quality photographs of the damn thing, so we decided to make a weekend out of it. We're all friends and get along well so it sounded like the PERFECT thing to do, especially since we all just finished writing our Master's thesises! Thesi? What is the plural of thesis? Irrelevant - ANYWAY - we decided to hop in a couple cars with some Burger King and head down for a half-working half-drunken weekend on a remote Irish island. There were 7 of us, 5 guys (Hugh, Jeremiah, Donal, Evan, and Alan, all Irish) and 2 girls (myself and my favorite fellow San Francisco ex-pat, Jane).

My friend Hugh, a fellow group member, randomly has a vacation house out there that he let us all stay in. It was lovely, and gave us views like this -

We got in late a night, and I pretty much went straight to bed, 6 hour car journeys are strangely tiring! 

I woke up the next morning to the boys cooking a full Irish breakfast

After thoroughly devouring it and changing into some serious rain gear, we headed out to the henge! 

The black and white is to emphasize the fact of how horrid the weather was. So horrid in fact, that we only spent an hour there before retreating back to the car to escape the torrential rain. We can't get any of our recording equipment wet, and we knew the rain wouldn't let up for a long time, so we decided to just spend the rest of the day taking a tour of the island and being thoroughly lazy. 

Achill is SO beautiful, virtually untouched and very un-touristy with beautiful views of the Atlantic. 

We literally drove around the island blasting music, taking photos and being stupid. We only stopped twice - once so Jeremiah and I could try and pet some sheep (who were absolutely not happy with us invading their wide open space, as you can see in the photo below) and again to take a group picture in front of the ocean. I tried to set my camera up on a bench with a timer, and as I ran to enter the photo, I slipped in the mud and almost fell off the cliff. Simultaneously, my camera got blown away by the wind and flew into the grass. Hugh saved me and Evan saved my camera, so we are both okay! But I ended up covered in mud with no photo. Typical. 

(Creepy Achill cemetery) 

When we got back to Hugh's house, we stayed there for the rest of the night. Donal whipped up some killer spaghetti Bolognese for dinner and we spent the right of the night listening to music and getting drunk in Hugh's boat house/garage.

The next day we woke up to some gorgeous sunshine, so we quickly got ready and headed out for our day. We started at a pub so we could fill up on another Irish breakfast, which had a lovely view of the water: 

Then we headed STRAIGHT to the henge with our equipment, and we managed to get some really nice footage. The henge is located in a bog, which may sound gross but actually it's really incredible. The area surrounding it is mind blowing:  

The henge itself is really cool too. Inside of it is a zoetrope of an eye. It starts blank, and each stone slowly creates the eye. If you sit in the middle and spin, you can see it created. 

(The beginning and end points) 

(Up-close of the final result) 

Later that day we cleaned Hugh's house, stocked up on snacks and made our way back to Dublin (with a stop at McDonalds, naturally). It was such a fun weekend, exactly what I needed to unwind a bit from the hell that was my February. I think we're all hoping to go back in June when the weather is better to celebrate the end of classes and exams! 

On a random note, myself and Jeremiah run the Achillhenge Twitter account. Yes I realize how lame that sounds. So if you followed me on Twitter and you've been added by Achillhenge, you know why. And if you've been deleted by Achillhenge, it's because you weren't following us back and we have a robot that deletes our unfollowers every other week. So if you could help me out and follow @achillhengeinfo, I would be very grateful! Jeremiah and I (ok, mostly me, but he helps!) make a lot of ridiculous tweets, it's pretty entertaining. I will follow you back. Plus you would be helping me out with my project! Every follower counts! 

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