Archive | April, 2013

The Historical and Current Significance of The Abbey Theatre

17 Apr

This past week, I had the opportunity to see the play “Drum Belly” at The Abbey Theatre. Not only was this play very interesting, but the theatre itself is also very interesting and home to over 100 years of history. The Abbey Theatre was founded in 1904 by famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats and by Lady Augusta Gregory, famous Irish dramatist and folklorist. The artistic policy that the theatre was founded under has not changed. The theatre strives to “invest in and promote new Irish writers and artists”. They also strive to attract audiences and provide them with interesting and thought provoking experiences.

 

            Although these ideals have remained the same, many things have also changed about Abbey Theatre. For example, in 1951 the original Abbey Theatre burned down and was built again in 1966. However, despite whatever setbacks it faced, The Abbey Theatre was and remains an outstanding and very important Irish theatre. The Abbey Theatre premiered works by famous playwrights like J.M. Synge and Sean O’Casey. It was also a significant factor of the Irish literary movement and has produced many great 20th century plays.

 

            The Abbey Theatre is also looking towards the future at continuing to play a significant role in Irish playwriting and culture. For example, it is very interested in encouraging and promoting playwrights. The theatre has a Literary Department that specifically commissions both new and established Irish playwrights. Not only does the theatre have up to 25 writers on commission at a time, but it also runs a New Playwrights Programme which is an eighteen month program that works on artist development and encourages new writing. There is also the Abbey Theatre Playwright Series, which is an association made up of different publishing houses. The goal of these series is to keep up with emerging playwright talent by considering up to 350 unsolicited scripts in one year. These different initiatives show that Abbey Theatre is not just a historical theatre, but it is also a place for mew talent and contemporary playwrights to emerge. 

 

All information taken from The Abbey Theatre’s website. Image

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The Mullamast Stone

17 Apr

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            The artifact that caught my eye when roaming around the museum was the mullamast stone. The mullamast stone is a limestone boulder. This rock has spiral carvings all around it. decorated overall with la tene designs. Alike the designs found on metal dress pins and brooches of the period. The stones carvings have a special representation. The symbolism the spiral carvings convey are the continuity in one of the most resonant Celtic rituals: the sword in the stone. Unlike so many rituals found in Ireland this particular one has no importance on religion. Not saying that religion wasn’t an important key in everyday life at the time but with the particular stone it took a back seat to other traditions that survived and thrived within the culture. The Mullamast stone may have been considered to have magical properties, and deep score-marks suggest that weapons were sharpened on it, perhaps to ensure success in battle. The Mullamast Stone has four blade marks on the left hand side and two very deep ones on the top. The new king seems have struck or sharpened his stone against the stone as a key part of the inauguration ritual. At some point during the Iron Age the Celts invaded territory in Ireland. The Celts brought to Ireland a new culture which the native Irish adopted and made their own – Celtic language, customs and Art. The new style of Art which the Celts brought to Ireland is called La Tene. This is an abstract curvilinear style of decoration. One would find the designs on metal dress pins and broaches; The Petrie Crown is a fine example of Celtic Iron Age metalworking which displays the curvilinear repeated patterning typical of the La Tene style. It is made of Bronze pieces which are riveted together. The base is a bronze band which was bent into a circular shape that fits onto the head. The Broighter Collar: The collar is one of the finest examples of la Tene metal craftsmanship in Europe. This hollow collar is made from two plates of thin gold soldered together in tubular form and bent into a circular shape to fit around a neck. The La Tene style decoration was made using the repousse technique.

 

Guinness

17 Apr

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        The Guinness factory is a central feature one thinks about when they think about Ireland. Why? How did the factory contribute to Ireland? During the self-guided tour one finds out how the Guinness factory became to have so much success. They would learn about how the ingredients were found and how they perfected the recipe made to make the beer that is now such as trademark of Ireland. Aside from all that one learns the contributions the Guinness family made to Dublin and the Irish people.

      The long term assistances dates all the way back to 1725-1803 (“Archive fact sheet:,” ). Arthur Guinness the first aside from achieving a great deal in brewery had also donated 250 guineas to the Chapel Schools of St. Patrick’s (“Archive fact sheet:,” ). This was just the start to the charitable donations the Guinness family would make to St. Patricks church. Down the family line the Guinness clan has done a substantial amount of services to aid Dublin. Such as the 150,000 euro donation Benjamin Lee Guinness had given to restore the St. Patricks cathedral (“Archive fact sheet:,” ).  Why does the family have so much loyalty to this church? Maybe he just wanted to clean Dublin up and help in any way he could.

