July 9, 2019
“It is fascinating to me to consider that Ireland was one of the only places where Christianity was brought without the forced conversion of the Roman Empire. It is definitely ‘God’s country’ as the locals call it,” says Ryan Pearce, MDiv student who spent a year in Northern Ireland on field ed assignment at Groomsport Presbyterian Church. He shared these photographs of his Ireland experience.
This sixth century Irish church is one of many littered around the country that I have had the pleasure of exploring.
Part of the blessing of living in Northern Ireland is that the Republic of Ireland is a few short hours’ drive away. I spent a few days down in Galway exploring around the city, the surrounding area, and visiting the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs were absolutely stunning. I see why “Harry Potter, The Princess Bride,” and countless other movies have been filmed here!
I was fortunate to be able to host my immediate family for Christmas this year! This was the first time many of them have heard me preach as a minister, and I also got to introduce them to my church, my favorite spots here in Northern Ireland, and to have a blast showing them around.
Made famous by “Game of Thrones,” Giant’s Causeway is a Northern Ireland treasure. It is composed of basalt rock formations that rise out into the sea. The local myth of their origin comes from when Irish giant Finn McCool tried to build a bridge across to Scotland to fight their giants, but tore up the bridge after realizing how much larger the Scottish giants were. It is a place of sublime beauty.
Part of the local charm here is the tradition of folk music and small local pubs. This evening, we sang “The Girl from the County Down” and listened to live “comeallye” [pronounced come-all-yah, as in “come on all of you to hear this!”] music at the pub.
Ireland is ubiquitous with sheep farming. As I train for a marathon, many of my running partners are the local sheep herds that I run past. They sometimes form up and run with me!
Groomsport is a small coast town with a long maritime history stretching back to the early 16th century, and the town itself wraps around its natural harbor that has been fortified with a concrete quay. One of my favorite head-clearing practices is to walk along its extensive coastline and pet as many dogs as I can during that time!
Though I was already a proper football fan, supporting Manchester United (the local favorite team) since I was 12, I have picked up an affinity for supporting the Ulsterman, the local rugby team. Rugby and Ireland have a long history, and Ireland is currently ranked number two in the world.