Archive | September, 2012

What a wonderful culture night!

27 Sep

I went to the biggest event in this September- Dublin’s culture night last Friday night. Before I went there, I checked the website out and was impressed by the number of events. The number of events is so large that it seems like Dubliners are celebrating their culture for thousands of millions of years.

At first, I went to the book of kells in Trinity College. Thousands of People are all lining up for seeing the world’s famous library (also they cue because for the free 10 euros). Stone buildings and architecture styles are my favorite because each stone has its shape and it tells a different story of how it becomes like that during these long time. Moreover, carrying stones is such a heavy work that it needs tons of money to hire people or even berau forced slaves to vary them. Stones standing there and telling their stories quietly. I lined up for a couple of minutes and I do not want to waste this precious time on cueing and not visiting other activities. And then, I went to the science gallery. They are showing different kinds of brand new technology and materials. Later on, I went to look for the filmbase and Irish film institution in temple bar area that posted on the website and I have heavy interests on. I found it Irish film institution was saleing its tickets smartly because all people are coming out to participate various kinds of workshops ad activities, especially families. Families and couples more intend to watch films because they are not walking around and they need to spend time with each other. Therefore, it is a successful film tickets saling way. I spent more than one hour to watch a whole round of short films in filmbase because I enjoyed so much of it. There is a interesting story I will never forget is that a man picks up a TV during the seaside and he found there is a beautiful callianassidae. He doesn’t sleep or eat in order to watch every movement of her. As the time goes by, he falls in love with her and he finds that the TV is leaking and callianassidae cannot live without a water environment. He decides to put the TV back and live with her in the sea. When he is dying in the deep of the sea, he thinks he dying for not have oxygen. At the same time he touches her hand and he finds an old lady is watching at him and looks like picking a TV up. I had an amazing night and amazing night view of Dublin.

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Museum!

27 Sep

It was the usual Irish stereotype of a rainy day when the NUin group gathered around the Dublin Business School on Aungier Street at 2:45pm in the afternoon. Excitement and exhilaration filled the air as we headed south of Dublin city towards the National Museum of Ireland. I felt ecstatic for I had always had an interest for history and culture. Today I devoted the entire afternoon to immerse myself in the culture that welcomed me ever so beautifully. Walking around the beautifully decorated exhibitions, I was fascinated with many Irish artifacts. The Vikings exhibition, the Spears, and the Celtic crosses all taught me more about the harsh yet fascinating history Ireland went through to become the beautiful, green country it is today. I had the opportunity to learn more about the artifacts there.

Having finished touring the Irish history exhibition, I found myself walking down a narrow stairway that led me to the haven I was yet about to venture into. In the dark room I entered I relived the ancient Egypt way of life. I was able to see the jewels, the artifacts and the precious gold. One of the things at the museum that impressed me the most was a mummified cat. Finding this subject particularly interesting, I decided to research more about it once I got home. In Ancient Egypt civilization, cats were treated with much respect and were put on high pedestals. It all started with the goddess Bast, who was portrayed as a warlike lion but with time became more associated with a domestic cat. To her, cats were sacred and therefore needed to be mummified when dead. They were treated just like humans, therefore if one human killed a cat even if by accident that same person would face death penalty. Now a days, cats aren’t respected as much as they were before. Egyptians perceive some cats especially black, as been bad omens; therefore they have lost that special hierarchy that they once were in.

I was very fascinated with this special artifact of the ancient Egypt civilization that I know for sure that I’ll be visiting Egypt soon and that I will visit the National Museum of Ireland again. I hope that the other NUin students enjoyed this tour as much as I did and will want to visit it again with me.

“The Plough and the Stars” by Sean O’Casey

26 Sep

Our visit to the O’Reilly Theatre to watch “The Plough and the Stars”!

