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JUNE 20, 2023

* Hello this is Brenna from ODEC. We have had a pretty exciting first day at Clonmacnoise in Offery County, Ireland.  While there we learned about the monastery's rich history and the importance it played in helping to spread Christianity  to Ireland. Established by St. Cieran in the 6th century. There we were able to see some of the oldest and most important high crosses in Ireland. When we were driving up to the site my eyes immediately went to the graveyard. It was so incredible, the amount of craftsmanship that went into building this settlement was amazing. Walking around and being able to see the remaining buildings and crosses were a reminder of how much these monks dedicated their lives to Christ and how powerful their faith was. 

*Hello this is Kell from ODEC. I survived the 7-hour flight to Ireland!  

* And from Fr. Bob -- the youth cooked supper last night and it was terrific! We are all happy, healthy and enjoying the Emerald Isle!


JUNE 20, 2023

Climbing the Mountain of God

This is Thomas Bibeau from Eastern Shore Chapel and Day 3 was easily the best so far. This obviously doesn't mean a lot considering the past two days were dominated by plane rides and long trips on the bus. We awoke at around 8am and ate a light breakfast, then it was on to Coragh Patrick. Before I knew it we were at the base of the biggest mountain I have ever seen. It towered over everything around and I instantly understood why Saint Patrick set his eyes on this one for his climb. The gravel roads wrapped around the rolling green hills up to the peak which seemed impossibly steep. Sheep were scattered about the base along with some white horses. No matter how hard I tried I simply couldn't picture myself making it up. Without hesitation however, Riley, Ryder, Jack, and I set off with a spry pace up the first part of the hike. It was the most challenging hike I've ever been on, making anything I had done in Shenandoah seem tiny. We pushed as hard as we could and as a group we took the peak before anybody else. I first felt god on this hike when we reached the top. I felt refreshed immediately, the second I stepped onto level ground. I felt him again when I saw the view of the blue bay and the Atlantic, I marveled at the nature he had created for a while before we headed back down. Finally, I really felt God in the interactions I had with my group walking up, and talking to random hikers from all over the world who we passed on the way down. Also, I tried drinking water from a river so we'll see how that settles. 

Hey guys this is Ryder Thum typing from Ireland. I go to All Saints Episcopal church and I have to say that this is the most fun I have ever had away from home. Though we did stay awake for more than 24 hours it felt like nothing, at least it felt like nothing once we went to sleep. When we woke up for the third day in Ireland we ate breakfast and then headed straight to Croagh Patrick. I got to say, walking up 2506 feet into the air first thing in the mourning was hard at first but like everything else it gets easier as you go. It felt like it got progressively harder, I mean my legs were burning and churning and they still hurt a little bit as I am typing right now. In Ireland all of the strangers are really nice to talk to, and it is nice to see the how diverse the hikers were. When we climbed up we talked to people from England, the U.S., Ireland, and more. What was also cool was the fact that for the most part of the hike was on private farm land, so there were lots of sheep. Where the sheep were walking was grassy, but where we were walking it was rocky. Father Bob told us to be careful because he said once he slipped on the rocks and set him back. I will be honest we did slip up a couple of times, but nothing we could not recover from. It felt like it did not take long but in our heads we know it took hours. We eventually made it to the top. Thomas was the first one to the top, Davis was the second, and I was the third to the top. It was funny to see a few old ladies acting like it was just another walk for them as we are panting. The view was breath taking, even if you are out of breath. You could see the Clew Bay and the Atlantic Ocean at the same time. I did not count them but you could see the majority of the 364 islands in the Clew Bay. After hanging out at the top for a while Thomas, Davis, Jack, and I started our descent back to the start. On our way down we ran out of water so we were thinking about drinking the running water right next to the trail. One guy that was walking told us that it was more than safe to drink. We did not know if he was messing with us, but regardless we drank it. None of us have dysentery, so if it is not brown you can drink it. We got down and Father Bob was nice enough to buy some of us ice cream. We got down just in time before it started raining. Some other people were not as lucky though. As we were waiting for some people we had a nice discussion with the bus driver about England and Ireland. Then we went back to the Hostel hit the town for some food and for fun. Now we are getting ready to eat, say prayer, go to sleep, and get ready for a three hour drive to our next destination in Ireland.

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