Ireland Part 1: The West

Early last year I got a weird notification on my phone: "FeerickFamilyReunion2013 is now following you on Twitter." After a couple months thinking that this was just incredibly creative spam, I found out from my parents that a massive Feerick Family reunion was going to be occurring in Ireland in the coming September. I was lucky enough with my change in jobs and the timing of the trip that I would be able to attend with my parents--as well as my cousin, aunt, and step-uncle. After 16 hours of travel and plane flights, we landed in Dublin on a Wednesday afternoon and began our drive westward across Ireland to Westport, a small town where the reunion was being held. The town our family hales from, Ballinrobe, in County Mayo, was about 20 minutes away, but Westport was the nearest town that was big enough to accommodate so many people comfortably.

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The reunion was scheduled to take place from Friday evening till Sunday morning, so we had time to explore the area for a few days beforehand.  I don't think my family has ever truly taken a "relaxing", if you will, vacation. Bright and early Thursday morning, we all piled back in our rental car (a tiny "van", which was a glorified sedan with a third row of seats), and headed to Croagh Patrick, the third tallest mountain in Ireland.

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My old man

Croagh Patrick is the mountain from which St. Patrick (a Catholic Saint) banished all the snakes from Ireland, chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a forty-day fast he was completing during Lent on top of the mountain. The mountain climbs to a height of over 2,100 ft. over a hiking distance of around 4.5 miles.  I was under the impression this was going to be a little hike up a paved path. Turns out it was a treacherously steep climb over rocks and streams, with a final climb over steep, jagged, unstable rocks to the top. The higher we climbed, the colder and windier it got and my cousin and I, two very fit people, mind you, were drenched in sweat by the time we got the top

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At the top of the peak was a spectacular white stone church. I don't know how it was built (I could probably google it), but it must have been incredibly difficult to do. The wind was so strong at the top that we had to keep walking into it so as not to be blown over.


Cold and sweaty, but we made it!

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As my cousin and I had forged ahead, on the way back down we passed my parents--my dad beaming from ear to ear, loving every minute of it (as he did every moment in Ireland) and my poor mom cursing that she couldn't take another step... yet she kept going and completed the trek! That was probably one of the funniest moments from the trip. Back at the bottom of the mountain, we rejoined with my aunt and uncle, who made in about 400 yards into the trek, realized there was a pub at the base of the climb, and made the smart decision to drink Guinness until the adventurers returned. We collectively agreed that this was the hardest hike any of had ever been on.

Lest we take a day to rest (or just not do strenuous physical activity), Friday's agenda called for a 50km bike ride through the Irish countryside. We picked up our bikes at a shop in town, then were driven miles away and were abandoned dropped off at the start of the Greenway, a path for walkers and bikes that goes along the Western coast of the country.

Picking up our bikes

While these weren't quite the bikes I'm used to riding, they were still fun to ride! They were just your basic hybrid road bike... sort of like a little bit nicer than the bike you probably had when you were 14. They countryside was gorgeous, but the ride itself took quite awhile given the bikes and the terrain, so the pub we stopped at for lunch (and Guinness, obviously) 3/4 of the way through the ride, was a welcome sight!

Sheep... they're everywhere

They see me rollin, they hatin...

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Fuel Station

That evening sparked the beginning of the true reunion. So far we'd just been doing our own thing, but this evening there was a reception and meet & greet, plus a welcome from some notable figures. Among those who spoke were some key Feerick's who were responsible for organizing everything, as well as the Mayor of Westport and the Governor of Tourism (or something to that effect) for all of Ireland. His speech was lost on me however, as I was more focused on the Mayor and saving him from being bored to death by old (like literally aged) Feerick family members.  He was a young guy himself, and while he enjoyed being mayor, his true passion was photography and he was regarded as one of the best in town.

