Archive | December, 2013

blog 6

16 Dec

I find it incredibly strange, yet fascinating, that literature often represents Ireland as a “poor old woman,” or sean bhean bhocht in Irish. It seems that a country wouldn’t want a frail, poor woman to represent it, yet the symbol matches the history of Ireland: it’s been taken advantage of by other nationalities several times.

Yeats’s play Cathleen ni Houlihan tells an interesting yet short description of the poor old woman and, in doing so, expresses nationalism. The woman is described as “the strange woman that goes through the country whatever time there’s war or trouble coming” (http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/26361/). The woman’s speech is very interesting. She declares: “I have travelled far, very far; there are few have travelled so far as myself, and there’s many a one that doesn’t make me welcome…. Sometimes my feet are tired and my hands are quiet, but there is no quiet in my heart. When the people see me quiet, they think old age has come on me and that all the stir has gone out of me. But when the trouble is on me I must be talking to my friends.” She answers that she has been wandering because there are strangers that have taken her “four beautiful green fields,” which are meant to represent the four provinces of Ireland.

Yeats also shows an interesting juxtaposition between the two generations through the response to the woman. The son declares that he’d rather not a stranger come in before his wedding, but the mother responds: “Open the door, Michael; don’t keep the poor woman waiting.” Michael is at first uneasy of the woman, yet he is transfixed by her song and story. She doesn’t want food, drink, or money; instead, she speaks only of meeting her friends that will help obtain her fields. Those that help her, she says, “shall be remembered for ever,
they shall be alive for ever,
they shall be speaking for ever,
the people shall hear them for ever.”

Bridget contrasts this woman to a “stout fresh woman” that was seen at a market; thus, Ireland is not stout or fresh. Yet the stubbornness of the Irish people and its civil war does not seem to equate with a poor old woman. Yeats shows a different view of the character at the end of his play, whenever Patrick says he sees not an old woman but “a young girl, and she had the walk of a queen.” This transformation of the woman is so fascinating to me because it shows different aspects of Ireland: yes, the country and its people have been mistreated and mocked, yet it maintains its dignity and pride in walking like a queen. The country may seem so old, yet its people are fresh at heart and draw in others like Michael to the cause. Therefore, I think Yeats’s play offers an accurate portrayal of Ireland herself, encompassing both her history and her character.

Advertisements

Dublinia – Austin Scheerer

13 Dec

Over Reading week, I went to the Dublinia Museum. I’ve been very interested in the Vikings for years so it was really cool to go see a museum about them, especially when it’s in a city that was founded by the Vikings. Walking through I quickly realized that while everything was very cool and well done, I already knew the majority of the facts. They did have some helmets and stuff that you could put on. They were incredibly heavy. Going upstairs brought me to the Medieval Ireland section, a time period I’m more unfamiliar with than the vikings, but not much different from medieval life around Europe. There were helmets here too which were fun as well. It was a very nice museum experience and informative as well. If I’m ever in Dublin again, I will gladly go. 

Natural History Museum – Austin Scheerer

13 Dec

Earlier this month myself and some of my friends paid a visit to Dublin’s Natural History Museum. Sans Dinosaurs, it had seemingly everything. As you walked into the first room, you were greeted by skeletons of Ancient Irish Elk that lived about 7,700 years ago at the latest and let me tell you, those things were HUGE. They were the same size as a modern moose at the very least and their antlers were terrifying. about the size of manholes, with  spikes. The wingspan must have been 6 feet or something. There were more Elk skulls and antlers on the walls and there were even bigger and sharper ones. Imagine seeing them charge you. I don’t even want to think about it. The rest of the room was filled with stuffed animals, bugs, crustaceans, fish etc. Pretty much every kind of common woodland or ocean animal was in there.

In the second room upstairs, there were more exotic animals. Monkeys, apes, seals, lions, bats etc. They had plaster models of a hippo, walrus, and giraffe. They also had a stuffed Tasmanian Wolf, which are now extinct, so that was cool to see. Another animal that was kind of funny is what the staff call the “smiling hedgehog.” It’s just a normal stuffed hedgehog, but the way it was made makes it look like its smiling. There were upper levels as well, but they were closed when we went.

It was a really cool museum and had some really awesome specimens. The only thing that could have made it better was dinosaurs. But hey, what are you gonna do?

poor quality pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/101552135@N08/sets/72157638207124104/

The Gaiety Theatre

12 Dec

About a month or so ago, I got to see a play at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. My drama professor brought our class to see Waiting for Godot. The play is extremely philosophical once you analyse it until you feel as if your brain is going to burst. The actors did not do a very good job of the play, BUT I feel as though Waiting for Godot is a play that can’t be acted out; it’s too philosophical, and seeing it acted out takes out the meaning.

The Gaiety Theatre was designed by C.J. Phipps in 1870. The theatre was built in about seven months, and officially opened on November 27, 1871. In 1883, the theatre had an add-on by architect Frank Matcham, but the theatre remained Victorian in charm. The Gaiety Theatre is Dublin’s oldest theatre that continues to put on plays and operas.

When I went to the theatre I noticed there were hand prints on the ground beneath the theatre’s awning, and I assumed it was for famous people who acted in plays in Gaiety Theatre. The bronze hand prints found at the theatre include performers such as Niall Toibin, Maureen Potter, John B. Keane, and Luciano Pavarotti.

