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History of the Irish Flag

24 Nov

The Irish flag, often described as the Irish tricolor, is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and orange.  The original design dates back to 1848 when a group of French women gave it as a gift to Thomas Francis Meagher in sympathy for the Irish cause.  Meagher was an Irish nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848.  He first described the idea behind the flag as “The white in the center signifies a lasting truce between the “Orange” and the “Green,” and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood.”  The first time it was recognized as a symbol of Ireland was with the 1916 Easter rising when it was flown above the General Post Office in Dublin.  It was not officially adopted as the Irish flag until December 6th, 1921 when Ireland gained its freedom from Great Britain.  Before this time a blue, than later green, flag with a harp in the middle was used to represent the nation of Ireland.  The change is associated with the United Irishmen, an Irish nationalist movement associated with both Catholic and Protestant Irish.  Green was a color of rebellion in the nineteenth century.

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The Irish government has stated what each color represents; green represents the Gaelic tradition in Ireland, the Orange represents the follower of William of Orange, and the white represents the idea of peace between the two groups.  Often times people state the flag is ‘green, white, and gold’ as tensions still remain between the Catholics and Protestants.  This is highly untrue and the Irish government states that the color is orange and not gold.  Tensions and fighting have occurred between the Irish Catholics and the British Protestants since well before the flag came about.  The tensions, sadly, still remain around today, although the level of severity has calmed down significantly.

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-Anna Wilhite

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Dublin City Marathon 2013

28 Oct

Dublin City Marathon 2013

On the cold, but sunny Monday October 28th Dublin hosted its 34th annual marathon. The race started at Fitzwilliam Street Upper and finished at Clare Street and Merrion Square North. The 26.1 mile race took thousands of runners on one big loop around Dublin. They ran down O’Connell Street, through Phoenix Park, and around University College Dublin. Thousands of runners came out to raise money for different charities of their choice.

This year was particularly exciting for the Irish people because an Irish man won the race for the first time in twenty years. A man named Sean Hehir took first place after it took him two hours and eighteen minutes of running. This time marks just one minute over Sean’s best. Sean was born in Clare, but has been living in Dublin the past seventeen years. The last Irish man to win the Dublin Marathon was John Treacy in 1993. Sean did not take the win easily though. It was neck and neck the whole race between him and a Dublin native Joe Sweeney. At mile twenty Joe was slightly ahead of Sean and it appeared if he would take first. But Sean came back to take a slight win over Joe.

As a runner, these kinds of events are very exciting for me. I love the feeling of the huge crowd of people running down the street. I personally have never run a marathon, or a half marathon for that matter. I have participated in my fair share of races though. My Nana is a marathon runner and has run several all over the United States. She always impresses me because she is in her seventies and can still run 26.1 miles. I am a teenager and I struggle running just a couple miles. The one thing about any race though that inspires me is the reason people are running. Whether it is a one miles race or a full marathon everyone is running for a goal. Maybe it is to raise money for a charity, to get in better shape, or just to say they can do it. Whatever it is, every time someone crosses the finish line you can see the joy on their face. They get what is called a ‘runners high,’ a euphoric feeling of being able to accomplish most anything.

-Anna Wilhite

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Living Life on the Edge

9 Oct

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Western Ireland.  I was looking forward to finally see the rolling hills and green grass that comes to mind when I think of Ireland.  Not only was I excited to leave the city of Dublin to see another part of Ireland, but also to hear people speak the native language of Irish.  The only time I have had the opportunity to hear Irish are the few times I have learned simple phrases from my professor, Donal.  Therefore, I was extremely excited to listen to the locals’ conversations in the hopes of picking up a few new words and phrases!

When visiting Western Ireland, I was consistently impressed by the amazing views and history of the area.  My favorite part of the trip was traveling to the Inish-More and visiting Den Aengus.  Instantly, the beauty captivated me.  The clear skies and sights are unforgettable and as I have learned from similar experiences, photographs do not do the area justice.  Den Aengus is a fort from the Iron Age, dating back to three thousand years ago, constructed entirely from stone. The fort was built on the edge of a cliff and consists of four defensive walls to protect the inhabitants from invaders.  In addition, the steep walk up to the fort was strategically constructed as a supplementary measure to prevent an attack up the slope.  From the measures taken to construct a well-protected and easily defendable fort, I can conclude that Den Aengus was the location of a lot of warfare.  In addition, the fort originated from the Iron Age, a time of violence, which supports my conclusion.

Unfortunately, no one knows who built Den Aungus.  While some believe that the Danes constructed the fort there is no sufficient evidence to fully support this argument.  Despite the mystery of the fort’s origin, Den Aungus remains the most breath-taking place I have seen thus far in Ireland.

Sources:

http://www.irish-society.org/home/hedgemaster-archives-2/places-artifacts/dun-aengus

http://www.voicesfromthedawn.com/dun-aenghus/

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Weekend in the West

8 Oct

This past weekend, we traveling to Galway, The Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. The city itself is small and quaint, but lively at the same time. Since it is so small, we were able to pretty much see the entire thing in about an hour, which was a nice change from the craziness of Dublin. Galway is also known for its live music and the nightlife, so naturally we all went out on the first night to experience the notoriously fun pubs. The nightlife was awesome, everyone was so friendly and the pubs were really fun. The bands were great and they even played American songs, so we could sing along and stand out even more than we already do. I definitely recommend going to the Kings Head pub.. its amazing!

