Archive | April, 2013


22 Apr

Daniel O’Connell was born in Cahirciveen, County Kerry, on 6th August 1775. The O’Connell family were members of the Irish Catholic aristocracy in Ireland. Although Daniel’s family were fairly wealthy, discriminatory legislation denied the O’Connell family status, opportunity and influence.

In 1791 Maurice O’Connell, the head of the O’Connell clan, adopted Daniel and paid for him to attend the best Catholic colleges in Europe. This included periods at St. Omer and Douai. In 1794 O’Connell enrolled in Lincoln’s Inn, London and two years later transferred to the King’s Inn, Dublin. While in London O’Connell became interested in politics.

By the time he had graduated and became a lawyer in 1798 O’Connell had fully committed himself to the religious tolerance fight, freedom of conscience, democracy and the separation of Church and State.

In Ireland O’Connell developed a reputation for his radical political views. He became involved with the United Irishmen, a group that had been inspired by the French Revolution. During the 1798 insurrection, O’Connell feared he would be arrested by the English authorities and went into hiding in Kerry. Despite his radical views, O’Connell opposed the insurrection. He argued that the Irish people “were not sufficiently enlightened to hear the sun of freedom” and that the insurrection had decreased rather than increased the desire for Irish liberation. Instead of rebellion, O’Connell advocated using the machinery of Parliament to obtain political and religious equality.

In 1829, Daniel O’Connell,  now a Catholic Lawyer turned Member of Parliament eradicated the last of the Penal Laws giving equal rights to all Irish people, and allowing Catholics to actively participate in the government (Even though Catholics had all the same rights as their Protestant counterparts, they were still treated as second class citizens, and still made up the majority of the lower class population of Ireland.


A life on the LIffey

22 Apr

The River Liffey  which in Irish means a Life is a river in Ireland that flows through the center of Dublin. Its splits off into many subrivers that include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac. The river supplies much of Dublin’s water supply, and as well as a range of recreational opportunities. The river was once named An Ruirthech, meaning “fast  or strong runner”. The word Liphe  or life (for which the river is named) talks about  the original name of the plain through which the river ran, but eventually came to refer to the river itself. It was also known as the Anna Liffey, possibly from an Anglicization of Abhainn na Life, the Irish phrase that translates into English as River Liffey.

Around 60% of the Liffey’s flow is abstracted for drinking water, and to supply industry. Much of this makes its way back into the river after purification in wastewater treatment plants. A popular myth is that Liffey water is used to brew Guinness but this is not true as Guinness uses water piped from the Wicklow mountains.

Dividing the Northside of Dublin from the Southside, the Liffey is today spanned by numerous bridges, mostly open to traffic. The most notable are the West-Link Bridge on the M50 motorway, the Seán Heuston Bridge and O’Connell Bridge. There are 3 foot-bridges in the city: the Millennium Bridge, the Seán O’Casey Bridge and the Ha’penny Bridge. In December 2009, the new Samuel Beckett Bridge opened. between the Seán O’Casey Bridge and the East Link Bridge, It was designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls, who also designed the James Joyce Bridge that spans the Liffey. The Samuel Beckett Bridge takes both road and pedestrian traffic and in the future it may also take rail traffic.

Guinness Good for you?

22 Apr

Studies claim that Guinness can be beneficial to the heart. A pint of the black stuff a day may work as well as a low dose aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks. Researchers found that “‘antioxidant compounds’ in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.”

Guinness ran an advertising campaign in the 1920s which stemmed from market research – when people told the company that they felt good after their pint, the slogan was born – “Guinness is Good for You”. Guinness was told to stop using the slogan decades ago – and the firm still makes no health claims for the drink. This type of advertising for alcoholic drinks that implies improved physical performance or enhanced personal qualities is now prohibited in Ireland. Diageo, the company that now manufactures Guinness, says: “We never make any medical claims for our drinks.”

The production of Guinness, as with many beers, involves the use of isinglass made from fish. Isinglass is used as a fining agent for settling out suspended matter in the vat. The isinglass is retained in the floor of the vat but it is possible that minute quantities might be carried over into the beer.Image

Cliffs of Moher

22 Apr

The Cliffs of Moher are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They rise 390 feet above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height 702 feet. The cliffs receive almost one million visitors a year. The cliffs take their name from an old fort called Moher that once stood on Hag’s Head, the most southern point of the cliffs. The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone, with the oldest rocks being found at the bottom of the cliffs. It is possible to see 300 million year-old river channels cutting through, forming unconformities at the base of the cliffs.

There are an estimated 30,000 birds living on the cliffs, representing more than 20 species. These include Atlantic Puffins, which live in large colonies at isolated parts of the cliffs and on the small Goat Island. Also present are hawks, gulls, guillemots, shags, ravens and choughs.

The Cliffs of Moher have appeared in numerous forms of media. In cinema, the cliffs have appeared in several films, such as The Princess Bride in 1987 as the filming location for “The Cliffs of Insanity”, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in 2007 when they go on search for one of the Horcruxes , and Leap Year in 2010. The cliffs are mentioned in the Martin Scorsese film Bringing Out the Dead in 1999, and are noted in the 2008 documentary Waveriders as the location of a large surfing wave known as “Aileens”.

In music, the cliffs have appeared in music videos, including Maroon 5’s “Runaway” video,  Westlife’s “My Love”, and Rich Mullins’ “The Color Green”. Most of singer Dusty Springfield’s ashes were scattered at the cliffs by her brother, Tom.

