Archive | November, 2013

Rome vs. Dublin

28 Nov

For my reading week I spent three days in Rome with my roommate and her sister. The minute I got off the plane I realized how different Rome was. The first thing I noticed was of course the language. It was amazing to hear all of the beautiful accents and language. As we boarded the bus the radio blared out Italian songs, and as we drove around the city I saw ancient architecture incorporated into modern buildings. That was the most amazing part of Rome. There would be a building thousands of years old directly next to a new modern apartment building. My favorite place we visited was the Colosseum it was huge, beautiful, and full of history. It was amazing to walk into such an old structure and see that it is still standing, and in good condition. The food in Rome of course was amazing and very different from Dublin food. Here in Dublin you can find almost any type of food you want, but in Rome it was almost only Italian, not that I’m complaining! Another huge cultural difference was store hours. I was so used to stores closing around nine o’clock at night, so it was amazing that most stores and markets were still open at eleven. I also noticed a much smaller homeless population, and the streets were a lot cleaner. As we continued to walk around the city I loved how vibrant the people were, always talking with their hands and chatting with people on the streets. The Italians were friendly, much like the Irish, but sometimes the men would get a little too friendly! The only other big difference I saw between Rome and Dublin was the street systems. There were few stoplights and rarely any lane dividers. The cab drivers were incredibly aggressive, and the streets always looked like a disorganized mess. In the end I love both cities and their differences. I had an amazing time wandering through the city and taking in all of the beautiful artefacts and food! Dublin is my home though, so it is nice to be back!



The Temple Bar Food Market – Caroline Dudeck

27 Nov

         Many of my blogs for Irish Life and Cultures have been based on big trips that we have taken, or interesting historical topics, so for my last blog, I wanted to focus on something modern. Not too long ago my sister and I went to Murphy’s to try some really unique ice cream flavors (like caramelized brown bread) and as we were chatting with the ice cream girls, they told us about the Temple Bar food market that takes place in Temple Bar during every Saturday from the morning until 6 pm. After hearing about all the wonderful vendors, my sister and I decided it was a must see.

            So we woke up on Saturday and headed straight to the Farmer’s Market. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I am very accustomed to the Farmer’s Market back home of just baked goods, flowers, and organic vegetables. But this was completely different. The food market takes place in the courtyard in Temple Bar near the Irish Film Institute: a quaint area ceilinged with large umbrella-like coverings. The possibilities of meals at the food market are endless. You can buy oysters, pork, chili, Indian food, baked goods, health juices and smoothies, olives, organic fruits and vegetables, cheese, jam, crepes, and there’s even a full olive, hummus, and oil bar. You can even have a nice chat with the vendors while doing so. I knew when I walked into the market that I was a fool for not finding this sooner.

            First, I was greeted by traditional Irish music, played by two men in the corner of the market. Their tunes weren’t overpowering or too loud; they added just the perfect touch of Irish culture into the market. Vendors come from all over the country and even Northern Ireland, as one of the baked good vendors is from Belfast. All of the vendors are really interested in their customers and you can tell that the food they make really comes from the heart, as some travel hours to get to the market and will alter their dishes in any way to accommodate their customers dietary needs or personal preferences.

            One of my favorite stands at the food market is the Irish apple stand. There, you can purchase the sweetest and crispiest apples in Ireland. The vendor also sells his own apple cider vinegar, cider, and syrups. I’m from the state of New York, which has some of the best apples in the country (Honeycrip anyone?!?!) , and I’ve found it really difficult making it through the fall without warm apple cider. I was pleasantly surprised when the apple man had at least twenty-gallon containers of apple cider that you can ferment yourself! So many native Dubliners walk into the market and purchase their groceries for the week, including cider that they ferment themselves. I thought this was really interesting and a great alternative to Bulmer’s!

            I also really enjoyed the cheese stand. The vendor is such a character, as we chatted about where his cheese comes from and how long certain blocks are aged for, he cuts me about five different pieces of cheese, and then 5 bigger pieces for himself. He told me which cheeses are perfect for the holiday dishes coming up, which tastes best on crackers, and what types of wine to taste with each. He also makes his own port and sherry jelly, which I will bring home to my family for Christmas.

            I love the passion amongst the vendors and all of the community at the food market. Often times I see Dublin families coming in; the children all enjoy sugar and lemon crepes, while the parents indulge in Indian samosas and purchase organic yogurt for the week. The music in the background and the smiles on everyone’s faces, vendors and customers, the Irish accents originating from all different parts of the island, and the delicious variety of organic and wholesome foods, makes the Temple Bar food market a must see (yes Donal, I mean you!) I’m happy to be heading home soon, but one of the things I will always remember and will truly miss about Dublin is the food market. I enjoyed every experience and meal I had there, as well as the charismatic friends I made.  

