Archive | January, 2013

One Amazing Pint

30 Jan

After telling just about anyone that I was studying abroad in Ireland the first response I would get was, “So are you going to enjoy a nice pint of Guinness?” Well of course I was. I thought what a silly question. When I had the opportunity to go to the Guinness Storehouse with DBS for free I couldn’t pass up the offer! I was not only interested with the brewing process but even more interested in the Guinness family overall. The man who took us on a tour around Dublin in the first few days I was here raved about how not only was the Guinness family smart brewers and business men but they were excellent philanthropists.
To really understand the success of the business today, it is necessary to know the complete history behind the Guinness family. Arthur Guinness inherited some money from his father after he passed away. He then bought the St. Jame’s Gate Brewery in 1759. Arthur married Olivia and they had twenty one children, out of which only ten survived. The couple’s third son Benjamin was the next in line to inherit the family business. He was also the one that started the philanthropic work. He donated £150,000 to restore St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Benjamin’s son Edward Cecil Guinness gained control and made Guinness the worlds largest brewery and allowed for the company to get on the stock market. He also proceeded to found the Guinness and Iveagh Trusts for Dublin and London’s homeless. He donated £1m towards revamping the slums and housing projects in Dublin. After Edward passes away he gave his 50% share of the business and split it evenly between his three sons. Nowadays the Guinness family only controls 3% of the company.
It is not only amazing to me that one man, Arthur Guinness, can make such a difference in the world but that his family has continued to make great use of their wealth. Ireland and other parts of the world are better places because of the Guinness family!

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A little bit of Cobh

30 Jan

On a weekend trip to Cork with some friends, we took a bus tour of some of the surrounding areas. One of my favorite places we had the pleasure of stopping at was Cobh, a seaport town in the South of County Cork. Cobh is on of the largest harbours in Ireland, which allows for major cruise lines and large boats to pass through. Throughout history, Cobh has had many name changes; it was first called Cove, then got renamed to Queenstown after Queen Victoria for many years. Ultimately, after the foundation of Irish Free State, it was named Cobh and remains so to this day. When a few different Irish kids in my classes asked where I was traveling to this past weekend, I said Cobh, but pronounced it like it looks, Cob, like corn on the cob. After two different students in two different classes laughed at my pronunciation, I quickly caught on that it was indeed pronounced cove, like it’s original spelling.

One of the most attention catching details to me about Cobh is that it was the final port that the Titanic docked at and departed from on its voyage across the Atlantic. The Titanic was an astonishingly large and beautiful boat, especially during the 1900’s. Being a huge fan of the movie, I really enjoyed being able to be in the same place as the famous Titanic once was, many years ago.

A second eye catching figure in Cobh is the St. Coleman’s Cathedral. Seeing the massive cathedral located on top of a hill peeking above many shops and houses was really interesting to see due to how small most of the buildings in Ireland are. Immediately I wanted to climb to the top of the hill and see the beautiful Cathedral up close; when I entered, it was breath taking. I had never been in such a beautiful church before, and I was intrigued by the stained glass windows and such a high ceiling. After saying a prayer at one of the candles, I was ready to depart Cobh and see the rest of the gorgeous sites Ireland has to offer.Image

From one Irish city to another one?

29 Jan

So, as I am sure you have read from the previous blog posts, a group of us traveled into Cork this past weekend to explore another part of Ireland. It is such a unique city. It is designed exactly like Dublin except it is a lot smaller and it is a lot quieter. It is just a lot calmer and in a way, you don’t feel like you are in a city. I had a great time seeing the English Market, walking along St. Patrick Street, and if I had to, I would reside at the hostel we were at this past weekend. Our group also had the opportunity to go on a bus tour to see Kinsale, Cobh, and we even got to kiss the Blarney Stone on top of the Blarney Castle. I was even able to get a great picture of myself at the Old Head of Kinsale. Seeing these three places was absolutely phenomenal and to be able to say that I have kissed the Blarney Stone is definitely something to brag about.