          Edward Cecil Guinness helped provide homes for the poor and created the Iveagh Market which included a Hostel that is said to house up to 500 homeless men (“Archive fact sheet:,” ). He had also donated 50,ooo euro  that was distributed among the hospitals in Dublin (“Archive fact sheet:,” ). Arthur Edward Guinness was responsible for the restoration of marsh’s library (“Archive fact sheet:,” ). He had also landscaped St. Stephens green and gave it as a gift to the public (“Archive fact sheet:,” ).  Rupert Edward Guinness made donations to Trinity College Dublin (“Archive fact sheet:,” ). This family had a deep sense of community. They seem to have wanted to help make Dublin the best it could be. They view they all seem to have shared is if they had happy staff the result would be the employees coming to work day after day ready and happy to put their all in producing a great product. And if they have successfully pleased the community then they have reached their consumers on a personally level which as a result make them customers for life. Aside from the abundant amount of charitable contributions the Guinness family made for Ireland they were also great business men who knew how to reach their target audience.

 

Reference:

Archive fact sheet: Guinness family achievements. (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttp://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/docs/Guinness_Family_Achievements.pdf

 

Differences Between US and Ireland

17 Apr

          Moving to a new country means adjusting to a new culture and different customs. Before leaving Boston I realized my life was going to change I just didn’t know how. While the introduction to new and foreign cultures undoubtedly greatly benefits a person, it can also be overwhelming. The new cultural elements a person encounters in Ireland may be so different that they seem “shocking” in comparison to cultural norms they are used to at home. When arriving in Dublin just over a month ago immediately I had noticed differences between Ireland and home; nothing to the extent to shocking however.  In the past 5 weeks of living in Ireland my day to day life has definitely changed, I can’t say for the better or for the worse because I find that you can’t equate the two in such a way. However, I can explain some differences I have noticed in the last month since my arrival.

                Compared to Americans the Irish are Olympic speed walkers. The first week I had arrived in Dublin I held on to my Americans ways and walked at my ‘normal’ pace. I quickly realized compared to them I was practically crawling and was in everyone’s way. Since then I have learned to pick up my pace which has made it increasingly easier to blend with the locals.

           Not only are the Irish the fastest walkers but ironically they never seem to get anywhere on time. In the U.S punctuality is a must. It is seen as rude and unprofessional to arrive late. In fact I have been taught that to be early is to be on time and to be on time is late. Now there are the exceptions of young children making it harder or your car broke down but usually in the U.S people are punctual. Now for the Irish I am beginning to learn that to be punctual is to arrive anywhere from the time they said they would be there and up to 25 minutes past that time. Even at classes people walk in fairly late and it seems like it’s a norm. In America the door is usually shut 5 minutes after the class is scheduled to start and you can’t get it once it is shut. In Ireland everything is always a 5 to 10 minute walk as well. Whenever you ask an Irishman how long of a walk a place is it is always 5-10 minutes. When in reality it is always at least double that time.

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         I have also found that pubs aren’t seen as the way as Americans think of bars. In Ireland a pub is more like a meeting area, somewhere to hang out. It is a social norm for the Irish to go to a pub mid-day and drink some coffee, read the paper, or have some lunch. It seems as though the Irish are more sociable than typical Americans. They don’t like much alone time. They rather go to a pub and chat with people. Realizing that the Irish seem to be more of a gregarious bunch it makes sense that they would like to be out and interacting instead of having some quiet time for themselves.

Ireland has had the ability to consume me with the new culture and the customs/beliefs that come within it. Being immersed in a new country with all new societal norms completely engulfs you and I believe you just have to let it. Because when you come out you’ll realize who you truly are.

 

Kilmainham Gaol

17 Apr

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                Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison located in Dublin. Today it stands as a museum that is run by the office of public works since the mid 1980’s. The kilmainham Gaol played a huge part in Irish history since many of the leaders of the Irish rebellions were imprisoned and some executed in the prison by the British and in 1923 by the Irish Free State. Taking a tour of Kilmainhal Gaol is surreal. The cold damp air flows through the prison just as it had very long ago.  One can see the cells in which men, woman and children were held in the most awful of conditions.

