Archive | March, 2015

Northern Ireland Experience

31 Mar

Our trip to Northern Ireland was by far one of the most interesting trips I had been on during my time in Ireland. I use the word interesting because the trip ranged from simple and normal activities to frightening and exciting activities. I really had to no idea what to expect from this trip because I was sick and I didn’t think the Galway trip could be topped up.

Starting from Belfast, I thought the views of the Protestant and Catholic men were very attention-grabbing. They seemed very passionate about their views on religion and I really like the history behind their stories. I was really surprised that the wall dividing both sides is still up because I imagined that they would both groups would get along by now but that would be the case in a perfect world I guess. The parliament was a great visit because it is such an official building and I learned about the history of the parliament and the ancient rooms that are inside the building. My favorite part of the parliament visit was the glass box with gifts from different people all around the world. The gift that caught my interest was the Tiffany’s box because what girl doesn’t like a Tiffany’s boxJ.

Next up is Carrick Island and the Rope Bridge, visiting the island was by far my favorite activity of the whole weekend. I really liked Carrick Island because it was challenging for me, challenging in the sense that I had to cross the rope bridge to get to the island. When I looked down at the bridge, my first thought was “that is such a short distance,” but as I got closer to the bridge I understood why the bridge was so significant. The bridge may have been a short distance but it was nerve racking for me. I was actually terrified of the bridge because when I was on the bridge the wind was blowing really hard and this made the bridge shake. The bridge was already unsteady and terrifying but with the wind, I was beyond scared. I tried hard not to look down which was hard to do, but regardless of my fear I was glad I experienced the bridge because it lead to the beautiful cliffs. After the Island, we went to the Giant Causeway which I liked because of the hexagon rocks.

Finally, I really liked our visit to Londonderry, mainly because of our amazing and hilarious tour guide. I really enjoyed his stories and his fascination of his city, his love for the city made the city an exciting place to tour. I believe that my experience at Londonderry was a great one because we had a guide who has lived in the city his whole life and has experienced the positive and negative times that the city had. Learning about Bloody Sunday was very touching for me and it gave me a new appreciation for to Ireland’s history.

-Esther Dada

National Museum

31 Mar

This past Friday I was able to go to the National Museum of Ireland to explore its history. It had a large amount of historical artifacts and many different sections. There were sections varying from religious objects to ancient gold jewelry to human sacrifice. I especially found the Viking Ireland Exhibition interesting considering how much of it we have covered in class. It gave me the ability to connect the artifacts I saw with the Viking invasion. In this exhibition there was one specific piece, which caught my eye. It was a Brian Boru harp bracelet dating back to 1850. The bracelet was decorated with shamrocks all around the silver band with a traditional harp in the center. Ireland is the probably the only country with a musical instrument, a harp, as its national emblem. The importance of the harp begins centuries back. It is said to have probably dated back to the 15th century possibly later with the harp being the most popular instrument. It has been associated with Brian Boru since the 18th century because he was a very famous King that was known for playing harp. The oldest surviving harp is the one in Trinity College on display known as the Brian Boru harp from the 15th century. The harp is widely present now on official documents, the Presidential Seal, on Irish Euro coins, and as a symbol for many different organizations and corporations embracing their Irish roots. The Brian Boru harp bracelet was not the only harp related object in the museum. There was also a small silver harp brooch dating back to 1850 in the Viking section, and there was a large wooden harp in the music section representing the harp music that was usually played in celebrations and events. I greatly enjoyed my time in the National Museum. -Mucia Flores

National Museum

31 Mar

This past Friday I went to the Museum of Natural History in Ireland. It was a really interesting place to visit. I feel like I really learned a lot about the history of Ireland. The piece that caught my eye was the Lurgan Logboat. The Logboat is an extremely long, wooden canoe that was discovered by Patrick Coen in Galway in 1901. The boat was carved from a giant oak tree and is over 45 feet long. It is said to be the largest artifact on display in the National Museum of History. It took almost a month to bring the canoe from Lurgan bog to Milltown railway where the members of the town came to visit the boat before it was finally delivered to Dublin. The tree was carved into the canoe shape with just axes and fire. This must have taken these prehistoric men and women a lot of time considering how large and thick the canoe is. This artifact was one of the focal points at the museum, because it was so big. The boat is not specific to Irish culture, though several logboats have been found close to the shore of Ireland. I picked this artifact, because it was huge and interesting. it really caught my eye when I started walking around the museum. After researching about the boat itself, I really thought that it was incredible how the ancestors created this boat and spent so long on it.