Life on The Inside

27 Nov

Alexi Sekmakas

Kilmianham Gial

 Yesterday Chelsea, her family and I went to visit and explore the Kilmianham Gial. We decided to go see it for the first time after many of our friends went to see it and found it very moving. I have to be honest I was not thrilled to be going to an old prison where hundreds of men were executed and thousands of people were held for large portions of their lives. However following the tour I have gained a new knowledge into the history of Ireland and am able to have a deeper, personal understanding of what went into shaping this nation.


After lunch we decided to walk to the prison from temple bar, this turned out to be much farther then we originally had anticipated and very surprisingly all uphill. I learned on the tour that the prison is actually situated on the highest point of a hill within the old limits of Dublin city to allow for maximum ventilation through natural gusts of wind. This was done in an effort to increase health within the prison and decrease disease. It was very clear right from the start of the tour that Kilmianham was not just another prison and was significant and historical for a variety of reasons. Firstly the actual structure and architecture of the prison was revolutionary for the time and employed the same strategies we use today. Secondly the people that were held there play an important role in giving this building its historical structure. Many of the prisoners were put there for committing crimes that were relatively small such as steeling a loaf of bread, or potatoes. While some of the prisoners were high profile historical heroes who died to make Ireland what it is today.


I found it very interesting how reading about the variety of prisoners and their crimes demonstrated what was happening in surrounding Ireland during that time period. For instance during the potato famine there were a large number of prisoners who committed petty crimes such as theft in an effort to put food on the table. These small crimes didn’t just involve teenagers and grown ups it is known that a number of small children some as young as five were imprisoned within Kilmianham’s walls. Our tour guide even said that some people would try to get thrown in jail in order to have a place to sleep and some food to eat. This lead to the owner of the prison to decrease prison conditions and lower the amount of food given to prisoners under the premise “when jail is nicer then the slums the jail will fill and slums will empty”. The other noticeable influx of prisoners occurred during the variety of uprisings during Irish history when the prison was filled with people who had committed high treason against the crown. Many of those people went on to be hung on the balcony in front of the prison for everyone to see, while some others were killed by a firing squad.


This might have been one of the first “modern” style prisons in which inmates were confined to independent small rooms shared with only one or two other inmates but that’s where the classification of modern ends. There was still no running water within the prison, no electricity, and no form of waste disposal. This lack of technology caused sewage build up which lead diseases to run rampant throughout the Jail.


Overall the entire experience was very somber, and informative. I did not enjoy it nor would I recommend for others to go even on an informational level. I feel this way because I think there are better ways to learn about Irelands trouble filled history. It was creepy and eerie seeing where people wasted away and were trapped for years of their lives. I understand the historical importance and why people feel like it is an important reminder about Irish history but I have no interest in ever going back or seeing the inner walls and workings of any other prison. 

Visiting Northern Ireland

27 Nov

DSC_0208 copyA few weeks ago, as an NUin program we went to Northern Ireland.  On the first day we went to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.  The first thing we visited was the Parliament.  We were given an interesting presentation on the Parliament and its history, and then we were given a tour of the building.

In 1921, the home rule act went into affect, the act known as Government of Ireland Act 1920.  This enabled Northern Ireland to create its own Parliament.  The Northern Ireland Parliament consists of two houses, the House of Commons and the Senate.  The House of Commons consists of 52 seats while the senate consists of 26 seats.  On the tour we were able to go into both the House of Common chambers and the senate chambers.  We even got to learn some of the procedures that occur.  For example, when a vote is taken it is a verbal vote.  If the vote is too close to judge, then instead of taking a more modern approach and doing an electric vote, members each walk through the hallway on either the yes side or the no side, depending on their stance.  I thought it was a very interesting way of doing it.  Our tour guide told us that the reason they still do it is so that members from different parties have to walk together with people who share their opinion.  It helps to unify people.

On our second day there we visited the Rope Bridge and Giant’s Causeway.  I enjoyed both events.  I especially found the Giant’s Causeway legend to be interesting.  The legend goes that a man Fionn Mac angers a giant, and they plan to fight.  When the giant came over, however, Fionn Mac disguised himself as a baby.  Upon seeing the “son” of Fionn Mac, the giant ran away in fright destroying the preexisting bridge and creating Giant’s Causeway.

On our final day in Northern Ireland we were given a tour of Derry.  We were able to see the impacts that the Troubles truly had on Northern Ireland, through the memorials and portraits.  It was an especially significant day because it was Remembrance Sunday.  We also visited the Bloody Sunday Museum.  Our tour guide at the museum had lost his brother that day.  It was incredibly depressing being there, but also very informative.  Even though the last day of our time in Northern Ireland was sad, overall it was still a great trip, where I learned a lot.

My Hidden Gem of Dublin

27 Nov

Coming to Ireland has been one of the best decisions I have made in my lifetime. Leaving home was bittersweet because I knew going to school in Ireland would be an awesome experience, but I also knew three months would be a long time without my family, friends…..and football. 

When home I watch football religiously every season, changing the games back and forth on the television in hope of not missing anything important from any game. For a while here in Dublin I would just try to find the games online, but then i heard of the place called The Woolshed Baa and Grill. From then on I made it a point for that to be my little piece of home here in Dublin. 