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Cork was amazing but as we all departed from Cork on the bus home, I was thinking about my next trip to another part of Ireland. I am so excited to go to Belfast and see the different culture that currently resides there. It is just fascinating to think about. While I was viewing the Northern Ireland Wikipedia page, I was wondering about how people around different parts of Ireland view the north. Actually, last night I was lucky enough to meet an old man at O’Shea’s Merchant and we talked about all kinds of stuff for twenty-five minutes or so. I told him how I was in a program that was giving us the opportunity to go to Galway and Belfast. I also told him how I was so interested in Belfast and the Northern Ireland/Ireland split. He mentioned to me that it is very different in the North and went on to recite a story of how one person would not even accept his money a couple years back. I said about how that I thought it was fifty-fifty with the Catholic to Protestant ratio. He then said that he thought it was actually a 75-25 percent ratio with Catholic to Protestants. Whatever the ratio, it still makes me wonder about the relationship between the two sides and how it got so out of hand. I definitely have a lot of questions about Northern Ireland and I am so excited to go and explore it in only three more weeks! 

Interning Abroad

29 Jan

During my time abroad here in Dublin, I have the privelage of being able to intern at Sheehan & Associates, a small accounting firm in the Dublin suburb of Lucan. I know coming into the internship that I will be doing the grunt work of the company. My job is not to make the fun, business-shaping decisions. My role in the company is to take time-consuming, simple tasks off the plate of people who do actually make those decisions. This is perfectly fine with me. I know that I will be the inexperienced American in the office. Hopefully, time spent doing this internship and others will help me along my career so that I can one day be the person that makes those business-shaping decisions.
While taking 24 hours (plus the commute) out of my week to work may mean that I miss out on some of the scheduled activities planned for us, it will provide me with two things. First, I will have excellent workplace experience for when I return home. Second, and most importantly in my time here, is that I will be thrown into the Irish culture by being a part of the workplace. This is how Ireland is meant to be seen–among the people. There aren’t going to be the influences of my American peers from DBS. It’s just me, five other employees, and their clients.
As I said, I am working in Lucan, which is about a 30-minute bus ride outside of Dublin. My office is located in what is considered the town center. This consists of about a 4-block area. The options for lunch are Centra and not much else. I’ve only been to work twice, but both times it’s been the Centra special (only 3 Euro!) for me. These two days have been about what I expected them to be. My bosses slowly introducing me to what they do on a daily basis and trying to figure out just how much I can handle. On my end, I’m doing my best to become a contributing member of this 5-person company and prove that I can handle whatever tasks they decide to give me. I am hoping that during my time here, I can establish myself as an integral part of the company. I may not be a full-time employee, but my goal is to be relied upon to do the jobs asked of me, and to do them well.

History and Modern Life at St. Coleman’s Cathedral

29 Jan

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One aspect of Ireland that has not ceased to amaze me in my short time here is the amount of history present everywhere I have visited. This weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Cork and take in all of the history and beautiful sights. Many of the monuments and castles date back to before America was even colonized, which is why I think I am so in awe with the history present in this country. I also found myself very interested in the way the past and present are juxtaposed in the present day. While riding the bus home through some of the small towns around Cork, we would pass the remains of an old, historic building after passing through a town or we would visit a castle just up the road from a modern coffee shop and a Centra. The way these different time periods are literally placed next to each other throughout Ireland has definitely been a highlight of my time here.

 

            One historic sight I visited that really made this fusion of the past and present resound for me was St. Coleman’s Cathedral in in Cobh. Just looking at St. Coleman’s made me realize why it is a tourist attraction; it is a beautiful Cathedral standing tall over the city. The Cobh Cathedral website said that the Cathedral is an excellent example of Neo-gothic architecture and the inside in beautifully decorated with details like carvings that show Catholic history from St. Patrick’s arrival to the present day. I was amazed by the history of the Cathedral as I have been with so many of the sights I have seen in Ireland. The website says that the Cathedral took 47 years to build, starting in 1868. In 1916 the Carillon of 42 bells was installed, which is the largest carillon in terms of the number of bells in both Ireland and Britain. The history of the diocese of Cobh extends back even further. St. Coleman founded the diocese in 560 A.D. He also founded a monastery, traces of which still survive. I felt very lucky to be able to see something so historical.

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            However, I hesitated a little when writing that this Cathedral was a historic sight. It clearly holds a lot of history, but it is also not purely a historical monument. When walking inside the church, I first saw a poster listing mass times. People, who were not tourists, walked in and out of the Cathedral to pray and children were up of the altar practicing for a ceremony. In the church, there is an inscribed list of all the bishops in Cobh County up to the present day- a list that will soon be added to. I learned from the website that a new Bishop elect was ordained the Sunday we left Cork. This Cathedral is relevant both historically and currently. It has not been closed purely for tourist purposes; it is still a part of many people’s everyday life. This tying together of the past and present really struck me and sparked my interest in both the historical and modern parts of Ireland. 

