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Her voice is stronger than waves fighting against her rocky green cliffs. Her sound echoes through stone ruins of her ancient history. She is Ireland. This is her song.

Kristopher Reif


Malahide & Dublin 24 May 2010

Malahide A quaint, upper class seaside town northeast of Dublin city. The Grand Hotel, where we took stay for two nights, overlooks the beautiful Malahide Harbour where we were forced to captured the sunset with our minds due to the lack of cameras. Jet lag was setting in. We got our first taste of the town pub “scene” and sampled Guinness.

ship of the Christian God. Ornamented woodwork, stone, and statues add complex detail and unsurpassed beauty to the cathedral. I found this site particularly fascinating due to learning about cathedral construction and art in the Middle Ages.

Dublin Castle A castle off of Dame Street in Dublin known best for the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 where a ceremony took place handing over freedom to the Irish from the British, led by Michael Collins. This place visited we saw in the film “Michael Collins.” St. Patrick’s Cathedral Founded in 1191, St. Patrick’s boasts being the largest church in Ireland. It is noted that after the reformation the church became Anglican, but returned to its Catholic status under the rule of Edward VI. The church is unbelievably spatial containing incredible lofting and providing a heaven-like atmosphere appropriate for the wor-

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Trinity College Aside from being one of the most famous and prestigious colleges in Ireland, Trinity contains incredibly old architecture dating back to the sixteenth century. Trinity holds countless volumes of old books, including its most famous - The Book of Kells. The library was breathtaking and I remem-


ber really wanting to open one of the books called, “The History of the World” from the sixth century, but the guard wouldn’t allow it.

I felt well versed in this subject and found it intriguing learning the symbolism within the designs. Class PowerPoints and lectures really helped me prepare and crave taking a look at this book up close. Grafton Street I cannot say I really recall much of Grafton Street and the surrounding area. We did get to hear two older lads play traditional music in the Temple Bar while fulfilling our appetite of severe hunger and fighting off jet lag. I recall the bus ride home that every person on that bus was asleep - except Danny, thank goodness!

The Book of Kells This book, presumably crafted as early as the ninth century by Celtic monks. The illuminated book escaped Viking invasion, except the cover. Heavily ornamented, the book is lavish in design and contains animals, humans, knot work all developed by hand to tell a story of the history of Christianity and the Celts place within that story. I really anticipated seeing this piece of work due to my interest in graphic design and the arts and this work blew my mind when you consider that all the dye was made by hand and then monks produced tiny intricate details in unbelievably low candlelight. Most designers went blind at an early age due to this, but it proves their eagerness to save Christianity. Due to books such as these, Christianity’s history was able to be distributed, “illuminated,” and ultimately prosper.

Grafton Street was interesting to visit because of its relation to the musical artist, the Script. Strangely enough, back at the hotel I tried to sleep, but it was so bright outside that I couldn’t. That night we were out at the pubs until probably midnight completely awake.

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Left : The Penn Corner, Dublin Right: The Quay’s Bar, Dublin


Bru na Boinne 25 May 2010

Knowth A megalithic passage tomb in the Bru na Boinne takes the prize for being the oldest site I have ever been to, dating back to the time before the pyramids. Having done a presentation on this for class, I came knowing a lot about the Winter Solstice effect in the passageways as well as what some of the designs on the kerbstones possibly mean. I find it absolutely fascinating that back in 400BC they knew the lunar and solar calendars as well as advanced studies like apogee and perigee. I do wish we could have gone down the passage tomb, but I was equally as excited to go atop it and see a 360 degree view of the river valley.

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It was unusual to think that when crawling through the tunnel between the Knowth tomb and the satellite mounds that I was crawling through a tunnel built two millennia before the time of Christ. It’s sort of a humbling experience knowing that you are within such a small frame of time. The Boinne river and its surrounding farmland was the first taste of rural Ireland. Complete with sheep for Anna to take pictures of, we could see endless paddocks of green. Malahide Castle & Park This castle, at a park on the outskirts of Malahide, was not what actually took interest to us the most. It was a modern playground down the path. This playground included some quite advanced jungle gym equipment not known to American children. There was even a zip line for the kids to use. We got to thinking that due to the way America is with laws and lawsuits, that “dangerous� equipment like this could never be located in our home towns.


