Today we spent a few hours in the classroom (the longest stretch of time during this whole trip) listening to and discussing Irish music. By Irish music, I mean music written by Irish people or about Irish things or even just in the style of traditional Irish music. When I saw the packet of lyrics I was pleasantly surprised to see a handful of songs that I grew up on, songs by the Sex Pistols, Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, and Morrissey.
Before this class, those songs had just been tied to memories of riding around in a conversion van with my friends listening to our favorite tunes, but I learned there was a lot going on beneath the surface of these songs. One of the songs I found most interesting to learn about was Teenage Kicks by The Undertones. On the surface this is a very light-hearted and innocent song about a boy’s crush on a girl. What I learned today was that this song was released in the midst of the Troubles and it was an expressing a desire for normalcy in a time where life was anything but. We had an extremely interesting class today!
Tonight, after a long day of visiting museums, we got to go to a Bohemian Football Club game. It was animated to say the least. Nothing feels more authentic than cramming into a stadium and watching a game of “football” (soccer) and listening to the cheers, swears, and songs of the animated crowd. It was definitely a fun and interesting experience that I would recommend to anyone visiting Ireland.
The museums that we visited before the game were the most interesting ones that we’ve been to so far. My favorite part of the museum portion of the day was the “bog bodies” exhibit. These are mummified and preserved bodies that have been uncovered from bogs around Ireland. It was quite incredible to see the details and features that were conserved since 300 B.C. Some of them even had a full head of hair in tact!
Visiting Howth Summit was my favorite class of the trip so far. We were lucky enough to go on a day with absolutely gorgeous weather. We walked along a beautiful cliff side path to the general area where Molly Bloom said “yes” in Ulysses. It is so incredible to be able to visit the actual locations that Joyce writes about. It brings such life to the literature and makes it much easier to immerse myself in the readings. Being able to see the beauty of Howth Summit first hand made Molly’s experience romantic and profound.
Without the opportunity to visit the places you read about, it is easy for the pages and stories to blur together. I highly suggest exploring places that you read about, there’s nothing else that can bring such depth and dimension into one’s own understanding of a piece of literature.
For myself, Gerilyn, and Emily this weekend will be spent exploring London. It is incredible to me how a place that has always seemed so out of reach was so easily accessible once I was already in Europe. It is as cheap and easy (if not cheaper and easier) to travel within Europe than it is to travel within the United States. My round trip plane ticket from Ireland to England cost half as much as my round trip ticket from Massachusetts to Georgia last month.
We haven’t even begun our touring of this city and already it seems overwhelming. To cover a city so large in only two short days will be interesting. So far our list of attractions to visit are The London Eye, The Globe Theater, Big Ben and other sites of that nature. I hope we’re able to delve into the punk culture a bit as it was born here decades ago.
Pictures to follow!
Although this is a Dublin based trip, one of my favorite days was spent in Northern Ireland. I took a bus tour wit three other students to Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Giant’s Causeway, and Belfast. As soon as the bus crossed the border out of the city, the landscape changed entirely and the story book Ireland that I was waiting for appeared.
Nothing but green speckled with cows and sheep for as far as I could see. I had my phone ready to take pictures to send him but it didn’t seem like any photo I took could capture the vastness and beauty of the land. It is so unfamiliar to me personally to spend hours passing through land that is so untouched.
Our first destination on the tour was my favorite, the rope bridge. Before we got to the bridge we walked a little less than a mile along a coastal cliff. The view was unbelievable. It was a clear enough day that we could even see Scotland from where we stood at the edge of the cliff. The exhilaration of the hike and then crossing the rope bridge itself is a sensation I’ll never forget.
So far my favorite part of the trip has been Phoenix Park. The rich green field with the mountains in the background was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen (on this trip and in general). Although cricket was not the most riveting thing to watch, it was really nice to just sit in a quiet place and enjoy nature and the many sounds coming from the Dublin zoo. It was the first time since Thursday that it felt like I was in another country. It is easy to spend time in the city of Dublin and pick up on all the similarities between there and Boston.