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Visit to Croke Park

4 Dec

Croke Park is more than just a stadium for most Irish men, women, and children. There is a culture that surrounds Gaelic sport and it is quite interesting. Croke Park has been a cultural hot-spot for over a hundred years. This immense park holds a whopping 82,300 avid fans of the GAA. The park is in fact so popular, that not only do sporting events happen there, but you can even have your wedding reception in the stadium! Because the uses of the stadium of become so diverse, more and more of the Irish population has been able to become acquainted with this wonderful and interesting attraction.

We were able to experience the rituals in which the players partake in before heading out to their game. We toured the locker room where the players prepare for their games and where they reside afterwards. I thought it was particularly interesting that there is a common room where both teams come together after the game and can mingle together despite which team won and which team lost. The comradeship that the Irish are so inclined to keep within their culture truly shows within the GAA and within Croke park itself. Not only does Croke Park encompass the beauty of Irish culture, but the stadium is quite aesthetically pleasing as well.

Alyssa Stump  Continue reading

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My visit to Glasnevin Cemetery

2 Dec

We all know the old saying about cemeteries, “people are dying to get in there”. Well, not me. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of cemeteries. Most people assume that I do not enjoy them because of the scare factor that cemeteries usually hold in many movies, television shows, etc., however I tend to avoid them for another reason. Although I do agree with the concept behind cemeteries and do agree that they should exist, I rather avoid the eerie feeling of anonymous death that surrounds them as you look at the sea of tombstones. When I found out that the Northeastern University group would be visiting a cemetery, these reasons left me discouraged.

However, Glasnevin Cemetery is not just any cemetery. The memorials of those that have passed are anything but anonymous. Glasnevin Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Ireland’s greatest heroes such as Daniel O’Connell and Michael Collins. During our visit and tour of Glasnevin we had a tour guide that would stop every 10 tombstones and have countless stories to tell about a person. Although there technically is a Glasnevin Museum, the cemetery itself felt more like a museum than your traditional graveyard.

Anyone that knows anything about Glasnevin Cemetery knows about is massive size. However the cemetery was not always this massive. Although the cemetery today pans across 124 acres, much larger than the 9 acre plot that it was when it opened in 1832. Daniel O’Connell, as a place for proper form of burial, opened the cemetery for Catholics.  To show respect for Daniel O’Connell’s efforts for the Irish people, Glasnevin remembers their hero with the most prominent tombstone in the entire cemetery. He is buried in a crypt with many descendants of his family beneath a round tower. In 1952, a schoolboy prank resulted in an explosion. A boy used homemade ingredients to make a tiny bomb and climbed the O’Connell tower on June 6th. The boy was placed on a twelve-month probation and stated his motive was simply boredom and curiosity. This attack on the O’Connell tower was much less severe than the one that would follow in 1971. In January of that year, loyalists of the Ulster Volunteer Force planted an explosive that would cause the windows and frames to be destroyed although the intention was to cause more damage to the tower.

I walked away from Glasnevin Cemetery after our tour with the N.U.in group with more of an open mind toward cemeteries. The history behind Glasnevin is vast and is too important to be forgotten. I definitely will visit again with friends in the future with the opposite mindset that I had approached it wish initially.

 -Alex Dfouni

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Award Winning Irish Short Film

1 Dec

When deciding what I wanted to do for my final Irish Life and Cultures blog I knew I wanted to do something more than just the history of something.  I have done my fair share of blogs on places we have visited, or people we have learned about.  So I racked my brain for a creative idea and it finally came to me.  Plenty of people have watched famous Irish movies and wrote a blog on them, but I often am too impatient to watch a whole film (one of my flaws), but I love short films.  They are a challenging piece of film, because of the limited time it has to get across a message.  But when it is done really well it is my favorite.  I came across an American website that posts a short film of the week for several different countries; Ireland being included.  I originally was only going to watch one or two, but once I got started I kept going.  I won’t write on all the ones I watched, just two favorite.

A short film called, New Boy, created by Steph Green was an Academy Award nominee and won several awards at international short film festivals.  The film is set in an elementary school where a new kid joins a class, but he looks different than everyone else.  He is from Rwanda and is instantly bullied by several kids in the class. The mood and facial expression of the little boy give a sense of sadness.  His eyes are always looking down and he never speaks.

Flashbacks of the boy at his school in Rwanda occur several times and you see him preforming and loving school.  You also learn that his father is his teacher.  I wondered why he was all of a sudden in Ireland.  You then see his father being taken by why appears to be the police and shot in front of his son.  The scene then flashes back to the new boy at his school in Ireland and him and another boy are about to engage in a fight.

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They are stopped and then questioned by the teacher and no one will say anything.  The teacher struggles the whole time to control her class and eventually the Irish boy who was about to fight the new boy says a funny comment about the teacher.  The two boys laugh at the comment and crack little smiles at each other.  The film ends at this; the two boys who seemed as if they would never get along find a commonalty and soon learned they are not all that different from each other.

I thought this film was a good connector of what seem to be two polar opposite countries.   It is relatable not only to those two countries, but any country around the world.  I know that being that age it is hard to make friends, especially when you feel like an outcast to the rest of your peers.  The film was only 11 minutes, but there were several times where I almost shed a tear.

-Anna Wilhite

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Western Ireland Adventures

25 Oct

At the beginning of the month we took an amazing trip to western Ireland. On Friday, we were free to wander about Galway’s city center which was beautiful. The shopkeepers made you feel so welcome and they sold stunning jewelry, especially a variety of Claddagh rings.