Glendalough 26 May 2010

Glendalough Monestary

this would be a dangerous form of hiding, for an invader could easily set a fire in the base and burn the entire down. I found the tower most spectacular in this settlement, for as the early settlers, it is the first thing a visitor notices as passing along. The Upper Lake

This monastery, located in the glacial valley of Co. Wicklow, is a settlement from the sixth century. It holds a chapel, a round tower, and a graveyard. The most spectacular feature of this monastery is the round tower lofting thirty meters into the sky. Inside are ladders and timber floors. The most intriguing part of this tower is that the entrance is 3 meters from the base instead of on the ground. The round tower was most likely used as a landmark for visitors. The tower contained a bell and could also have been used as a refuge in times of attack. In class we learned it used for as protection against invasions. But learning from the guide,

This lake, most intriguing after learning about the myths involved with it, reminded me of the speculation attributed to Loch Nes and its monster. The myth claims that a woman who dares enter the lake will be sucked under and drown; however, all the women had absolutely no problem testing out this myth. The myth was clearly busted. The entire area of Glendalough, with its high cliffs and hills, sheep and lakes created a stunning array of beauty anywhere I looked. The sunny weather only complemented it It was a fun place to mess with photography.

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Left : The Upper Lake, Glendalough Right: Gate, Glendalough


Carlow & Kilkenny 27 May 2010

Seamus Heaney

Kilkenny

Our lecture on Heaney was a very intriguing and interactive lesson. The poem, “Digging” was the one most influential to me. He used a very creative relation to the writing of a pen being like digging into his family and land’s history as compared to his father digging with the spade in the turf. He relates his family’s work ethic, culture, and trade. Poems

Inside a very quaint and lively town, even in the midst of rain and clouds, lies the Kilkenny Castle from the twelfth century. This castle still stands as a reminder of the Norman occupation which we discussed in brief in class lectures.

I read prior to the lecture included Digging, MidTerm Break, Death of a Naturalist, and the Personal Helicon. The “Personal Helicon” also stuck out to me as it used the iconic feature of a well and childlike echoes down the well as in calling to his past. Heaney, as seen in the poems we studied, always attempts to explore himself in relation to the world rather that gripe about a political agenda. He is very natural and realistic in his writings. Most importantly he is not afraid to be dreadfully honest with himself. In “Personal Helicon” he states “I rhyme / To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”

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The room that stuck out to me most in this castle was the great room full of paintings. Its stunning high ceiling and walls covered with centuries old artwork really has a powerful impact when you enter the large room. I wanted badly to snap a picture, but given the age of the paintings this was forbidden.


Strokestown 28 May 2010

Strokestown House

The Famine Museum

This eighteenth century house, lived in by the landlord, Mahon, is in the process of being restored to its original state. It was nice to actually see a house partially how it was left. This house, as opposed to the Kilkenny Castle, has not been repaired as much and shows its age, which I generally find more unique than a fixed up property.

On the same property as this house is the National Famine Museum. The museum holds a collection of original documents from the famine that really bring to light the situation between the landlord and tenants in the 1840s. It was actually scary to see the actually letters of angry, hungry tenants as well as actual pictures of their conditions.

The Landlord Mahon was an unfair one at best and lost his life to an Irish gunman during the potato famine.

The Great Famine was covered extensively in class through the book, Galway Bay, which really provided a good start to understanding their conditions. But it was not until I got to the museum that I really felt how much of a tragedy really took place. Seeing the Strokestown House lived in by the wealthy British landlord as compared to the shacks lived in my his tenants is a bad start to begin with, not to mention all of the food they forced the starving Irish give up. I’m well aware that inhumane acts like this occur all of the time, but I guess you really never know quite what its like until you are the suppressed peoples.