Dublin Zoo

22 Apr

Dublin Zoo is the largest zoo in Ireland and one of Dublin’s most popular attractions. It was opened in 1831,[4] and describes itself as a place of conservation, study, and education. The zoo’s misson statement is to “work in partnership with zoos worldwide to make a significant contribution to the conservation of the endangered species on Earth”. It cover over 69 acres of Phoenix Park, it is divided into areas named World of Cats, World of Primates, The Kaziranga Forest Trail, Fringes of the Arctic, African Plains, Birds, Reptiles, Plants, City Farm and Endangered Species.

At the time of its opening it was called the Zoological Gardens Dublin, and opened its doors on 1 September 1831. At the time all the animals, 46 mammals and 72 birds, were donated by London Zoo. The founders of Dublin Zoo were members of the medical profession and used the area as a place to practice and experiment in their profession.

Dublin Zoo is part of a global program to help breed endangered species. It is a member of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which aids in  the conservation of endangered species on the European Continent. Each species watched by the EEP has a single coordinator that is in charge of the building of breeding groups with the hope to achieve a more balanced and genetically optimal species.. Dublin Zoo manages the EEP for the Golden lion tamarin and the Moluccan Cockatoo. It also helps to house  the species Goeldi’s monkey and the white-faced Saki which are part of EEPs coordinated by other zoos. The focus is on conservation, which includes breeding and protecting endangered species, as well as research, study and education.

Host Mom

18 Apr

ImageThere have been many factors that have made my stay in Ireland a grand one, but nothing as much as staying with an Irish lady. Before I left the US, I had many plans set in place for what I was going to do and how it was going to look in Ireland, none of those plans actually happening—the home stay being one of them. I thought the family I would stay with would have a few children; I would ride around town in their car and eat dinner with them as a family. Beyond that idea, I wasn’t quite sure what would happen. It is hard to fully explain what the actual experience has been like, but I am going to at least try.

My “host mom” has four grown children and five grandchildren. Three of the four live in the United States and the other in London. When she isn’t hosting students, she lives alone and teaches at a Catholic school in Dublin. If I were to stop there in the descripton, one might never understand who she really was and what she taught me while I stayed in her home. The first thing I say to people when they ask about her is that she knows absolutely everything. This is hardly an exaggeration. I will come home after my day in classes and tell her all about what I am learning. In return, she will nod in agreement, than make her knowledgeable remarks about it. Not only that, but any question I asked about Ireland’s politics, religion, history, etc, she had an answer and description for. If I was headed on an exploration of Ireland, she could tell me off the top of her head what bus(es) to take or what to do while there. All this comes from living in Ireland for 50+years. It was a normal occurrence for us to sit down at the dinner table and talk for a long time, eventually moving the discussion into the living room to sit by the fire and sip our tea. ImageSpeaking of which, she got me to love tea and all it had to offer. As nights went by, I got to know her family through the stories she told me. She would tell me about her time living in the US—totalling 14 years– or about the other students she has hosted over the past ten years. Her friends would come over every other Saturday and occasionally I got the chance to just sit and listen to them banter on about American politics with them sometimes inquiring about my time in Ireland or what I thought about the US.  She answered any questions I had with a smile on her face and sometimes a laugh due to my naïve little mind. She always asked by name how my friends or parents were doing. She graciously opened up her home to any guests I wanted to have over to the house and would almost instantly offer them a cup of tea as they came to visit. She cooked delicious meals every evening and bought me my favorite foods. My feet were always numb from the cold, so for my birthday, she even bought me a fuzzy foot warmer. She’s kept me updated on the latest Irish events and even some American events. 

There are those horror stories of people getting a host family that are just awful. Their room is tiny, the family is rude, the kids don’t like them, etc. It is one of those “hit or miss” kind of deals. Luckily, I have been one hundred percent blessed to be living in a home with the best host ever. The entire time, I have tried to not take for granted where I am living or specifically whom I am living with. I’ve learned more about Ireland through my host mom than I ever would have thought possible. There have definitely been some cooking techniques and other little quirks that I will be taking back home with me because of her. Like I said before, I tried to picture and plan out what living with an Irish family would look like, but fortunately, I was dead wrong and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I am going to miss my room at the top of the house, the little village of Sandymount, the nights by the fire, but more importantly, I am going to miss my host mom.

Not your Typical Arcade

17 Apr

I am definitely one of those people who has no problem wondering the streets and finding new things. When I first got to Dublin finding new things and places was one of my favourite pastimes. I would walk all over the city, getting lost most of the time but I never minded it because I loved that feeling. Right up the street from Castlehouse and down the street from the DBS Aungier St. location I stumbled upon a little gem that would soon be one of my favourite places, George’s Street Arcade. I remember my first time walking through it. I was amazed with how many tiny shops fit into a place that really wasn’t all that large. The “South City Market” was what it was called when it first opened in 1881. The market was not as successful as it is today. It didn’t actually gain much popularity until a devastating fire broke out in 1892. This sounds a little bit strange, I know, but just wait. The shopkeepers lost everything, their stock and their homes. Most of them lived in the overhead areas above their shops. In true Dublin fashion though, the public stepped in and organised a fund for them. By 1894 the arcade was re-opened in the same style it had originally been crafted in. Today, the George’s Street Arcade has a nice ambiance to it. Just by walking through it you can tell many stores have been there for a very long time while others are just starting off. It has a nice mixed feel of old and new. One of the many reasons I love it so much. It also has everything you could think of, my favourite frozen yogurt shop to a collection of unique jewellery. There are cafes, vintage clothes, hair salons it is like a one stop shop. There is something for everyone here. I have now been through the arcade countless amounts of times yet every time it feels a little bit different. Gorge’s Street Arcade is one of those places in Dublin that caught my eye from the moment I saw and one that I am truly going to miss when I leave Dublin.