Emily Jones

Old and New

30 Mar

About a week ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Bilingual Spoken Word Event at the Irish Writers Centre. The event was part of the Five Lamps Arts Festival, which I work for as an intern. I signed up to volunteer at this event not expecting it to be as impactful as it was. I was unaware of the extent to which it would stun me. SScreen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.26.23 PMo, I hopped on the bus to Parnell Square West and entered the doors of the Irish Writers Center, an unassuming building located next to the well-established Hugh Lane Gallery. I was sent upstairs to where the event would be held. Upstairs, the young performers were casually hanging out and chatting before the night began. The scene was pretty typical until I realized that these young adults were speaking in an English-Irish hybrid. It caught me off guard. I found myself just staring at these cool, artsy twenty-year-olds. At 7:30pm, people began to fill the room. To my surprise, a large group of sixty to seventy-year-olds took their seats near the front. The range of ages in the audience was incredible; from young artsy kids, to preppy looking middle-aged parents, to older folks. As soon as the performance began, I realized the common thread that connected these groups—love for the Irish language.

The MC of the night walked up to the microphone and began casually speaking in fluent Irish. The audience was completely receptive. I would say that at least 87% of the audience spoke Irish. They laughed at her jokes and nodded in contentment. This continued as the artists performed their pieces. Most of them were spoken in Irish, while only a few were spoken in English. I sat in the audience, completely stunned by this experience. Although I couldn’t understand 90% of what was being said, the night still felt very familiar. I have gone to my fair share of spoken word nights in Portland so I wasn’t expecting this one to be any different. It was extremely different, but also similar. The energy felt very familiar. The only difference was that I was experiencing an old language being used in a very modern setting. While I was sitting in the crowd, I realized that the audience was a manifestation of this concept, the integration of young and old. I feel very grateful to have been able to experience such different groups of people being united by the ancient language, even if that meant being completely oblivious for a few hours.

St. Patrick’s Day: An unusual celebration

28 Mar

Written by Belen Gimenez

Starting as a celebration done by the Irish who emigrated to the U.S, St. Patrick’s Day is now a huge motive of celebration not only in Ireland, but also in other many parts of the world. The celebrations started as a way for the Irish to feel connected to their roots after moving to the U.S. However, nowadays, it almost seems that the celebrations happen worldwide in order to provide people of another reason to drink, drink, and drink. And drink as well.

In Paraguay, for example, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are happening too. They do not necessarily happen in the streets, but pubs and clubs make it as a theme for the parties they give or special offers they have, and people usually go, with the purpose of “celebrating” something that they don’t really know much about, as the result of globalization and its relation to the idea that the attainment of westernisation is a symbol of higher social status. Not to say the least, everyone from home or from somewhere else was jealous of me being here during this time. The usual expectation they could have of me and of the others in my group would be of drinking all day long and following the normative of wearing anything green or St. Patrick-ish. Although I did get up to see the parade and meet friends to spend the day with, I did not follow any of the “typical normatives” mentioned above, but I still had a phenomenal day. Here is why:

After three years of not seeing each other, I met with my friend Ghadheer, from Palestine. We went to high school in Canada together, and while I am here in Dublin for a semester, she went to study abroad to Derry for a semester. She came up with her group during the weekend and stayed until Wednesday. We spent most of the time catching up and talking about how we much we like Dublin and Derry. I told her about the weekend trip we did and about all of the things we have seen, and started talking about the significance of the murals.

It is very interesting to see the contrast that can be made between the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the Northern Ireland conflict. She was telling me about her experiences not only in Derry so far, but also in Palestine last summer. I am glad to say that before going to high school in Canada I did not know much about the conflict but now, after getting to meet amazing friends like Ghadeer (and other friends from Israel too) I became much more informed, and whenever I hear anything related to the conflict, I think of them.

People from a game company known as Impact Games have developed a game that deals with the conflict. The game is known as Peacemaker, and it has the intention to put individuals into either sides and make decisions that will hopefully contribute to Peace. The process of achieving Peace is obviously not an easy one, but it is definitely worth to play the game, as it informs people of the dynamics between Israel and Palestine, and it gives them an idea of what is happening.

Here is the link of the video game for the ones who would like to download it and know more about it. It’s free!:

http://www.peacemakergame.com

With that said, that is how I mostly spent St. Patrick’s Day here in Ireland. It was a nice time to see a friend and to truly reconnect after so long, as well as sharing what we have learned since we last saw each other. For us, despite not having any personal relation to St. Patrick, it was indeed a day of celebration.

EXTRA: Here are some posters that bars and nightclubs in Paraguay made for the celebration of St. Patrick’s day:

Do they Ever Really Die? For their Stories Live on…

28 Mar

When I was speaking on the phone with my mom the other day, updating her on some of the recent happenings of my time here in Ireland, I mentioned how the next day we would be going on a class trip to Glassnevin Cemetery. She laughed and asked why we would be going there and commented that that would not be her ideal way to spend a Friday afternoon, and at first I was of the same opinion. I think it is great to learn about history, but I was not too esctatic to go and see some graves, even though I had heard some great reviews about Glassnevin.