                Kilmainham Gaol was first built in 1796, there was no segregation of prisoners, men, woman, and children were incarcerated up to 5 in each cell. The prisoners were given with a single candle for light and heat; most of their time was spent in the cold and the dark. When the prisoners were put into the cells the first thing they were given was a bible. The candle that was given to them was a 4 inch candle that had to last the prisoner for two weeks. That means that the candle could only be lit for about ten minutes a night. There were no toilets to be found in the cells. The tour guide said that it is suspected they had to use a bucket. Afraid of disease running through the prison there was no glass on the windows. They believed that the circulation of air would prevent disease from dispersing throughout the prison; which we now know is untrue. I found it astonishing that children were sometimes being arrested for petty theft. That’s absurd. It was even crazier when I learned that the youngest said to be a five year old child!  Children, men, and women held in the same cell together all for committing different levels of severity in crimes is completely unethical. However as years passed thankfully conditions changed although it could be seen as very little improvement.

 

Citations:

http://www.tourist-information-dublin.co.uk/kilmainham-jail.htm

The Brazen Head

17 Apr

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                The brazen head is a pub near where we are residing in Ireland. It’s location is on bridge street near the Liffey. It is if not the oldest, certainly one of the oldest pubs in Dublin. The pubs history can be traced back eight centuries! It is believed to be the oldest drinking establishment in Dublin, there has been a bar on the same site since the 12th century when it was located in the medieval city with the original tavern being replaced by a coaching inn in the late 17th century. When one first enters The Brazen Head pub you first see an old courtyard which conveniently turns into a beer garden in the summer. The Brazen Head has two bars that are cluttered with old memorabilia which quite nicely reflects the bar’s history within the city.

                Pubs life in Dublin is not like how bars are in the United States. In Ireland pubs are meeting spots. They are family friendly where people go to hangout, sing, dance, and just have a little craic. This could be why The Brazen Head has played such a central role in Dublin’s history. The pub has had many famous patrons such as Irish nationalists like Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and Daniel O’Connell drinking there and Irish writers like James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan. The Brazen is a popular tourist destination. Having said that one can expect to pay a little extra for a fine pint of Guinness. Due to its popularity there is late night drinking on Thursday, Friday and Saturday every week. There are also live trad sessions every night and an early session on Sundays featuring some on the country’s finest traditional musicians. Making it a must see pub within Dublin.  If that wasn’t enough to get you in the door there is folklore and storytelling dinner entertainments. The Irish are known for their story telling what could be more perfect than a candlelit traditional Irish dinner listening to the stories of the Irish and enjoying some enchanting traditional music and ballads at The Brazen Head.

 

Citations:

http://www.brazenhead.com/

 

 

The Gathering

17 Apr

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                At first I believed the gathering was to be a celebration of the Irish culture specifically on Saint Patrick’s Day. A day in which people from all over the world celebrated their Irish roots at the homeland. It was to my surprise that the gathering in Dublin is set to bring everyone who loves Ireland back for a year of a bunch of different events. The gathering hosts competitions in everything from art to American football at which anyone can sign a team up online and take part in tournaments held in south Dublin. The slogan is “Meet To Compete,” which I find very fitting for the circumstances in which the people are gathering for. They have thirty-five sporting events, an international art competition running across fifteen countries and a chance to trace your genealogy.

                The gathering in Dublin 2013 welcomes first-timers and ex-pats to Ireland for a chance to make memories and fondly visit old ones. This truly is a time for every to celebrate being Irish and even if you have no ancestry to come and experience the history and the culture that embodies this little island. If people are connected to Ireland in some way either through genealogy, college, alumni association, business connections, or even if you are or have played for a school, college or state and would like to have you team ‘Meet To Compete’ The Gathering of Dublin 2013 is the place to do it! Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar described The gathering as “an invitation to the world to come and join in Ireland’s renewal.” The gathering is intended to bring people into Ireland. The boost in the expected tourism will generate a good amount of money for the Irish economy. Which is something they desperately need right about now. Every town and village in Ireland will be asked to participate in the events. So not only is the gathering trying to generate revenue from tourism but it’s also trying to get its citizens involved in the fun. Not only will the gathering generate up to $399 million for the Irish economy but it is also speculated to create 2,000 jobs. Which is something many people in Ireland are desperately looking for. 

 

 

Citations:

http://www.thegatheringireland.com/