To me it is basically a hidden gem here in Dublin. The funny thing about The Woolshed is that I have been living within five minutes walking distance from it without knowing for about two months before finding it. It is located on the end of Parnell Street which is just outside of the cities center. For anyone unfamiliarized with Dublin it is an approximate ten minute walk from the Temple Bar area, and only a measly two minute walk from the front entrance of the Ilac Shopping Center. 

The name is creative because it is titled the Woolshed BAA and grill, because the wool and baa go together while their logo is a sheep. To me I really love it because being from Boston, thats how I would pronounce bar anyway, (Bah). This place is amazing and not only because it plays America Football every sunday. They have other awesome events such as Karaoke, Bingo, Quiz Night, Comedy Night and many more, which most give fun opportunities to win fantastic prizes. 

That’s not all. The food is just as good as their service. Phenomenal. It’s a large place consisting of two floors and the option of outdoor seating. Although it is a large place it has seating offers from booths like a reastaurunt to barstools in front of the giant televisions hung up throughout the entire place.It is also a very informal place and that’s my kind of style. The menu has everything on it including full meals or amazing appetizers. All portions are large and they also offer platters containing tons of every appetizer offered on the menu for a larger group for an amazing price. 


For anyone visiting, or even living in Dublin, I highly recommend you give The Woolshed Baa and Grill a try. You don’t need to be looking for anything specific because as I have explained they offer a variety of food and entertainment. What more could you ask for? I assure you won’t be disappointed. Word on the street is that there is also one located in inner-city Cork as well! But hurry up and get there early the place is popular enough to fill up quickly some nights! See you Sunday! Go Patriots! 

Croke Park

26 Nov

A few weeks ago, as an Irish Life and Cultures excursion we visited Croke Park.  I had no real knowledge of Irish sports before arriving at the park.  Initially I had actually thought we were going to a real park rather than a sports complex.  We were able to tour all over the stadium and the GAA Museum.  It was a very interesting experience.  I learned not only a lot about Irish sports, but also about the history of Croke Park, and its involvement in the fight for Ireland’s independence.

Croke Park became the Gaelic Athletic Associations Headquarters in 1913.  On November 21st, 1920, during a Dublin vs. Tipperary football game, where the proceeds of the match would be donated to the Irish Republican Prisoner Fund, a massacre known as Bloody Sunday occurred.  The night before the match, Michael Collins organized an assassination of undercover British agents in Dublin.  Fourteen British undercover agents were killed.  Soon after the match started on November 21st, British forces invaded.  British forces began shooting and killed fourteen innocent people, among them were Tipperary player Michael Hogan.  Although it was a very sad day in Irish history, it was also an instrumental one.  It overall helped to end of Irish war of independence.

Today after much renovation, Croke Park is one of the biggest stadiums in Europe.  It not only holds GAA sports, but it has held American football games as well as concerts.  One part of the tour I found particularly interesting was when our tour guide told us about the ‘hill.’  In 1917, after the destruction of the Easter Rising on O’Connell Street, the rubble from monument was brought to Croke Park to create a hill where people could see the matches better.  Since then, a terrace has been erected, where people can stand and watch the game.  Croke Park started off with just seating on two sides, but it has evolved to having three sides of seating with a side for standing.  Overall, Croke Park was beautiful, and an interesting experience.  I’m glad I was able to go.     

Work Cited:,-1920

Guinness Storehouse Blog #6

26 Nov

With the limited time I have left here in Dublin I decided to go pay a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Although I’m not the biggest Guinness fan, almost everyone you talk to tells you, “you’re in Dublin go see the storehouse!” Well I final ventured over that way and I’m grateful I did.   

            Walking through the storehouse you learn the process it takes to make Guinness. Though both television screens as well as real replications you learn how many steps and ingredients that are included in the brewing of this traditional beer. In the atrium of the building you come across a giant pint glass that if filled could hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness. While touring around all seven floors of the building located at St. James’s Gate, you learn about Guinness the beer and Guinness the company all in the location where it all began.

Not only do you learn about the beer, you also gain knowledge of the company. You discover how the product has been distributed, as well as how it is transported from the storehouse to a certain location. You also gain the knowledge of the art that Guinness has master. That art being advertising and sponsorship. Their advertising and icons are both strong symbols when one thinks of Ireland. There were a variety of television screens showing the different eras of the Guinness ads over time.


When you reach the fourth floor you become a professional Guinness pourer when you pour yourself the perfect pint of Guinness! As you continue on your storehouse journey one may be hungry after all this touring and pint pouring. So what would be better than a traditional Irish soup? The soup was delicious; it was made with Guinness stout. Finally, after you have rejuvenated you energy with some good tasting food you continue to the top floor also known as the Gravity Bar. I love taking photographs so being up there on the seventh floor gave me plenty to photograph. It was such an incredible view of Dublin, I’m definitely happy that I made it to the Storehouse before I departed Dublin!