Machismo men with red-blooded tempers, alcoholics and patriotic people by every sense of the word, these three Irish stereotypes became very apparent in the play my drama class watched this past weekend, entitled, The Plough and the Stars, by Sean O’Casey.
Based on the famous unsuccessful 1916 uprising of Irish society against British rule, O’Casey uses the first two acts to give his audience a perspective into Irish society prior to the uprising in 1915. As a member of the audience, I was able to gain a greater understanding into the factors that led to the conflict; which include a desire to gain independence and pursue other liberties that were denied by the British. Moreover, there was a strong element of nationalism that featured in these first two acts, expressed by the protagonist, Jack Clitheroe, and the characters of Uncle Peter and the Young Covey, a cousin of the Clitheroes’. There were various scenes in these first two acts where these characters would go on long rants about the discriminatory British rule and how the average Irish workingman deserves a better life.
The last two acts were set during the 1916 Easter uprising within the very heat of the conflict. I was exposed to the aggressive nature of Irish men through the character of Jack, who abused his wife Nora in one of the scenes, after she kept on insisting that he come home instead of going to fight the British. The character of Fluther reinforces this stereotype when he gets into a fight at a pub about politics with a British man.
Finally, the use of alcohol throughout the play played a crucial role in many of the scenes. Not only did this element of the play cause many conflicts, it was used as a mechanism by the characters to deal with the stresses of the conflict and express their feelings. Thus, the overconsumption of alcohol within the play was believable, as a large part of Irish culture involves drinking.
The play highlights three important characteristics of Irish culture that helped me better understand the people of Ireland. I was able to experience these stereotypes in the context of the 1916 uprising, and this interesting opportunity has made me realize that these stereotypes are true of the Irish people to a limited extent; not all Irishmen belong to these stereotypes as was expressed in the play.
I am glad to have watched such a historically rich and entertaining play so early into my experience here in Ireland, and look forward to viewing other forms of arts/media to develop a greater familiarity and understanding of Irish culture.

Visit to the National Museum of Archeology

26 Sep

Walking into the National Museum of Archeology, I was immediately overwhelmed by the vast amounts of various, ancient artifacts and treasures displayed on the main floor of the ground room. After walking aimlessly around for a bit, I came across the first gallery of the museum’s treasury exhibit. This gallery displays pieces of art uncovered throughout Ireland, starting from the Iron Age and continuing into the early Medieval Ireland. Large descriptions on the walls indicate and describe stages of Irish art history and its evolving influences throughout that time period.

While walking throughout the gallery, reading the description plates of a variety of pieces, I noticed a display of a tall, ancient looking cross. It features many intricate and detailed designs, and according to is description, is known as the Tully Lough Cross from the 8th or 9th century A.D.  It is from what is referred to as the Golden Age of Irish art. This time period was in the center of Ireland’s transition from paganism to Christianity, which included missionaries from Roman Britain and the building of monasteries. This age defines itself through the exceptional craftsmanship and design displayed in pieces from those centuries. Before Christianity was widely established, Irish art was heavily influenced by the Celts. Celtic art involved highly skilled craftsmen and detailed metalwork. As Christianity became more widespread, the same skills were utilized by Irish artists, but the actual designs evolved into Romanized Christian influenced pieces, such as crosses and chalices. The Golden Age produced a combination of Roman Christian influence and design combined with various bits of Celtic craftsmanship and design. Throughout the rest of the Golden Age display were chalices, small ornaments, crosiers and a huge stone inscribed with an elaborate cross on its front.  

The Tully Lough Cross itself seems to be an excellent representation of the Golden Age of Irish art. It displays its beautiful craftsmanship and details. It causes me to believe that having the occupation of an artist in that time period required brilliant concentration, extensive training and an eye for beauty. Although the Tully Lough is unique in the context of the museum’s Golden Age display, it does share the same qualities as the other pieces do.

Normally I do not find museums particularly interesting, but after visiting the museum, I really felt as though I had learned something, and am eager to find out more about the history of Ireland.

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Newgrange

26 Sep

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Upon entering our Irish Life and Cultures class I was incredibly eager to learn about the land which my great grandparents and beyond once called home. During our first lecture we discussed so many interesting historical topics that I at times became somewhat overwhelmed. Once removed from the classroom, trying to distinguish (without notes) between the many ages, inhabitants and societies was a challenge. However, one of the most prominent pieces of information that undeniably remained glued to the forefront of my mind was that of Newgrange. After our class I went home and decided to conduct some of my own research, and was again intrigued by the ancient structure while completing our reading assignment.

Newgrange interests me for a number of reasons.For starters, its construction dates further back than both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Archaeologists believe that Newgrange may have taken a force of 300 laborers at least 20 years to construct. While I have yet to visit this remarkable structure, I can only imagine and dissect photos in order to fathom how incredible it truly is. This passage tomb, or often referred to as an ancient temple, was created by a farming community in the Boyne Valley in order to worship and bury societal dignitaries.

