Aug. 14, 2008
Editor’s note: During the Notre Dame men’s basketball team’s 12-day, four-city foreign tour of Ireland, senior guard Kyle McAlarney will file a daily diary after talking by phone with the South Bend Tribune’s Tom Noie. Following are McAlarney’s thoughts on day 2 of the trip.
LIMERICK, Ireland — Basketball has been my whole life, so for us not to get in the gym at least once a day, I feel like we’re cheating ourselves.
When I woke up (Thursday) morning and found out that we weren’t going to practice, I was kind of disheartened. But when you can go to Ireland and get a taste of the culture and where your ancestors are and have a day like we had (Thursday), I’m OK with it.
This day has been long, but it has been so unbelievable. There was so much cool stuff we got to do. It’s been amazing.
We went to the Cliffs of Moher, which have these unbelievable views of the Atlantic Ocean. It was awesome. We were able to crawl out to the edge and look out. I don’t even know how far up we were, but if you fell off, you were a goner.
I had a little disposable camera and took all 27 pictures on it. Some guys who had digital cameras took at least 50. There were some pretty amazing views. Everyone went right to the edge to get the best picture. I didn’t see anyone standing in the shadows. You just had to do it.
After a while, I just stood there by myself and soaked in the view and took it all in. The view was perfect. The weather was perfect. It was sunny and beautiful. It was a perfect day.
I’ve never been out of the country, so to be able to experience that, it makes you appreciate all the other things you have in life and to be happy with where you are.
We went to lunch and got the best fish and chips ever. The place was called Joseph McHugh’s and it’s a pretty famous place. It was by this small town and really cool. There was a pub like every two blocks.
After lunch, we went on a tour of Bunratty Castle. A lot of the guys were so tired after the tour that they just sat down and played cards in the castle, but I wanted to go explore. I just went off by myself.
There were all these signs in the castle and around the little village that said “Do Not Enter” and “No Trespassing” but I wanted to experience everything. I’d hop a fence or go where I wasn’t supposed just to get a picture that no one else will have.
There was one spot in the castle where the top level was closed, but I just kind of climbed up there. It was blocked off, but it was a cool little room. I could have fallen from the top and no one would have ever found me. Every door I saw I was trying to open thinking, ‘This is where my ancestors came from.’
I haven’t seen anyone wearing No. 23 Irish jerseys, but I have seen a lot of guys wearing rugby jerseys. I don’t think any of us could play rugby, except maybe Luke (Harangody).
There were a few Americans at the castle. They recognized that we were from Notre Dame after they saw our gear. We gave them a shout out and they asked us about some of the Irish football players they know, but we didn’t know who they were talking about.
We went to a medieval banquet for dinner, which was an Irish festival. A lot of the guys had Irish stew, which was lamb stew. They said it was cool, but I had salmon. One of the guys in charge of the dinner called up Tom Kopko and Tyrone Nash to do a little dance for everyone. That was pretty hilarious. They can’t dance as well as they can play basketball.
I’ve been so wrapped up in what we’re doing that I haven’t even thought about that we play (this afternoon). Usually I’m thinking about a game for two or three days. We’ve got a shoot-around (today) and we’ll be prepared.
I’m expecting it to be a very physical game, but I don’t know much about who we’re playing (Ireland’s national team). I know Donnie McGrath’s on the team, and I played against him when he was at Providence. We can’t play like we’re on vacation.
Right now, we’re on the bus going back to the hotel. They’re calling me up to the front to sing “Piano Man.” I’ll probably do it. I love Billy Joel.
Love you too, mom.