Discovering the Irish in Me

29 Jan

The famous Danish author, Karen Blixen, once wrote, “The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.” A painting of this well-known quote hangs on the wall in my beach house and my house at school. As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, being near the water reminds me of home. This past weekend, a group of American students traveled to Cork, Ireland to explore the southwest portion of this beautiful country. Since the bus station in Cork is located directly next to the River Lee, the water immediately captivated me. While gazing at the river’s beauty, I quickly noticed a moving object upstream. In the river Lee was a progression of men and women in rowing boats.

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Cork is translated as Corcaigh in Irish, which literally means “marsh.” The city centre of Cork was originally constructed on islands surrounded by the River Lee. Therefore, the land was very marshy and prone to lots of floods. In fact, some of the current streets in Cork City were once waterways. Water has always been an important part of Cork’s history and water is still important to Cork City today.

Since the beginning of settlement in Ireland, people have been flowing through the Cork Harbour rapidly. In fact, Cork is home to the largest harbour in Ireland, which is the second largest harbour in the entire world. The only harbour larger than the Cork harbour is in Sydney, Australia. As mentioned by the Cork City Council, “almost everything significant that has happened in Ireland has more or less had some connection with the area.” Cork was a large emigration point for Irish citizens before and during the famous potato famine. Emigrant ships that left Cork offered three classes for people to travel: first, second, and steerage and the journey to the United States usually lasted between one and two months. In addition to the United States, a large portion of the ships leaving the Cork harbour also sailed to England, Australia, and Canada. The most famous of the ships that sailed from the Cork harbour was the Titanic in 1912.

In addition to it’s historical emigration importance, Cork harbour is also home to the navy of Ireland. The Naval Service is Ireland’s primary seagoing service.

Cork City harbour is recognized for its vast amount of water sport offerings. Today, there are numerous water sports that take place in Cork. The two most popular of these sports are rowing and sailing. The River Lee is home to five different rowing clubs that all compete against each other. Some of these clubs are over 100 years old and each club has their own history. Since 2005, Cork City has hosted the “Ocean to City” race each year. This race attracts rowers from many areas of Ireland in addition to the five local clubs. Not many cities in the United States are recognized for the popularity of water sports, but every travel guide I read about Cork, Ireland consistently mentioned the importance and excitement of Cork water sports. In fact, a survey done in 1996 and 2003 by the Economic and Social Research Institute concluded that around half of all adults in Ireland participate in a water-based activity annually. Incorporating water activities into daily life is clearly a very important aspect of the Irish social life.

It fascinates me how important water is to the Irish society. A large portion of Irish history takes place around the water and even a large portion of social life today occurs by the water too. Although my last name suggests that I come from a German heritage and my mom’s family is very Italian, due to my love for the water, maybe I have more Irish in me after all!

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References:

Cork City Council, “History of Cork.” http://www.corkcity.ie/aboutcork/historyofcork/

Defense Forces of Ireland, “History.” http://www.military.ie/naval-service

Irish History Along the Streets

29 Jan

History can be found along most most streets in Dublin, and similarly throughout the country as a whole. Ireland has a very rich cultural and historical background that is held sacred by the people here, one that will not be forgotten thanks to the works of art that preserve the stories of the past. Perhaps most notably, the presence of many statues line the streets of the capital city, allowing locals and tourists alike to take a look at significant figures of Irish history during their everyday walks to school, work, or simple strolls. 

The likes of Daniel O’Connell, James Joyce, and Charles Stewart Parnell can all be found within three minutes of one another, despite their lives overlapping each other over more than one hundred years and the fact that none have actually walked the streets of Dublin in over seventy years. However, the presence of their statues along O’Connell Street and North Earl Street will forever immortalize the impact that they have had on the city, the country, and even the world. Their political actions, national movements, and literary works are constantly preserved by the reminders that their statues allow for passers by to have. 

Historical preservation goes beyond just Dublin, of course. Ireland’s lengthy and colorful history remains a stronghold of today’s culture within the country by way of many things. Of note, Ireland’s more recent independence from the United Kingdom can be seen everywhere by way of preserving the Irish language on signs, the existence of the GAA which was formed as an anti-UK sporting league, and even the colors of certain everyday landmarks such as garbage bins along the street. While certain aspects of Ireland’s history are more obviously spotted than others, it still stands true that the country is one who is proud of its background and certainly doesn’t hesitate to display it. 

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