The Cliffs of Moher

30 Oct

After spending a day on Inishmore marveling at the cliffs at Dun Aengus, I had no idea how big the Cliffs of Moher were going to be. A long three-hour bus ride from Galway left me tired, hungry, and for the most part uninterested in looking at the Cliffs. After a quick lunch, and my motivation restored, four of us embarked to one of the scariest walks of my life. Generally, I do pretty well with heights, but as I scaled the thin, dirt path along the cliffs, it really sunk in how close I was teetering on the line of life and death.

As I walked further to the right of O’Briens tower, the Branaunmore Sea Stack stood out of the water, a beautiful spectacle. I was equally impressed and confused as to how such a structure could have formed. Further down the trail, there was a flat cliff of rock that people were gravitating towards. There, the drop was dramatic, a 700-foot drop, nearly straight down to the shale beach below. It was there, where I braved my newly discovered fear of heights, and laid down just close enough to the edge where I was able to stick my eyes over. As I looked over, my depth perception was off; being so high up it was hard to determine how big everything was down below. After about ten or so minutes of laying on the edge marveling at the beauty, an older gentleman walked close to us with a rock in hand, and threw it over the edge. The rock was small enough that on the way down, we lost sight of it, until seconds later the sound of it hitting the rocks below echoed up the sides of the cliffs. The time between when the rock was thrown, and when it hit the ground below really made the scale of the fall sink in.

The 700-foot high Cliffs of Moher stand as evidence of 300,000 years of nature’s power, an overwhelmingly beautiful, natural wonder. Visiting the cliffs has been the highlight of my time in Ireland so far.IMG_5144IMG_5152

-Brendan Slattery

Vistas of the Cliffs of Moher

29 Oct

“I hope that was a good sandwich.” – Maeve O’Sullivan, 2015

We were all hungry by the time we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. People were exhausted as well after hours on the bus. And many were not sure if the Cliffs of Moher could top our trip to Inishmore.

To this end, a couple of us went to the nearest café for some sustenance. Our stay at the café was extended when a friend spent more time than usual frantically searching for a vegetarian sandwich. When we got out, we saw flocks of other N.U.In kids heading our way and saying “Oh you missed the group picture.”

Nonchalantly Maeve said “I hope that was a good sandwich” as Hridayam ravenously consumed her sandwich. In short we were a bit annoyed that we missed the group picture. When we reached the edge of the cliff, we were quite literally, shocked. We were exposed to an endless view of blue and a strong gale of wind brushed on our faces. We savored the crisp weather, as we walked along the cliffs. It was then a battle of smartphones as the three of us frantically tried to outdo each other with pictures, we wanted to capture the view not just for the views on our Instagram or snapchat, but to keep a memory of an incredible experience alive.

I had lost track of my friends when I realized I wandered off the beaten path. The railings that kept visitors safe was no longer in sight. But the feeling of being on the edge of a cliff and walking along it was just a feeling I had to explore. The view was even more spectacular with no railing to hold me back. I lost myself in thought as I looked upon the clear blue skies, meeting the embrace of warm blue sea. The view was so serene that I started to reflect on my time here in Ireland. Like the view, my experience here is something that I will never forget.

I can also see how the Irish people formulated the legends associated with the Cliffs of Moher. Such as the legend of the Lost City of Kilstiffen, a city lost to the seas when a chieftain lost the key to it in a great battle. This symbolizes the limitless nature of Irish imagination, as from the cliffs one could see to the unknown. The rocks below the cliffs are also incorporated in legend, the Mermaid of Moher. It was so serene of a place that it is thought that the spiritual veil was thin enough that a mermaid was sighted. She was so captivated by the view, she took the chance to visit the mortal world by marrying a fisherman. If even a mermaid can fall in love with physical Ireland, then I daresay so can I.IMG_4167 IMG_4170

 

Joshua Harsono

 

Croke Park

27 Oct

As my first co-curricular I went to Croke Park. I was excited for this, as I have always enjoyed sports. When we arrived we watched a short movie about what goes on at Croke Park. Then, we went into a locker room. Our guide talked us through what a player would be experiencing before a match, and we were to imagine we were them. We went into a room where they stretch and warm up. We all huddled up in a circle and the guide led us through some possible pre-game rituals that would occur. Next, we got to walk through the entrance to the field that the players would use, getting to see the pitch up close.
Our guide briefly discussed Bloody Sunday, the massacre that occurred during a Gaelic football game as revenge for the “Cairo Gang” assassination. I did some further research on this and discovered that the “Cairo Gang” was a “team of undercover British agents working and living in Dublin” (crokepark.ie). The night before the football match, Michael Collins sent soldiers to assassinate some of these men, leaving fourteen dead. British forces then attended the game, claiming they were there to search people for weapons. Shots were fired very shortly after the start of the game and fourteen people were killed. It is unclear what exactly happened, as the official statements released about the event are not consistent. The incident shook both Irish and British citizens, as the British forces seemed to have targeted innocent bystanders in retaliation.
What struck me as very unique and different from the United States, was that the athletes who play at Croke Park do not get paid, and yet the sports are still very popular in Ireland. It seems as though amateur sports would not get nearly as much of a following in the US. This is highlighted through soccer. Soccer is not very big in the US and one possible reason for that is due to the fact that there are very little commercial breaks, leaving little room to make money off of advertisements. It is a sad reality that American culture seems so focused around making a profit.
Gaelic football and hurling are very unique and entertaining sports, it’s a shame they are not played internationally. I enjoyed learning more about this aspect of Irish culture and the history behind the stadium.