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Left : Walk, Kilkenny Right: Wall, Carlow


Donegal & North 29 May 2010

William Butler Yeats

tionalist area struck by civil rights turmoil against the British. Groups such as the IRA attempted Our lecture on Yeats covered the short play “Cath- to keep the British groups out. The townspeople leen Ni Houlihan.” Yeats wrote this primarily in supported the actions of the IRA and continthe English language. The play dealt with social ued to support them even after Bloody Sunday affairs above political affairs. He wanted his work in January of 1972 where 13 men were shot by to really boost pride and a national identity. He in- British paratroopers. The struggles came to an tended to draw back the negative self image asso- and in 1972 when thousands of British troops deciated with being Irish. The play takes place dur- scended upon the area. The area has been peaceing the famine and was comprised by himself and able ever since. Lady Gregory. The woman that the play is about is actually not a woman at all, but rather a symbol I must say this area was most interesting knowfor Ireland herself. ing that the groups that started back in the time of Michael Collins. It was quite impacting seeing the The play is set in 1798, during the United Irish- murals on the walls and knowing that the event men’s rebellion. In the play, the woman convinces mentioned in one of the most influential U2 songs the young man to go off and fight knowing the took place where I was standing. man will most likely die and he does. The two themes presented here are sacrificial martyrdom It was most unusual to see British license plates and the sacrifice of heroes in a nation. This mean- and road signs for the first time in what feels like ing that the man needed to go off to war in order Ireland. to free Ireland. Dunluce Castle Free Derry The seaside castle that rests atop the cliffs above “You are now entering Free Derry” shows on the breaks in Northern Ireland dating back to the a street side wall in the plaza of Free Derry. Be- 1200s. The castle was a common place of visitatween 1969-1972 this area was a self declared na- tion for early Vikings and Christians. Most of the

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castle is only crumbling walls, but it holds a unique and incredible beauty as it looks as if the rest of it could fall into the sea. In the seventeenth century part of the kitchen collapsed into the sea and the wife of the castle’s owner refused to live there anymore. Only a kitchen boy survived the collapse.

Carrick a Rede Bridge For some 350 years, bridges have been placed over to the Carrick Island for fishermen. The current bridge is a tourist attraction at most leading to a gorgeous view from the island. Ring Fort Giant’s Causeway

This ring fort, which I’m not sure has an ofThis area also on the sea heralds an as- ficial name, is memorable because of McKtounding 40,000 interlocked basalt columns night’s mythical story as the sun set behind jetting out of the ground. Science says its her while we stood on the top layer of this the result of historic volcanic activity. Myth structure dating back to the time of the says that Fionn mac Cumhaill built the Celts. Even though we were hungry and causeway so he could walk to Scotland to tired, I’m glad we stopped. fight. This was the one place on our trip where a mythical figure we extensively discussed was part of the history of one of our stops. I think, from the entire trip, this area was the most beautiful. The cliffs, the green, the clear waters, and the strange columns in the midst of a dreary sky led to stunning views.

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Left : Green Cliffs, by Dunluce Right: McKnight on the Ring Tower


Yeats & Sligo 30 May 2010

Yeats’ Grave

This gorgeous lake on a perfectly sunny day reflected the blue sky and only a few perfectly white In the Drumcliffe Cemetary in Sligo, we found clouds. Though we did not get to tour the lake on Yeat’s grave. Most interesting about this venture the water bus, it was still gorgeous to see the place was Dr. Meyer’s traditional rendition of the “Lake Yeats considered to be where he could find the Isle of Innisfree.” deepest part of his heart. I did find out that Yeat’s always had a struggle between his Protestant upbringing and the Irish Catholic culture around him. I can relate to that in a way because I am a Protestant at a Catholic University. The Lake Isle of Innisfree

Sligo This quaint town we visited on a Sunday was surprisingly empty. Aside for the fact that it was quite difficult to find food, the river that runs through the center of it and arching bridges allowed for a picturesque scene. If I go back I would like to see the activity in that town on a weekday. Carrowmore Cemetery Being the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs, it is also considered one of the oldest. The farmland is dotted with over sixty tombs and rests below the Tomb of Queen Maeb. Unfortunately, we discovered that if you pass through a tomb you do not enter into the land of the fairies. To a person passing by the tombs look like precariously placed boulders, but truthfully quite a architectural feat for the ancients.

