Archive | February, 2015

History Made

28 Feb

When I was standing outside in an absurdly long queue in the frigid cold to buy a ticket for the Kilmainham Gaol I didn’t expect to have such an appreciation for the experience I was about to have. It’s one thing to hear about history, to see photos on a projected screen and be told what they mean. Although seeing it with my own eyes, feeling the cold of the cells that held so many of the characters that shaped the 1916 Easter Rising, that is an overwhelming experience. Being able to touch, feel, and retrace the past is an inconceivable feeling, to think it was only a 100 years ago and would alter the course of Irelands history forever. I felt a lot of heavy emotions passing through me coming from Irish heritage involved with the rising (Thomas Ashe), pride, sorrow, awe and a sense of realness. It was a palpable sense of history, of all that had happened, to see where they died, where they slept, where they met their end during the fight for Irelands freedom. While walking through the Gaol I really felt empowered to take it all in, to understand with the utmost clarity the significance it had in not only Irish history, but it’s very recent history. Not many times in a countries past century can an outsider see the traces of the historical events that has led to shaping it into what we see as so normal and regular nowadays. It was exactly what I would think of seeing history in the making, having that connection of understanding the past and how it has touched the future, our present.

-Grace Kollar

Wandering through Irish History

28 Feb

During my time away from Dublin for one week, I was overwhelmed by the number of people I met who were envious of my time living in this historic Irish city. Their interest in this now urban setting, dating back to potential settlements from 140 AD, reminded me of that same excitement that I feel as I awaken in this city each morning.

One of the most spectacular aspects of Dublin is its history, and this cannot be seen more clearly in any one location more than the Glasnevin Cemetery. While visiting this site, I learned about Irish figures such as Daniel O’Connell, Charles Parnell, Éamon de Valera, Sean MacBride, and many more. From this tour, I came to realize that figures such as these represent the city and the Republic of Ireland, as they fought for the country’s independence and freedom over multiple centuries.

Daniel O’Connell is one such individual who represents the freedom of Ireland. As we discussed in class, O’Connell is known for his campaigning for Catholic Emancipation. His presence can be seen today through popular Dublin street name O’Connell. The other figures listed above are all well-known political figures, with Parnell being a huge parliamentary representative, Valera having led the introduction of the Constitution of Ireland, and MacBride acting as an active member of the IRA.

Having visited this site, I have come to appreciate the history of Ireland so much more. Cemeteries may be commonplace sites found in every town and city, yet this one holds so much history, as does all of Dublin and its surrounding areas. I cannot wait to explore even more, and find out more about Irish culture as I wander.

Less Morbid than I Expected

28 Feb

Upon setting foot into Glasnevin cemetery, I was struck with the many gravestones that had celtic crosses on them. The celtic crosses to me show a part of Irish culture that I still want to learn more about. It’s been around for so long and continues to be an integral part of Irish society. A fact I found particularly interesting is that while Ireland is pre-dominantly Catholic, this cemetery is non-denominational and therefore allows anybody who wishes to be buried there. Going into a cemetery that has more bodies under our feet than there are in Dublin today is an indescribable feeling. As the tour guide leaded us between the leaders of political parties and movements to the people who fought for the freedom of Ireland, the one thought going through my mind was the history behind these people in this cemetery has filled countless books. It’s amazing how old the sites of some of the graves are dating back into the 1800s. Daniel O’Connell lies under the tallest round tower in Ireland and is among one of the most well-known Irish man in history for his work in liberating the people from the penal laws. He is an inspiration to many and his legacy is everywhere you look in Ireland today. While I have no Irish ancenstry, it is fascinating how people can find where their ancestors are buried within the grounds. Ireland continues to amaze me in how much history is still prevalent in everything around us from the buildings that have withstood centuries to the street names I walk by everyday.

-Mucia Flores

Fight, Leinster, Fight!

28 Feb

I consider myself to be a pretty enthusiastic sports fan. Watching the Patriots every Sunday (and watching them win the Super Bowl this February, cough cough) is a religious event in my family. But that enthusiasm did not prepare me for the Leinster rugby game I attended.

Although a cousin of mine plays rugby in the States, I had never seen the game played before. To me, the sport seemed like a combination of American football and soccer, minus the protective gear. I was completely amazed at how tough the players were on the field. One player even dove over his opponents, landed (audibly) hard on his back, and then stood up to get back in the game. Another thing that really struck me was how the game continued on even when a medic was tending to a beaten up player at the other end of the field. When we visited Croke Park, we were told how intense the game could get, but this was way more extreme than I had imagined. I loved it!

In class, we talked about how the Gaelic Athletic Association played a big part in the 1916 rising—the strength of the GAA added to Ireland’s patriotism. In the back of my mind, I didn’t think that a sports association could really ignite a sense of cultural nationalism to the point of liberating a country. However, looking at the crowd that was at the game proved me wrong. Every spectator at the match was completely invested. If the Irish are still completely intrigued by the sport today, I can only imagine how devoted the fans were during the beginning years. It was really cool to see how something that brought the country together so many years ago is still doing that today.

