A Country Made of Stone

By Maria Lawrence

Editor’s Note: Maria Lawrence, a 2011 graduate of Dunmore High School, is the daughter of Albert and Patrice Lawrence. She is currently studying English literature at Marywood College.

During the weeks before my class trip, I spent the days imagining what Ireland would be like. In my mind I pictured green pastures filled with grazing sheep and charming villages lined with pubs. As I entered the country my dreams became a reality. I drove down winding roads past luscious fields, sat on creaking barstools drinking whiskey, and frivolously spent my money in souvenir shops. But what caught my attention the most, something absent from my fantasies, were all of the stones. Of course, there are stones covering every pathway from San Francisco to Beijing, but there is something special about the ones in Ireland.

The Burren

The Burren

The Burren is one of the stony attractions in Ireland, formed by glaciers millions of years ago.

I was still quite jetlagged as I stumbled off the bus and headed towards The Burren. Batt Burns, our tour guide, warned us about walking on the stones. “Careful not to fall in a crack and twist your ankle!” he shouted. The region we were in consisted of limestone slabs, formed by glaciers millions of years ago, that lead out to the sea. An ice age carried a rare mixture of Alpine, Arctic, and Mediterranean plants that now grow inside the cracks of each slab. This place was a limestone jungle just waiting to be explored.  

As I approached the area I was blown away, both by its beauty and by the strong winds. I hopped from stone to stone like a child, imagining the crevices were filled with hot lava, praying that the combination of wind and jetlag wouldn’t lead to my first international injury. I crouched down, peeked into the cracks, and couldn’t believe what I had discovered; incredible green plants flourished amongst the stones.   

The Blarney Stone

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is a popular tourist destination in Ireland. Lawrence visited there and kissed the Blarney Stone. (Photo by Sally Jellock)

I crept up the stairs of a spiral stairwell inside the Blarney Castle. The passageway was tight and my feet could barely fit on the steps. I grasped onto the railing, sweating and apologizing to the people behind me for walking so slowly. I was on my way to kiss one of the most famous stones in the world. It is said that if you do this you will be granted the gift of eloquence. When I finally reached the top of the castle my anxiety lingered still. I hadn’t realized the stone was suspended in the air and I would have to hang from a parapet to reach it.

“Don’t worry,” my friend Nolan said, “A man is there to hold you.” I stared at this man, filled with skepticism. After all, he is just a human being. My panic grew as the line inched closer to the stone, but there was no turning back. I hadn’t climbed those dreadful stairs for nothing. It was my turn now so I set down my backpack, removed my glasses, sat on the edge of the parapet, and focused my attention on the man. He smiled as he looked into my eyes, wrapped his arms around me and said, “Scooch back, dear.” His demeanor instantly soothed my nerves. I leaned backwards and held onto the metal railings while he guided my body until my lips touched the stone. The rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking of the hundreds of people he meets each day. I decided that the Blarney Stone’s true purpose is to bring people together to trust one another. It is the way Ireland opens its arms to the world.

Staigue Fort

Staigue Fort-2

Staigue Fort is composed of layer upon layer of stones without mortar or nails. (Photo by Sally Jellock)

I crouched through the skinny entrance and gazed at the thousands of stones that made up the entirety of Staigue Fort. No mortar, no wood, and no nails. This structure was simply layer upon layer of stones. I climbed the stairs embedded into the side of the fort and peered over the wall. I could see for miles in every direction; rolling hills smothered in shrubs and sheep, and waves crashing onto the beach.  

Batt told us a myth that if you go near it after midnight you will hear the Wee Folk, who are fairies, dancing and singing inside. You’ll be lured in by their festivities, but once you join them you can never leave. Who built the fort is a mystery, along with when and why, but there are many theories. Most people, including me, believe it was constructed for defense. The question I pondered as I sat on its ledge was whether the Irish made the fort to keep intruders out or the Wee Folk to hold trespassers in?   

Derrynane Beach

One afternoon a small group of us decided to go horseback riding on Derrynane Beach. I waited impatiently on the gravel driveway outside the stable as Caroline and Wendy, the instructors, helped the others onto their horses. I had never ridden a horse before and I was beginning to feel uneasy about my decision to do so.

While I paced back and forth, the instructor’s dog ran up to me and started barking. I stopped moving but he continued to bark. He was fixated on my feet. I tried petting him, ignoring him, and talking to him, but no matter what I did he just would not stop barking.