  

The Gaiety Theatre is also a nightclub on Fridays and Saturdays; they have live bands on every floor, and is the latest-opening non-private nightclub in the city. (Sounds fun!)

The theatre itself was beautiful, inside and out (cliché, I know). The red velvet seats matched with the curtains on stage, and the acoustics in the theatre were pretty great. I have been to Broadway shows, and those theatres are humongous and equally beautiful, but the Gaiety Theatre is quite small. Its size is perfect because there’s intimacy between the audience and the actors; the space is small, and you are able to experience and see more than you would in a bigger theatre. I would love to see another play at the Gaiety Theatre, preferably one that won’t make my brain hurt, or make me fall asleep.

Trinity College and The Book of Kells

12 Dec

When I found out I got into this study abroad program in Dublin, Ireland, my family and friends bombarded me with places to see and things to do. The most common recommendation was The Book of Kells at Trinity College. I’ve walked by Trinity’s campus multiple times, but had never gotten the chance to take a tour.

As I walked around Trinity College’s campus, I noticed the architecture of the buildings. It reminded me of the White House in Washington D.C., probably because of the columns. The campus was so lively and beautiful, but as I made my way to the library, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. You’re probably thinking WHY I was nervous. The Book of Kells is one of the oldest known books in history, and Trinity’s library holds thousands of books in its shelves. I was about to walk into that library; a library filled with books that are 10 times my age. The Book of Kells is ancient, and I was about to see it. I walked down The Long Room, which holds about 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books.

The fact that I was in the Long Room and saw the Book of Kells is utterly amazing. I’m not sure what I was expecting on my tour, but seeing such an old artefact exhilarated me. 680 pages of the book survived, and two out of the 680 lacked any artistic embellishments. The Book of Kells told stories through drawings and it is probably one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen. It’s amazing seeing the book and thinking this is how people communicated; this was their entertainment and reading. It’s a bit odd to think that this book, a source of stories, is now history, but the people who contributed to this book did not think that the book they made would be one of the most famous books in the world. The Book of Kells is full of history, and an artefact as such informs us of how people lived, and how we have evolved.

I am one of the luckiest people alive; I got to see the Book of Kells, and I got to wander through the vast Library, looking through thousands of books that I would never have time to read in my lifetime. Walking around the Trinity Library is an experience everyone should have when they find themselves in Ireland; it is a must-see!

 

-Sydney Wilson

Our Visit to Croke Park

11 Dec

Croke Park, the GAA’s principal stadium and headquarters, towers over northeast Dublin. The Park is much more than a field surrounded by stadium seating. It has been a piece of Irish history and culture since its construction almost 130 years ago. On Friday, November 1st, we toured it; inside and out.

We were running late. After dodging Dublin traffic and sprinting up the steps of Connolly station, we finally met up with the rest of the group (only a few minutes late). From Connolly Station, we walked to Croke Park, maybe a fifteen minute walk through the streets of Dublin 2. As you approach the Park, the mammoth building casts a shadow over the buildings and onto the streets where we were walking. After entering Croke Park, our tour started by giving us a comprehensive history of the park and of Gaelic Sports in general. Having already been to the GAA mobile seminar, I had learned a bit about Gaelic Sport history and its role in Irish society. The tour then led us through the inside facilities of the park: locker rooms, the post game lounge, and warm-up rooms. All of this was very interesting, but the best part of the tour was yet to come. As we walked out of the warm-up room and into a small hallway, the light at the end signalled that we were going outside. I stepped out, and found myself level with the green field of Croke Park. 360 degrees around, stadium seating towered over me. It is one thing to hear about a place or even see pictures, but truly another to actually be there. Standing where 130 years of history had helped to define a nation was awe-inspiring. The 1920 Bloody Sunday Massacre is an especially significant event, not only in the history of Croke Park, but of Ireland as a whole.

Visiting Croke Park was much more than simply sightseeing where the All-Ireland Final is played and major concerts are held. Visiting the Park was taking a peek directly into Irish history.

Brazen Head

11 Dec

Once in Dublin I learned that the oldest pub in Dublin is Brazen Head. Of course this meant I had to visit Brazen Head to watch a sports game, or for a meal. I first went to Brazen Head to watch a hurling game and have dinner; then I realized why Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Dublin. The food was fantastic! I ordered bangers and mash, which is sausage and mashed potatoes, they were perfect. Later on, as a group, a few friends and I went to Brazen Head just to enjoy some quality time. This time around, a few locals began chatting with us about America and how life differed from the United States to Dublin. After about thirty minutes of talking, they joined us for drinks and invited us to watch a soccer game with them at the bar. This clearly showcased how friendly and inviting the atmosphere is at Brazen Head. Lastly, I had to go back for a third time when my parents were in town because the food was delicious and they have a plethora of food and drink options to choose from, and the atmosphere was phenomenal. Moreover, who wouldn’t want to visit the oldest pub in Dublin? The Brazen Head definitely lives up to the hype and I can clearly see why they have been in business for such a long time, and have made a name for themselves. I can foresee myself having cravings for Brazen Head food once I return to the United States, but sadly, the United States does not have a restaurant that could live up to, or compare to, the Brazen Head.