– Hanna Ciechanowski

The Graveyard on Friday the 13th

28 Feb

Glasnevin cemetery was really interesting. I was really freaked out that it was so rainy and that it was friday the 13th, but there was a lot of history there. I was surprised to hear that the cemetery started with only nine acres of land but has grown to 124 acres. The penal laws restricted Catholic services therefore creating a problem for the Catholics when it came to burying their dead. Daniel O’Connell really got the ball rolling to prove that there was no law that prevented Catholics from burying their dead in a graveyard; Glasnevin Cemetery was opened in February of 1832. Daniel O’Connell is buried in the very front of the cemetery in a large tomb with Celtic paintings and engravings. The most interesting part of the tomb was learning that Daniel O’Connells heart was not left in him but cut out and buried in the Irish College in Rome. According to his friends, that is what he requested before he died. Unfortunately, when the heart was to be moved from that place to another, it was not found. After learning all about Daniel O’Connell and his life, we toured the rest of the well-known figures graves and heard some interesting stories about grave robbers. My favorite story was about a woman who was buried, but when grave robbers tried to steal her ring off of her finger they found her alive. She climbed out of her grave and went home to her husband. When she actually did die her tombstone said something to the effect that she died once and was buried twice. Although I didn’t think I would enjoy the cemetery, I was pleasantly surprised by the funny stories and interesting facts.

-Emily Jones

Showing Off a Bit

24 Feb

It’s one thing to get through the day-to-day in a city by yourself; it’s quite another to guide others through it.

This past weekend brought my first visitors to Dublin—well, sort of. A close friend of mine who is studying in Rome told me that his girlfriend—whom I’d met only a few times—and her friend—whom I’d never met, despite our being in the same service group—were going to be in Dublin, and he asked if he could give them my info so they could get a (relatively) local perspective on the city. No problem!

I met up with Sam and Chelsea at the Brazen Head Friday night for some Irish music, and after some small talk, they pulled out their itinerary for the next day and asked me what they had to see. Well! I looked over it, pointing out along the way all the places I’d gone and giving my review, and then telling them the places on my list that I’d heard were good. “That museum is on prettier grounds, but this one has better exhibits;” “Yes, there’s this amazing statue if you make a left on that street;” “I don’t know about for breakfast, but there’s this great café just a block over…” When the live music began, I could sing along to at least some of the words to a few songs, including “Alive, Alive Oh.” When we met for drinks after dinner on Saturday, I was able to show at least a little geographical knowledge of the city, as well as the intuition to know which bars in Temple Bar would be ‘worth it’ and which would be too packed for them.

But Sunday, I was really able to show off: the night before, Sam and Chelsea asked me about churches, and I gave them the name and street of the place I like to go. We met up at mass Sunday morning, and then I walked us to a little café for breakfast. Sam pulled out a little guidebook of Europe and flipped it to the first page of Ireland, which had a map. After pointing to where our families originated all those generations ago, Sam asked me about the dotted line dividing Ireland from Northern Ireland. “That’s the partition,” I explained, “the North is part of the UK.”

“Really?!” Sam exclaimed. I nodded and began to get into the briefest history of Ireland, which turned out to be (mostly) accurate. As we toured Dublin Castle, I was again surprised by how much I knew going in, or how many figures I could at least place on a vague timeline when the guide mentioned their connection to the Castle. It was nice to see friends, but it was also nice to get a chance to exercise my knowledge of Ireland.

This brief encounter with other Americans allowed me to gauge my relationship with Ireland. Of course, I’m no local, not by any measure. But I’m learning and growing more and more comfortable with being briefly a part of this city and country, and that’s all I can ask for.

The Indian Boy

19 Feb

Tonight, I went to Ireland’s National Theater, the Abbey Theater. We saw a retirement home version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now, if this makes you imagine old people running around dressed up like fairies, you are quite accurate. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Admittedly, I have never actually seen or read this particular play or most of the plays from the man who gave the world my name. So it was a little hard to follow its early modern English dialogue at first but I got used it. My favorite character was the Indian boy (I’m not being racist, that’s the name of the character). When he was with the fairies, he never spoke, and he was happy to follow around the fairy queen. His character seemed insignificant but it was he that Oberon and Titania were fighting about in the first place! So most of the mess was because of him! At one point he did a handstand in the background; most people probably didn’t even see it. His smooth movement from ground to chair were complimented by his abrupt fall from said chair after. The competition for my favorite character grew tight when one of the old men came out dressed as a woman. Tighter yet when the moon (a man in an American astronaut suit with a lamp) explained his role (“I represent the moon”). But the Indian boy came out with jingle bells on his ankles and danced like a cartoon elf, he stole my heart once again.

-Jessica Mall