That being said however, he donned the most baller gold chain I'd ever seen. On it was an engraved the name of each mayor who preceded him in Westport. So, naturally, I managed to talk him into letting me wear it (granted, I have kissed the Blarney Stone which bestows one with Blarney, which is defined: "Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit")

A random younger Feerick joined the picutre



That concludes the first part of the trip! Coming up next is the Reunion itself (I promise I'll skip any boring parts--there's actually a pretty cool story!) That will be followed by our trip to Galway and closing out in Dublin!

Updates as a Preface

It's been 4 months since I last blogged, and that's not for a lack of things to blog about, as I've certainly been busy.  I actually just got back from a 10-day trip to Ireland where my parents and I went over for a huge Feerick family reunion in our families hometown of Ballinrobe, in county Mayo, on Ireland's western coast. I saw, learned, and did so much when I was over there that I really want to share the experience and am going to break it up into 3 posts--one for each leg of the trip. But before I get into those posts (and because I'm waiting for everyone from our party to send me their pictures...), I wanted to give a quick update on everything that's been going on since I arrived here in San Diego!

I've just passed four months here and am keeping busy with my new jobs. In addition to the job which I moved out here for, I've also gotten back into Personal Training and am working for 24-Hour Fitness at one of the companies biggest and busiest gyms in the country. I am loving being back in the training game and as well as helping others, I'm learning a ton about my own training and have made a lot of adjustments to my programming and goals. With most of my racing done for the year, I'm trying to really put on some muscle and size because... well, why not?



In the last week of July, my dad, brother, and Godfather (Dad's best friend) took a trip to the Grand Canyon! It was a crazy trip--I thought it was going to be hot desert the whole time, but I was sorely mistaken.  We went to the North rim, which is the north side of the Canyon and sits at about 8,700 feet high. It was cold and we got a daily monsoon, along with a pop-up camper that didn't have any power or water working... but it was a blast hanging out with the guys. My brother wasn't going to come but was able to at the last minute, and that reallllly saved me!  Here are some pictures from the trip:

More of the Canyon

The canyon


Keeping fit with my little bro



Point sublime

Red Rock Canyon

Chillin at camp

Billy-goating (scrambling up rocks)

The camping squad

The last night, we came back early (not at all because I was frozen...) and Stewart (my brother) and I had an awesome time out in Las Vegas

A few weeks later, I did a local olympic distance triathlon with one of my Wattie Ink teammates, James Adams. The race was fun and was all through the grounds of the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center which actually made it a lot more entertaining.  I have a solid race--decent swim, solid bike, and fastest run in my age group, which I'll take being that I hadn't been running much.  After this race, I cut my cardio down just a little bit and have really amped up the strength training.

I also finally got the new tattoo I've been planning for over a year now. This will be my last! A quote my dad has always told me when I am having a hard time is "Anxiety is merely another form of atheism."  I had this translated into Latin and behind the lettering I drew a rose with 5 thorns.  The rose is a family name, Rosemary for my grandma who passed last year, and Rose after my younger sister's middle name. The 5 thorns represent the 5 members of my family.

Down my left ribcage and side

This was right after the tattoo was finished so the skin was still inflamed... but now I'm thinking about shading some red on the rose just like it looks here...

Later in August, I was back in Vegas for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships with over 40 of my Wattie Ink Teammates!  I wasn't racing, just hanging out and cheering for everyone. Our pro athletes in the race did really well! Heather Jackson took second overall and Joe Gambles took third.  It was an amazing weekend hanging out with everyone. The best part was going on a ride with my godfather (who I stayed with) the day before the race. We had been planning to ride together for a while, but this trip we finally got the chance to bike through the hills of Las Vegas together!

Me and teammate Jake Steen

Heather Jackson taking second place


Lastly, I went to a Lil Wayne concert, featuring 2 Chainz, and T.I! T.I. has been my favorite rapper since way back in the day before he was mainstream and this was my first time to get to see him. It was a really fun concert and Lil Wayne puts on a wild performance!


And that brings us to now--or right before the Ireland trip.  I'll post about it as soon as I have all the pictures I want!

Anyone else been to Ireland? If so, what part?