Archive | October, 2014

Aran Sweaters

31 Oct

In the beginning of October we had the privilege of exploring the beautiful coast of Western Ireland. We toured the great city of Galway, hopped on a ferry to the Aran Islands, and finished the trip with an exquisite view of the infamous Cliffs of Moher. ‘Breathtaking’, ‘mesmerizing’, and ‘majestic’ were among the many adjectives used to describe this adventure.

Upon my arrival in Galway I was instantly attracted to the authentic-like nature of the city. It perfectly emulated my previous idea of a typical Irish city. I also noted how drastically different it was to Dublin. There was a lot less diversity in Galway including both ethnically and commercially. I noticed a decrease in the number of ethnic food choices and an increase in the number of traditional Irish pubs and restaurants. I had a rather difficult time understanding the local Irish folk in Galway, as there accents seemed much stronger than those in Dublin. In addition, I also heard a good amount of people speaking Irish. I found this quite intriguing due to my recent knowledge that Irish is rarely spoken compared to English.

On day two, I, along with my fellow comrades, journeyed to the Aran Islands via ferry. In short, the Aran Islands were drop-dead gorgeous. I was fascinated by the colonial-like feel and simplicity of the islands. It was interesting observing an Irish country lifestyle as opposed to a big city lifestyle like Dublin. Less than 1,200 people live on the Islands collectively, but they remain as one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland. I decided to fully partake in that tourism and purchased my very first Aran sweater. It later came to my knowledge that Aran sweaters are world renowned for their wool and unique sewing patterns. Needless to say I’m sure to flaunt my sweater whenever I wear it.

Finally, we ended our adventure with visiting the Cliffs of Moher. Surprisingly, I didn’t fall over. The views were indescribable. It was both humbling and exciting getting to experience something so Iconic. I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to end my trip.


-Evan Candler


The Irish Language in the Technological Age

30 Oct

My favorite part of the study weekend to the west was visiting Inis Mor. The island was rich with history, beautiful landscapes, and of course culture. Perhaps one of most apparent cultural markers was the fact that this is a Gaeltacht, an area where Irish is spoken as the primary language. I witnessed this first-hand, with our bus driver conversing with Donal and also with local teenagers riding around on their bikes and speaking loudly.

The big issue with Irish is that it’s a dying language. I’ve learned in my linguistics class that there are two different kinds of death a language can go through: murder and suicide. In Irish, originally it seemed to be much more of a language murder from the English, but more recently it’s own people are killing the language, so it has become a suicide.

The amount of daily speakers hovers around 35% of the Irish population, depending on which statistic you look at. There has been an increase in the amount of speakers, due to organizations such as the Conradh na Gaeilge. This one in particular aims at awareness and education within the country to bring about more Irish speakers.

I talked to a girl I know from Donegal about being from a Gaeltacht region. She said that most people speak Irish in their homes, but kids and teenagers only use English to text, email, Facebook, etc. I found this really surprising. We are living in a technological age, but it seems as though the language hasn’t caught up.

I’ve looked online trying to find games or videos that would be fun for kids to use to facilitate them in learning the language, but what I found was surprisingly sparse. Is technology aiding in the suicide of the language by the Irish? There are videos for everything online, but the ones aimed at Irish are poorly done or not in the right level for children. I really believe that the best way to continue the growth of the language is to aim it at the youth, and there is no better way to do that than have it fun and interactive. I know, I’m 20 years old and I’ve found myself watching a Netflix series on sign language because they make it fun.

We’re living in a technological world and it seems as though Irish hasn’t caught up to that. In order for the language to continue spreading, there needs to be a greater focus in selling it in a way that kids are going to want to learn it. If kids are resorting to English to in Gaeltachts, where the language is the mostly widely used, then kids around other areas of the country aren’t going to want to use it in any form of speech.

It would be really interesting to see where the language is in twenty years time. Will technology continue to derail it, or will there be an initiative to promote it more to the younger generations using the technology they are interested in?

-Grace McDavid

The Beautiful West of Ireland

30 Oct

When people think of Ireland, they often picture an area with broken stonewalls, sheep, and cliffs. In Dublin, however, this is not true. Dublin is a city with large buildings and a lot of people in a hurry to get where they need to be. But going into Western Ireland, I saw something much more similar to the cliché vision of Ireland.
Initially, the Aran Islands were phenomenal, and the one we visited (Inishmore) captured what many would consider to be the typical Irish landscape. There were stonewalls everywhere. These stonewalls were built back in Medieval times. A family would start off with one large piece of land surrounded by a wall, but as the children married, they would get their own piece of land within the larger area, therefore dividing the land into even smaller sections and even more walls. These islands are also known for their wool, and the wool comes from all of the sheep. There were also amazing views from some of the cliffs on the island, and the only way you could look directly down was by lying on your stomach. As a person who suffers from acrophobia, this was a frightening feat, but I still did it. One of the other charming factors of this island was the lack of modernization. The island only got electricity within the past few decades. It’s a nice island to just get away from the fast-paced, modern society. The Aran Islands were phenomenal.
Another amazing site of Western Ireland are the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are known worldwide for their amazing views. At this site, there is also a fort used to look out and guard the island. I will never forget these sites and also the wind!
From the fields of Inishmore to the Cliffs of Moher, Western Ireland was the stereotypical idea of what Ireland looks like—beautiful.