On Saturday we went to Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands. Our bus driver on the island, Daniel, was a native and informed us that the community has 1,000 inhabitants. He also explained to us that the rock walls arose from when a couple would get married their parents would give them rocks to create the boundaries of their new home together. Daniel dropped us off near the foot of Dun Aengus, a semicircular cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. As I was walking up the hill, I was not ready for what I was about to see.

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At 90 meters above the waves crashing into the cliff, I received the most beautiful view I have ever experienced. Unlike typical Irish weather, there was not a cloud in the sky. The ocean was crystal clear and the strong wind definitely woke me up. I was a little nervous about getting close to the edge but by the end of our time on top of the cliff, my friends and I were lined up on our stomachs with our heads hanging just over the ledge. There is something so incredible about wind surging into your face with butterflies in your stomach as you take in the unforgettable landscape. We didn’t want to leave, but we were excited for our next adventure: the Cliffs of Moher.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in our favor the following day. It was so cloudy that you wouldn’t notice the cows until you were ten feet from them. I tried to take pictures to show I was there, but I’m afraid they aren’t very convincing. Even though it wasn’t ideal, we enjoyed looking through the museum and at the different family crests. Cloudy or not, we headed back to Dublin feeling that it was a successful weekend filled with memories I will never forget. However, my slight obsession with Harry Potter tells me that I will be back at the Cliffs of Moher in the near future.

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References:

http://www.aranisland.info/inis-mor-inishmore/

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Glasnevin Cemetery

17 Oct

On Friday October 10th we took a small field trip to the Glasnevin Cemetery on the Northern side of Dublin. I have to be honest and say that I was not the least bit excited about waking up at 8 am on Friday to visit a cemetery. In my mind I pictured an old burial place where you could not really read the names on the tomb stones, but even if you could you would not know who the people were.  I was astonished when we arrived to see the size of Glasnevin! It is 128 acres and has over 1.5 million people buried there. There were thousands upon thousands of tombstones all right next to each other as far as the eye could see.

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After a short walk through of the museum we were guided outside by our tour guide who took us around to several of the most famous people buried there.  Our first stop was at the sight of Daniel O’Connell’s grave, but I don’t think you can really call it a “grave.”  Daniel O’Connell was an Irish political leader in the early 1800’s. He campaigned for Catholic Emancipation—including the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament, and repeal of the Act of Union which combined Great Britain and Ireland. O’Connell was the man that actually ordered Glasnevin to be opened and to be a place where anyone could be buried regardless of religion. He is buried in a room in the ground underneath a large tower. His coffin is so large they compare it to the bed of a king and it lies underneath a massive stone covering. The walls are all hand painted with ancient Irish designs and in the room next to him lays several of his family members. Just one visit to Daniel O’Connell’s grave, will show anyone how important he was to the Irish people.

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Our next stop was the burial place of Charles Parnell. He was an Irish landlord, nationalist political leader, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. He is said to have taken over the role of Daniel O’Connell when he passed away. However, his private life got in the way of his political career. It was discovered that he was having an affair with a lady by the name of Kitty O’Shea.  Ultimately this discovery led to a split in Parnell’s political party. Parnell was buried in October 1891 in the Cholera pit at Glasnevin Cemetery where some other 13,000 people were buried. Charles Parnell’s funeral marked the biggest ceremony Glasnevin has ever had with more than one-quarter of a million people in attendance.

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There were several other burial sights we visited including James Larkin. There were also thousands more that we did not get to visit. So while I was not initially excited to visit a cemetery, my mind was definitely changed once we got there. It was a cold and cloudy day, but the sight was still unbelievable.

-Anna Wilhite

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Hello

26 Jun

Hello how are you?

Aside 16 Dec

 

 

 

 

When walking into gift shops and other tourist related shops. One of the symbols that I have always seen there is the celtic knot. Whether the design if on a piece of jewelry or on a shirt, the symbol is always there and somehow related to Ireland. Celtic artwork is surrounded by mystery because it dates back to such a long time ago and has undergone many transformations since it was first developed. The iconic celtic knot did not appear until the seventh century, which was long after the arrival of Christian missionaries to the British controlled lands. The trend spread to most of Europe during the Middle Ages with influences from the Middle East and the Celtic region. Although the knot is not exclusive to the Celts, their design was more complex and beautiful than others so it made a lasting impression amongst many. In the mid-nineteenth century, Ireland began to use celtic artwork to restore a sense of pride, nationality, and unity into their people. They had experienced mass migration and famine and looked to reignite people’s sense of nationalism and pride. The knot became a symbol of political and cultural identity with references to love, purity, strength, health, and courage.

The symbols and meanings that Celtic art has comes from the rediscovery of Ireland’s cultural history. Before this time however, Celtic art had very few meanings that we know of. The main issue that arises is that there is no reliable feedback or data to back up meanings of these knots. Generally, people have all come to accept that the knot symbolizes the crossings of the spiritual and physical paths in our lives. The never-ending path that is permanent and long lasting. Besides the Celtic knot there are also eternity knots, love knots, and celtic crosses. All of these patterns date back to ancient times and have been carried over to represent something more. The ideas behind these knots are truly great however, how much do they tell us about the history of the Celts or the ones that have made these symbols for centuries? Tourists buy into the idea that this knot is somehow and “Irish” symbol. Although it is a symbol for nationalism among the Irish we can not forget the originally significance and meaning behind these knot patterns. 

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