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Galway & Ennis 31 May 2010

Galway

were my age and the place had a lot of character. If I were to move to Ireland, I could see myself really I was really hoping we would get to venture out to enjoying living in a town similar to Galway, if not Galway, mostly because of the novel I read, Galway Galway itself. Bay. One thing I had to accomplish with this stop was to actually see the bay where Honora and her Ennis children escaped to catch a boat to America. I did accomplish just this and instantly felt a connection Our last stop place we stayed during the trip was to the bay and its seaside houses. It was fascinat- Ennis. This was a very small town you could ing being able to actually see a place you read so probably walk in about twenty minutes. much about and the turmoil that effected the land and streets you are walking. Diana and I met up with her two friends from Poland that live out in Limerick. It was very intriguing seeing what the Polish people think of the Irish culture, which is far different from the American viewpoint. The two things they found unbarring were the Irish accents and the greasy fried foods, which Americans both love. That evening I got a chance to go out and do some night photography over by the river and side streets. It was raining slightly so the orange from the streetlights nicely reflected off of the puddles and made for some beautiful images to capture, including mist coming off the river. The town itself was beautiful and reminded me of a college town. Most of the people walking around

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Left : Night Smoke, Ennis Right-Top: Bridge, Sligo Right-Bottom: Sheep, Drumcliffe


Moher & Bunratty 1 June 2010

Cliffs of Moher The cliffs located in Co. Clare rise 120 meters out of the Atlantic are one of Ireland’s most spectacular features. O’Brien’s Tower is a round tower, built by Sir Cornelius O’Brien, to impress female visitors. This tower provides an added interesting element to the cliff’s already stunning view.

were even signs placed by Samaritan that ask, “Need Support?”and provide a phone number for a suicide hot line. Before the Cliffs, we stopped at St. Brigette’s Well, which was haunting as it was beautiful. Bunratty Park & Castle The park was intriguing from an artistic sense. I could take photos here with people in traditional medieval costume and houses with thatched roofs. The character of the part reminded me of Colonial Willaimsburg. Also, I must say I like the scent and feel of a peat hearth fire.

While we were there visiting, there was a local harpist playing which added mystical and mythological ambiance to the atmosphere. One sad note that caught my attention was the number of suicides off of the cliffs. I noticed there

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The castle’s farewell banquet was a memory I will be sure not to forget. Here, I got to try the rather strong mead and I finally met the redhead girl I was looking for. The food, wine, and performance was quite entertaining and I must admit the fiddle player that graduated from Juliard was one of the best violinists I have ever heard. Also, I will never forget Jeff being locked up. This night was one of the highlights of the trip.


Shannon & Home 2 June 2010

Last Day

quite beautiful and captivating. Everyone who told me to go said that I wouldn’t want to leave. The Shannon Airport was quite the experience. They were right! If only I could convince my famAside from going through three security screen- ily and friends to move there with me. I hope to ings, my zippers breaking on my backpack, Bob’s return: just me, my camera, and a backpack (with passport fiasco, and crazy old redhead couples working zippers). My only goal is to pack lighter running around, I can definitely say that that day than Dr. Ramsland. will live in infamy in my books. Her voice is stronger than waves fighting against her Thirty minutes before we had to get on the plane, rocky green cliffs. Her sound echoes through stone I was frisked and my backpack searched. The ruins of her ancient history. She is Ireland. This is her backpack, which had been a faithful companion song. on countless trips around the United States and Europe, let me down when the zippers refused to follow their track. May my backpack, which I buried deep within the airport trash can, rest in peace. Saying goodbye to Danny wasn’t easy for any of us and he will certainly be missed. If I do return to Ireland, which better be soon, I hope to see the good ol’ lad. Last Thoughts The trip was an unbelievable journey I can’t compare anything with. I would return to Ireland in a heartbeat, given I had a thousand bucks that is. It’s culture, though now slightly American, is still

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Left : Cattle in Storm, Moher Right: Socializing, Bunratty



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