As if its size isn’t alone noteworthy, my favorite aspect of Newgrange is the actual passage chamber and its sophisticated design. As explained by historians and archaeologists alike, the chamber was designed to allow a small shaft of light in to illuminate the chamber–all in accordance with the timing of the winter solstice. This remarkable display occurs at dawn on the winter solstice, lasting a short 17 minutes. Many believe the design signifies the society’s observance that the dead are now embarking on a new journey, much like the rebirth of nature after winter months.

I believe that this concept is not only beautiful, but incredibly telling of how advanced and truly sophisticated its builders were. For such a large structure, the meticulous detail and astrological knowledge put into Newgrange is remarkable–especially when you consider it being built over 5000 years ago. It is often hard for we 21st century humans to fathom such concepts, as buildings, structures and monuments may be easily completed in as few as 2-5 years sometimes. The technologies we possess both help and hurt our intellect, as we need not consider the astrological calendar due to amenities such as electricity, heat and air conditioning. I am eager to visit Newgrange at some point during my term in Ireland, and have actually submitted an application to the visitation lottery for the upcoming winter solstice! Fingers crossed…

Photo: Google images

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National Museum of Ireland

26 Sep

This week, some friends and I went to check out the National Museum of Ireland, specifically, the archaeology exhibition. I was surprised at the number of artifacts contained here—and really enjoyed viewing and reading about each one. However, I was particularly drawn to a beautiful gold collar from 800-700 B.C found in Gorteenreagh, Co. Clare.

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During the Later Bronze Age, goldsmiths made many ornaments out of sheet gold, the finest being large gold collars, or ‘gorgets’. Made up of five to seven separate pieces, the collar is combined into one piece by ends consisting of two discs. The lower disc is attached to the collar by a gold wire, while the upper disc is held in place by the lower. There are nine surviving gold collars/fragments of gold collars, the rest have been lost or melted.

Gorgets would have been worn on the upper part of the chest, and some sources suggest these would have been worn by rich Irish warrior kings. In the gorget, gold was used to emphasize its weight and suggest power.

I was also intrigued by the simpler artifacts on display. One display case contained two cauldrons, a flesh hook, and bucket from 900-500 B.C. Cauldrons, also from the Later Bronze Age, may have been used for boiling liquids and food by adding hot stones, or possibly for beer making. These cauldrons consisted of a number of bronze sheets riveted together and could be suspended over heat. Some early Irish tales talk about magic cauldrons, suggesting that the meals cooked in these may have been a part of some rituals.

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Flesh hooks, such as the one in this photo, may have been used to remove hot meat, and may also have been considered ritual objects.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at the museum learning about ancient Ireland. And I got to meet this guy!

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Shannon Smith

A Trip to the National Museum of Archeology

26 Sep

The trip to the National Museum of Ireland-Archeology was very interesting.  I found out a lot of information relating to the history of Ireland.  Before coming abroad, I did not know much about Irelands past, especially about the objects and relics that were brought to my attention.  The moment I walked into the museum, I noticed the tall ceiling that had a unique, beautiful pattern.  As I began walking around, I couldn’t help but go straight to the gold exhibit, where I saw the ear-spools and bracelets, which seem to fascinate me.  By the looks of the jewelry, I could only imagine how heavy these objects were and what it would be like to have the weight of them on ones body.  I learned that in Ireland there are three different types of ear-spools that can be identified from the past.  Also on the first floor, there was a case displayed with pottery vessel containing cremated bones of a women and child.  I found it appealing that when reading about this, the practice of placing the cremated remains in pottery vessels still appears to have continued.

Making my way up to the second level, and walking around that floor was when I realized what had interested me the most.  Though I looked at the displays on the church, the iron bell, the tools and ceramics, as well as the Viking burial, the display that showed much significance to me was the Dublin Viking Age House.  It was cool to see what conditions the Vikings lived in, meaning their shelter.  The house seemed to be low walled and rectangular shaped.  There wasn’t much furnisher for example; the description did say that there is no evidence of tables.  The Viking age house was well presented at the museum and definitely was something that caught my eye!

Many of the artifacts at the museum taught me a lot about Irelands historical past which I did not know of.  The National Museum of Archeology was actually the first museum I have been to since my arrival in Ireland and I can’t wait to see and learn about everything else over the next few months.

Dublin Viking Age House