Jordan Begley

A Hike in Howth

24 Oct

 

Saturday, September 5th

The sun beating down in early September with a refreshing waterfront breeze made for a perfect day to hike the coast of Howth. N.U.in planned a day trip to Ireland’s beautiful harbor town of Howth for the students to enjoy a scenic walk along the town’s cliffs. It was amazing to me how drastically scenery could change in a 20 minute train ride. After spending a week in Dublin, it was a nice break from the rainy bustling city to be in open space full of fresh air. Immediately after hopping off the train I knew we were close to the water thanks to the strong smell of fish. My friends and I quickly began our ascent up the cliffs to get a better view of the spectacular landscape. Once at the top, I instantly noticed this fairly large island a few miles off the coast. I did not notice any activity around the island or any signs of civilization on this beautiful piece of land in the distance. I later learned that was not always the case.

Over 1000 years ago in the 9th century, the Vikings settled on a small island known as Lambay Island just off the shore of Howth. This island is the exact one I noticed while on my hike with my friends. After seeing the area, it is easy to visualize the vikings sailing in and finding a new temporary home in Ireland. The vikings did not remain on the island, for it made more sense to settle on the larger piece of land with access to more resources.  This Scandinavian group continued inland and founded the city of Dublin sailing in on their longships. Dublin (originally Dubh Linn), meaning “Black Pool”, was named after a large area of still water that connected to the River Liffey where the Vikings docked their ships.

11992042_1101224539905165_1783093810_n

 

– John Braun

 

 

Croke Park

30 Sep

We walked into the Croke Park museum and towards a theatre that holds about 100 people. The lights went off and on the large screen in front played an inspirational video displaying Irelands two national sports, Gaelic football and Hurling. For someone who has never seen a game of either sport, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw men running and bouncing a ball off their foot at the same time. The stadium in the video was run by hundreds of people in preparation for the games, and once the stadium was filled with people it was roaring with excitement. I then got to tour the amazing establishment and from the moment I saw the field I knew that I would have to attend a game before I leave Ireland; it just looks like too much fun.

Croke Park, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, holds 80,200 people. The large stadium does not only represent the national sports of Gaelic football and hurling but a significant historical aspect of Ireland. The great Irish famine took a large toll on the morale of Ireland and it was the renewal of Gaelic sports that helped bring back excitement and a sense of community among the counties of Ireland.

Archbishop Thomas Croke was the GAA’s first patron, and in 1913 the Croke Memorial tournament was held to fund a monument for him. The final of this tournament included Kerry facing Louth, and this final was so popular that in July of 1913 the Central Council decided to buy the grounds and re-name it as Croke Memorial Park. Accommodation for spectators in 1913 was minimal including two stands. The GAA’s first effort at modernization was in 1917 using the rubble from the 1916 uprising on O’Connell Street, to build a terrace. In 1924 the GAA built a new stand and named it the Hogan Stand, in honor of Michael Hogan who had been shot during Bloody Sunday along with twelve other people.

The park is run mainly with volunteers as many of the profits are redistributed to places around Ireland such as Sligo. The vast green field is all natural turf and is heated through with 2 miles of pipeline. There are lights that shine on the turf to grow it, and because the regulated length of grass for hurling is different than Gaelic football they compromise with a length in-between the regulated lengths. Today Croke Park is one of the largest stadiums in Europe and is the crowning glory of the Association

IMG_4887

— Savannah Kinzer

Dancing; slow and fast

17 Apr

Dance slow, dance fast

hand in hand

at once with all there is and all there’s been.

Feet placed, head lifted, feet flying and

all at once we take

our turn being led by and leading the world.

Dance well, dance quick

head up, wits and eyes and finger’s tips alert.

Alert to speak, alert to glance, alert to catch.

Alert to touch, alert to balance. Alert to fall,

to crash, to death. Alert to life. Life

to live. A dance to dance slow and fast

and when lost in place and lost in time

to twirl

and twirl

and twirl.

I’ve found my time here to be akin to a dance of sorts. I don’t really have any idea how to dance in any physical or artistic way – for clarification – but I can’t help but feel that I’ve learned something of the art in my time abroad.

I take the hand of my life abroad gently, tentatively at first. I let it lead. Guiding me through this country which is loved so well. To the Head of Howthe, to Galway Bay, and to the theatres of Dublin. Not passively, I follow its lead through these spaces and times. I take what I can from the dance. When to let the spark of excitement ignite – to dance fast – and jump with glee at the beauty appealing to some innate quintessence carried by both myself and the landscapes I dance through. When to sit, patient, and listen – to dance slow – to the experiences of those – as in Derry – who love their home but remember the tragedies which befell it only too well. When to become lost in a moment of music and vibrancy – to dance like a madman – and, well, dance like a madman at the Rosin Dubh or the Workman’s Club.

