Archive | December, 2014

So many memories – Paul McCusker

11 Dec

Really cant believe that our time in Ireland is coming to an end. Feels like just yesterday I was looking out the plane window leaning over to Rockwood saying “wow this shits real”. I have learned no many things and been able to experience so many things since ive been over here and not one of them will go unremembered. At the start of the semester I began a video blog, basically to make memories for later of all the things that we did while we were over here. These videos are amazing reminders of all the great things that Ireland has had to offer and I will not forget one single thing.

I really want to touch on working in Ireland. Unlike most of the students who are studying here that are a select few of us who actually get to work in local Irish companies. I work for GeneFile, under the supervision of a man name Gerry. This has been one of the most culturally immersive parts of my time here in dublin. Walking into the office and having a twenty minute long discussion about how my days been or how my studies are going comes as a shock to a high paced New Englander. The laid back atmosphere of the office and Gerrys easy going attitude made the workplace something that became a stress free environment but also a place to learn a great deal about Irish culture. We refer to this as uncertainty avoidance, Americans cant deal with uncertainty, they need concrete ideas and a direction or they will struggle. Ireland has changed me I can now be less worried when plans change or something doesn’t go the way I thought it was going to.\

Otherwise, this is goodbye! I have enjoyed spending Wend evenings with the gang in Castle House and will always remember the great trips around Ireland. Also cant forget the singing!

Thanks!!

Bog: The perfect place to hide a body?

7 Dec

Before coming to Ireland I didn’t know how big of a thing bogs were. Back home in the states, my uncle is a cranberry farmer, which is done on a bog, but that has been my only experience with them. FIE sent us to a farm our first weekend in Ireland where we had the opportunity to jump in a bog if wanted to. I didn’t and it is one of my bigger regrets since I’ve been abroad because I have learned so much about them since then, I wish I allowed myself to experience it. The national museum was extremely cool because of the bog people they found. The perfectly preserved bodies on display have a very eerie air about them and it is so hard to believe they are thousands of years old. I thought it was interesting how the men were all murdered, most of them being wealthy and in spots of power. None of the people in the museum were women or poor, which is interesting. Did people store bodies in bogs more frequently than the ones we have found? Did the people of the time dig up more bodies and these are the ones that were left?

I’ve also come across people dying in bogs in a few different occasions. The first was when we went to see Sive at the Abbey Theatre. At the end of the play, the girl Sive ended up committing suicide by throwing herself in the bog. If you were to ask me, that seems like an awful way to die. So slow and painful. That directly opposite of all of the bog men, they were murdered first, then hid in the bog, and they were all men of wealth while she was a poor girl. The second time I have come across bogs is with the book “Bog Child.” I picked this up from a friend as a possible book to have in my classroom when I’m a teacher, but it is about a boy who finds a girl dead in a bog in the time of the Troubles. I can’t wait to read it to see if it aligns more with the ancient bodies found who were sacrificed or more with the story of Sive.

-Grace McDavid

And Now the End is Near, and I Face the Final Curtain (or: An Ignorant American’s view on Irish Politics, Generally)

3 Dec

In my junior year of high school (three years ago, it doesn’t feel like that!) I joined the debate team after failing to register properly and being forcibly assigned it by my counselor. Luckily, I took to it like a duck to water. In a few short months I was brought up to Varsity, and ended up being one of the highest ranking members by the end of the year. But more than teaching me the communication skills I will use for the rest of my life, Debate class was the first time I had really been exposed to politics. That habit has thankfully stuck with me, and I continue to try to be as up to date as possible on current events at home and around the world. So when I came to Ireland, I was excited to be able to discover a whole new source and perspective on news. And Ireland did not disappoint. Part of it was hilarious as only an outside perspective on politics can be. Some of the things that various TD’s or Enda Kenny said that splashed the headlines were laughable, yet made all the funnier knowing that if some Congressmen had made the same comment, it would have barely made the pack panel of some blog. And yet some parts were actually quite engaging. I never thought I would ever find water rights interesting, yet that was the hot button issue during my stint here. It really brings to the forefront the omnipresent issues of government’s reach and the ability to market basic human needs. Also, some of the majority view points here and radically different than the U.S. Back home, pro-Palestine protests are ignored or even blocked from happening. As somebody who was always been vehemently pro-Israel – I want to join the IDF one day – it was a humbling experience to live in a state that has always come down on the other side. All in all, it was an eye opening experience to get a view into an entirely different political theater.

The North/South Divide

1 Dec

Many people know about Northern Ireland and how it is part of the United Kingdom as opposed to the Republic of Ireland. However, not many people know why. When I visited the North with my classmates about a month ago I discovered (in very great detail) exactly why Northern Ireland remains under English rule.

Coined as “The Troubles,” Ireland was under great strife from 1968 to 1998 (officially). It was a struggle that is still very pertinent to this day. To put it simply: it was a struggle between the Protestant and Catholic people of Northern Ireland. However, it was much more complex than that. People who called themselves Protestants were generally unionists, loyalists, and would call themselves British. Those who identified as Catholic would normally identify as nationalists, republicans, and call themselves Irish. These two sides fought on numerous accounts for the duration of the 29 years, and, although on much smaller scales, continue to fight into today. These disputes include the Battle of the Bogside, Bloody Sunday, the Hunger Strikes, and countless riots and fights. Eventually, peace walls were established to end violence within cities that had strong Protestant and Catholic inhabitants. The most famous peace wall can be found in Belfast. People from all across the world write on this wall, asking the Irish to bring peace amongst themselves. The gates, however, are still locked tight at 7pm every night and remain that way until 7am the next morning.

While in Northern Ireland, my fellow classmates and I were given tours on each side of Belfast’s peace wall, as well as a tour of Derry/Londonderry. Thanks to our tour guides, this religious divide is very evident in today’s world. A Protestant tour guide will tell you that it was entirely the fault of the Catholics for the troubles, while a Catholic will tell you the exact opposite. This begs the question: when will The Troubles truly end?

– David Byron