The next day, we took a journey to the Aran Islands. I had not heard much about them before I came to Ireland, but it is one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been. The island we went to is called Inishmore and is the biggest island out of the string of three. It has a population of about 1,000 people, so its really not that big of an island. The inhabitants live a simple life, with few amenities, but have the most amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, and harbor seals! What was really interesting about the islands is that, different from the mainland, they predominately speak Gaelic. All of their signs are in Gaelic first, with English second. While its a big controversy in the mainland, if they want to speak Gaelic they should be able to.. as long as they have English subtitles. Another thing is how immersed in the culture they are. They take up old hobbies such as basket weaving and they do celtic art because that is what they used to do to pass the time. Also, the island was mostly made of rock. Our bus tour guide made a joke “don’t take rocks from the island, we don’t have enough!” It was so funny because literally everywhere you looked, there were rocks. It also made for the beautiful landscape and how each property was lined with rocks to show where it began and where it ended. It was like the island hasn’t progressed in time, but the best part of it was that they have chose not to do so. While we were here, we took a quick tour along the coast of the island until we came to our destination, the cliffs. Since there is a lot of rock on this island, there are rock structures leading up to the top of the cliffs, and once you arrive at the top, the views are endless. You can see the mainland, along with the entire Atlantic Ocean and so many little villages on the island. It was amazing. It is a place that I would recommend to everyone to go to at least once in their lifetime.

Source: http://aranislands.galway-ireland.ie/inishmore.htm

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The Hill of Tara

18 Sep

The Hill of Tara, best known as the Seat of High Kings of Ireland, is located in County Meath, Leinster. It is a large circular earth mound, symbolizing the mother earth. Dating from the Neolithic period (4,000 – 2,000 BC), the hill, was a henge monument, used for ritual and/or astronomical observations. The Hill of Tara was used as an area of inauguration of Kings, being inaugurated at Tara bestowed the highest honor upon a king and accorded him a special dominance over other kings with a title of King of Tara.

There are many monuments around the Hill of Tara that all symbolize something different. To start off, there is the Mound of Hostages. The Mound of Hostages is a small, short passage grave that is designed to catch the rays of the sun. It is a holding cell to ensure loyal submission from the people of surrounding kingdoms. One extremely popular monument is the Stone of Destiny. Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 5.14.08 PM It was said that, if a king was chosen, it would have to stand in front of the Stone of Destiny, and it would have to “roar” three times to ensure that this kings was THE king. Tara Hill is connected to significant landscape and monumental sites because it was, in medieval times, part of an extensive kingdom whose  domain extended from the River Dee to the River Liffey and eastwards to the coast.  The landscape historically extended to the Hill of Skyrne. The Hill of Skyrne, still houses the 12th century Skyrne Castle, which is a national monument.

Scholars have pointed out that you can observe all four counties from the top of Hill of Tara, which is very impressive.

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Sarah Zaatar

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GAA Games!

24 Jul

GAA Games!

My favorite cultural experience in Dublin has been going to the GAA games! I am a sports fanatic. I think I like sports a bit more than some of my guy friends. So when the opportunity came up to go to the hurling match, I could not say no, especially since it was a division championship match! Obviously I had no idea what hurling was, I did a little research on Wikipedia before the games so I had some semblance of what was going on. I could feel the buzz through the stadium; Dublin had not won a Leinster Championship in 52 years. The match consisted of Galway v. Dublin; needless to say Dublin was the underdog. With a close game right until about 10 minutes left Dublin came out on top winning 2-25 to 2-13 against Galway. It was the first time the two teams have met in a Leinster Final.

The next weekend a smaller group of us went to see the Dublin Gaelic Football team play in the Leinster Championship against Meath. Having seen Australian Rules football, I sort of had some understanding of the game. Unlike the hurling team, Dublin had won eight of the last nine Leinster championships and was favored to win the game. There were also about 20,000 more fans at the football game than the hurling match. It was not a hard game to follow and Dublin won 2-15 to 0-14. Their goaltender and captain, Stephen Cluxton, scored five of those goals.

Both games were very exciting but I have to say, but I liked hurling more than I liked the football game. It was also the first time that the two teams had won championship at the same time in 60 or so years! I loved the atmosphere in and around the stadium and happy we got to go see both games. It is definitely something I will never forget about my time in Ireland.

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A little golden boat with a lot of meaning

19 Jul

A little golden boat with a lot of meaning

I found this 20cm gold boat as I ventured through the museum. It caught my eye because of its delicacy. Also anything boating related always catches my eye, force of habit if you will! According to information in the museum it dates back to 100BC.

The boat has eight oars on both sides and what looks like a rudder at the stern of the boat. It is hard to tell if at some point there was also a sail on the boat because clearly there is a mast in the center, which would lead one to believe there had to be a sail.

As I was trying to pick out the artifact I wanted to write about, I thought I’d get a better idea by looking at O’Toole’s ‘A History of Ireland in 100 Objects’ – low and behold the gold boat was number 15 on the list! He says “… a rare thing in Early Irish art: a realistic depiction of a real object.”

So what exactly was going on in Ireland in 100 BC? The Celts had begun their emigration to Ireland around 600 BC; this is considered the Iron Age. Ireland stayed dominated by the Celts much longer than the rest of Europe. It is possible that this golden boat is a result of the arrival of the La Téne culture, which is named after a Celtic site in Switzerland. With the arrival of this culture around 300 BC, came a very distinct style of metal work. I believe this small boat is a great example of that.

Like O’Toole said this is one of the first artistic depictions of a real object we see in Irish art. I’m not sure what the purpose of creating the boat was, maybe this marks a turning point in Irish art – a focus on representing what is real. It also is a great example of the Celt’s influence on Irish culture of that time.