~Liesl Chapin

A wonderful trip to the west

28 Oct

A few weeks ago we explored the west of Ireland seeing fascinating places like Galway, The Cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands.These places were wonderful in so many different ways. More than just the gorgeous landscape it was almost like seeing the real Ireland. I am not saying Dublin is any less Irish than Galway, but Galway was a very traditionally Irish town where Dublin has a wider variety of people giving it new cultures and tastes. Galway is not nearly as big as Dublin either so there is not as many people to create a variation in cultures. For being such a small scale city there was so much to see a do there doing both the night and day. Interesting street performers, cute little shops and boutiques and the ever so busy pub life. It was just interesting to see a different side of Ireland and the way that they do things. The Cliffs of Moher was another incredible experience; it is insane that Mother Nature was able to create something so beautiful. The cliffs stood so tall and strong, bearing each crash of the ocean. On this adventure we also got to see the Aran Islands, this was very interesting because of the people and how they live. What struck me was that many of the locals chose to speak Irish instead of English, that is a true appreciation for their roots. There wasn’t much to the island in stores or restaurants but it was not lacking in gorgeous scenery or culture. Overall this study tour to the west was a great experience that showed me a different side of this wonderful country.

-Brianna Kempisty

My Trip to Croke Park

27 Oct

I thought the trip to Croke Park was a very cool experience. I found it amazing learning about the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) and how the players are amateurs playing simply because they love the game. It is crazy when you compare it to professional athletes in the US and consider that many of them are getting paid millions. We learned that the players in the GAA are just as dedicated to their sport, just as popular as these American athletes, but the only thing that makes them amateurs is the fact they play for free. The GAA athletes have full time jobs but still train, practice, and play these sports essentially at a professional level.

We learned primarily about the two most popular sports in GAA, Gaelic Football and Hurling. If they had to be compared to American sports, Gaelic Football would be similar to Rugby, and Hurling would be similar to a combination of Lacrosse and Baseball. Our tour guide explained that it has been open since 1913 and since its renovation in 2004 it can now hold over 82,000 people. It is definitely the largest stadium I have been in and I can only imagine how intense would be playing there during an All-Ireland Final when it is filled to capacity with screaming fans. I found the dedication these players had and work ethic very impressive and admirable. It seems more meaningful to these players since they almost always play for their home team and they are in some aspects just ordinary people with normal full time jobs playing these sports at such a competitive level.

Our tour guide also explained how if a player moved and could no longer play for their home team they can still play for a new team where they moved and that the GAA sports are expanding all over. There are now teams from London as well as New York that can compete for an All-Ireland Final because there is such a high concentration of people playing there. Croke Park does not only host GAA events however. They also host international concerts and all kinds of different sporting events. I definitely want to revisit Croke Park for a real event before I leave Ireland because it is an incredible stadium.

-Ben Downey

The Catwalk by Carly Hicks

25 Oct

While we were in Derry London Derry (If you are being politically correct) during the trip to the north, we took an awesome walking tour of the main city; or as our guide called it: My gorgeous city. The tour was awesome! The guide was very enthusiastic and dedicated to his city. While we were on the tour, we walked the wall surrounding the city center. The wall was beautiful and there was not a lot of people there, so perfect for our very large group. We learned so much on that tour but the one thing that stuck out to me to most was the promenade of men and women back in the olden times. What they would do is the lord would take his lady on the wall for a walk. He would have her place her hand on top of his and he would hold on to her pinky finger and this is how they would walk the wall. During these walks, there would be other men sitting around the wall and they would cat call to the women. So as they WALKed along the wall, these men would CAT call at the ladies. Hence the birth of the catwalk.

As a result of me learning this new bit of information, I decided that it would only be necessary to do my own rendition of a catwalk on the wall; you know, to truly feel like they did back in the day. So once the rest of the group got a little ways ahead, I unleashed my inner celebrity and strutted my stuff down the catwalk. And boy, let me tell you, did I feel like a superstar. No wonder the Lords and Ladies liked to walk there! Its the perfect place to do something like that. It was definitely a highlight of my trip.

Howth Trip.

25 Oct

Since I was not able to go to the Northern Ireland, I am going to write about the Howth trip.

In the beginning of September when we were just getting to know Ireland we went to a place really close to Dublin called Howth. It took us only about 30 minutes to get there from Dublin, but the scenery was absolutely  different. As we got out of  the train I could smell the sea and hear sea gals flying around.The area of Howth is really hilly. We were walking around climbing hills observing the beautifulness of that place from the hight. We saw a fortress, it must have been there for a long time.

As we got back to the town itself we decided to have a lunch. I stood in a line for about half an hour to get my crab hamburger, but it absolutely worth it! We decided to eat our linch right pier to observe the sea. But we did not expect to meet three seals swimming around and steering at us just like we were. I have never seen seals in nature before, so I got a lot of emotions and told all of my frieda about that.Now I have probably a hundred of seal pictures.

Anna Drozdova.