From atop her horse my friend Kaitlyn laughed, “He really doesn’t like your boots!” My feet did look like they belonged to some sort of bog creature in my green clunky boots. Eventually Wendy noticed what was going on and yelled, “Oh, pay no attention to him! He just wants you to kick the stones.” I couldn’t fathom what that meant but it was time for me to mount my horse so I stopped thinking about it. I grabbed onto the saddle, put my left foot in the stirrups and swung my right leg around the horse.

I clenched onto the reins listening to the instructions when I was suddenly distracted by the dog. He had made up a game for himself and was flinging stones into the air with his snout. I smiled and thought, “Wow, even the dogs in Ireland have found a purpose for all of these stones.”

 

Korgeski earns King’s outdoor track and field MAC weekly honor

Jill Korgeski pic

King’s College freshman Jill Korgeski was named the Middle Atlantic Conference women’s outdoor track and field “Field Athlete of the Week” the conference office announced on Monday. Korgeski earns King’s first-ever conference outdoor track and field honors in the program’s inaugural season.

Korgeski, who was named the indoor track and field “Field Athlete of the Week” three times, won the shot put at the All-American Invitational at East Stroudsburg on Saturday with a meet record throw of 13.47 meters. Her mark currently is the best in the conference and region this season and ranked 11th in the nation. On Saturday her throw was better than the 50 other Division II, Division III, Community College, and Unattached athletes competing at the Invitational.

Korgeski will look to improve her mark when King’s competes in the MAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Alvernia University from May 5 to 7.

Dunmore Grad Takes the Cake with New Business

By Emily Fedor

Kallista Pluciennik started her own baking business, Lola's Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

Kallista Pluciennik started her own baking business, Lola’s Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

Kallista Pluciennik, a Dunmore High School alumna of the class of 2013, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America this past July with a degree in baking and pastry arts. And within a month of her graduation, she opened her own business: Lola’s Dessert Shop.

Currently a one-woman-show, Pluciennik is selling macarons, speciality cakes, cookies and more delicious desserts to Dunmore and beyond right out of her own home. Lola’s Dessert Shop, which is mainly operated through an online Etsy store, is sweet showcase for Pluciennik’s baking talents.

Online editor Emily Fedor caught up with the rising pastry chef (and guiltily interrupted her mid-baking) to talk about the process of opening her own business, recipe and design inspirations and, of course, her favorite sugary sweets.

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Emily Fedor: How did you first get interested in baking?

Kallista Pluciennik: When I was little I would bake with my grandma, but I never really thought of that as a profession until high school. I didn’t really get into it until I started doing the bake sales and stuff. That’s when I figured out that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

EF: And when did you realize you wanted to open your own business?

Custom cupcakes by Lola's Dessert Shop.

Custom cupcakes by Lola’s Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

KP: I was planning it while I was at school because I know around here there aren’t many jobs for what I can do. So I was looking for actual jobs maybe just to make some money. Then my plan was to move away, but then I figured why not just start my own business?

EF: Where did the shop name come from?

KP: My grandma’s name was Dolores and everyone called her Lola. So that’s why I named it Lola.

EF: What did the process of getting Lola’s off the ground entail?

KP: I did have to get my shop name approved by the state, but I did that awhile back so I could have the name. Then I got my kitchen regulated…by the Department of Agriculture so I am allowed to bake out of my house. They come, I think once a year, and they inspect your kitchen just to make sure that everything’s up to where it’s supposed to be. You pay a small fee and that’s it.

EF: And how’s the response been so far?

KP: It’s been awesome. I just love how the community is helping. A lot of people are supporting small businesses nowadays. So there was definitely a lot of support there. I’ve gotten so many views on my Etsy site, like almost 1,000 already, and I’ve gotten at least 20 orders. So to start, I think that’s really good.

EF: How have you been getting the word out there?

KP: Social media is definitely helping. I do have a Facebook account for it. I have an Instagram and my Etsy site. And then also I’m starting to do farmers’ markets where you have your own little stand.

EF: Where do you get the recipes and ideas for the baked goods you make?

Custom macarons by Lola's Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

Custom macarons by Lola’s Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

KP: I use a lot of the recipes that we had from school, but I’ve adapted those to what works for me. I also get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest. There are a lot of bake shops in Australia that have some really cool ideas so I’ve been taking some from them.

EF: What’s your favorite pastry to make?

KP: Macarons. They’re really difficult to make so I feel like the fact that I’m able to make them is sort of a skill. And they’re really versatile. You can make them in any flavor, color, shape. You could do anything with them. You can even make a cake out of them. They’re really cool.

EF: What can followers expect from Lola’s in the future?

KP: Right now we’re just saving up money to find an actual space to put it in. The courthouse square would be nice because I know there are a lot of spaces for rent there. I do have some fun macaron flavors in the making, and I want to start making my own chocolates, but it’s all in time.