I tried to keep an open mind, and after pondering the meaning of life and death on the bus ride to Glassnevin, we finally arrived and were met by a surprisngly chipper tour guide, given her job working in what would normally be a pretty depressing place to most people. She lead us first to the crypt of Daniel O’Connell, going over his work towards Catholic emancipation and his role as the first Catholic MP in Britain, but also adding some information that I was not aware of. She mentioned how O’Connell was also a big anti-slavery campaigner, working closely with Frederick Douglass in America, and that he also would speak about the unjust treatment of the Jewish population, almost a century before his time. I had no idea that he had been such a civil rights activist not only in Ireland, but beyond, and what a large and encompassing vision  he had of civil rights at a relatively early time in history. I was also a little saddened to hear our tour guide say that kids were not taught as much about Daniel O’Connell in school as they once were, and that the memory of him is slowly fading away in the minds of the Irish people. IMG_9975

We then entered the crypt and saw his giant lead coffin resting in the center of the room, told that the design ensured that his coffin would never be robbed and also that the lead did not let any air out or in, effectively preserving the body in the exact state that it was in when he died more than 150 years ago. I touched the coffin and felt a weird connection with Ireland’s past. Touching the coffin is supposedly good luck, and I’d like to believe that the strange moment I had was not necessarily receiving good luck but maybe rather some of the drive and foresight of Daniel O’Connell himself. One can dream, right?

We then saw the humble grave plot of the De Valera family, and were told that Eamon wanted to have a simple and humble burial, that what had been good enough to bury his 20 year old son in when he died would be good enough for him and the rest of his family as well. We saw the resting place of activist and once-over of W.B. Yeats, Maud Gonne, and her son Sean MacBride, who went on to do much social justice work worldwide, creating Amnesty International. The small fragments of history that are remembered in these names, in these people, are truly astonishing!IMG_9960

Last, we saw the gravestone of Michael Collins, covered entirely in fresh flowers. People apparently worship him to this day, thinking that he was truly the one who created an independent Republic of Ireland. A “mysterious French woman” apparently comes over several times, a year all the way from France, just to put flowers and a sweet card on his grave, a gesture showing the scope of Collins’ reach and the feelings he can still bring out in people to this day.

At Glassnevin, I did not feel the somber mood that I had expected, but rather one of reverence combined with a lighthearted understanding that just because someone has died, their story has not, nor has their influence. I was able to laugh at the the tour guide’s witty jokes and to see that maybe there is a life after death in the sense that one’s story never really dies.

-Raiven Greenberg

North of the Wall

25 Mar

Before travelling to Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, and Derry I equated Northern Ireland with war, protests, and political unrest. To be honest I was a little skeptical about how the weekend up North would go because I really did not know what to expect. As it turned out, Northern Ireland’s scenery was just as beautiful, and its people were just as nice and welcoming as every other part of Ireland I have previously visited. I was not particularly looking forward to travelling up North, but it ended up being one of the most memorable experiences I have had thus far in Ireland.

Although the majority of the first day in Belfast was spent sitting on a bus, it was full of interesting history thanks to our two informative tour guides. The tour guides were both very loyal to their sides of the wall, but they were not blinded by the fact that Northern Ireland as a whole would benefit if there was peace between the nationalists and unionists. Both men represent their sides of the wall and talk to each other in order to create a better future for Belfast. By driving through the city it was clear that the divide has had some negative effects, especially when it comes to the economy. The tour guide on the protestant side of the wall made sure to point out some of the businesses and buildings that are vacant because of the poor economy. Without businesses, the people in the city cannot find work to support their families. It was sad to see how hard life is for people in Belfast because of what happened many years ago.

The walking tour in Derry was just as moving as the tour in Belfast, especially because the tour guide was so passionate about creating a better future for generations to come. Bloody Sunday affected every family in Belfast, and the city of Derry has been recovering ever since. The guide dreams of a day when there is peace everywhere in the world. He wants people to learn from what happened to prevent future tragedies that are caused by hatred and racism. The museum we went to after the tour was very sad, especially because we met the brother of one of the victims who died January 30, 1972. Meeting him and hearing what he had to say about that morning made the situation feel very real.

I left Northern Ireland with a new appreciation for Ireland’s history. Although parts of the country’s history are very tragic, it is good to have this learning experience so there is not a repetition of history. I hope that Northern Ireland continues to improve so its inhabitants can live a happy and peaceful life.

By Sean Cronin