As tourists we play amateur ethnographers. We would be fools, however, to think that any bit of culture that we experience can be taken away from their place of rest. The time I spent in Belfast – for example – can only serve as a memory which will only dance with me long enough to feel the essence of the history present there; to feel the lives of others for only the briefest instance. Forever sitting in my mind as flashes of incomplete insight.

Some brief thoughts on complex concepts,
Until next time,
Cheers.
Greg Geraldo

The Morality of Translation and “The Blind”

17 Apr

Writers grapple with many difficult questions in their profession. Writers of poetry and prose, story and song all have similar mountains to navigate when creating their narratives. How do I engage a reader of my novel or the audience of my play? The same stories of love, trial, rivalry; of war, spite, and revenge, all have been told before. One of the questions I’ve found the most difficult to answer is whether or not my protagonist will be defeated. Will he or she die? If he does, will it be on his terms? Will she have earned the sleep of the just? Will she compromise her morals? We have to choose whether to let our young opponent win the chess match. Do they learn more from their mistakes in the face of defeat or will they benefit more by the encouragement engendered by success?

It was this stream of thoughts that brought me to question the morality of translation. In the chess match offered above, the more skilled of the partners has the choice of winning or losing and every time he navigates the implications of either option. He, like a writer, has the opportunity to create a reality for someone else. This is where the dilemma exists.

A conversation between two speakers; one French, the other Russian. Between the two is a translator, fluent in the native tongue of each conversationalist. As the conversation persists, the translator must relay as accurately as possible the words, the inflection, the idiom of each speaker. However talented our translator may be, there will undoubtedly be words in French without an equivalent in Russian. This, again, is where the dilemma exists. The translator must choose new words with new connotations to continue the conversation. The final decision on what words to use lies upon the translator alone. This discontinuity can be benign in small-talk or crippling in negotiation.

I began to think of a larger metaphor for this, some story that could be told to engage an audience and explore the morality of such translations. I came first to a love-story. A writer and his partner, afoot in the world. The partner is blind of sight and the writer relates the world to her with poignant, descriptive poetry. This, a direct metaphor for translating the world to another. The writer would be honest but eloquent. He would, in any case, truthfully relate the image to his partner no matter the beauty or disgust of the scene. He would stick to his moral code of honesty. He would be devout, that is, until the end. In the end of the story, he would fail. He would be presented with something to translate for his partner and it would be the ultimate test of his resolve. Perhaps before their execution, they are presented with a grotesquely horrific image of the world. The writer would choose beauty to translate over the reality. He would lie to her. He would be defeated.

This idea was floated in and out of my mind for a few of my weeks here in Dublin. Every now and again, I would explore some other possibility or aspect of it. It remained dormant for a while. Then I read Sean O’ Casey. Juno and the Paycock presents to us the world of Captain Boyle whose world is constantly being penetrated by the outside world. He manages the intrusions with pure denial. In his monologue and actions, he assumes control over his own life, where in reality he has none. In his denial, he affects his family around him; he perpetuates his delusions of grandeur and ignorance within his family. He translates the world for those around him.

Light bulb moment.

I started writing again, this time with new characters. A father and a daughter this time. The father a translator for his blind daughter. They are somewhere in Irish history, but where? After visiting Belfast, it came more clearly. Hearing accounts from Ex-Political Prisoners of children being killed and of families hiding in their homes for fear of being killed for their religious or political persuasion, I knew that the family would be living through the Troubles. More precisely, in the early 1970s in a Catholic neighborhood in Belfast, near the beginning of the more intense violence.

The father character, Frank, would be loosely based on O’ Casey’s Captain Boyle. He would provide benign explanation for the horrors occurring outside to his young daughter whose blindness holds the truth as a secret. Maggie, the daughter, accepts her father’s stories for truth. She is our insight into the Irish mentality of non-action, of preferring a narrative rather than reality. This idea comes from the romantic poetry written by Yeats and other poets about the West of Ireland and of the beauty and quality of experience of life there. We know from Irish history that the West is often neglected politically and has experienced intense poverty and oppression yet this is ignored in preference for poetic verse.

Another character is essential. He is a son, Sean (named after Sean O’ Casey himself.) Sean is fed-up with his fathers lies and is reaching a breaking point. He reminds us of the Irish mentality of building resentment and finally exploding without much ground to stand without the context of history. We’ve seen this in the current Water Charge protests around the country and in the 1798 and 1916 uprisings by Irish nationalists against British rule. Sean is arrogant and angry and loud, but aware and human.

A rehearsed reading of my one-act play, entitled The Blind, was performed exceptionally by fellow Lewis & Clark students on the last day of classes in the Black Box theatre at Dublin Business School.

This play served as a culmination of what I’ve learned of Irish Life and Culture; of art and history. Attached is a Word file containing The Blind.

Cheers for now,
Greg Geraldo