6.3.12 The keystone of Ireland’s culture

There are many symbols and ideas associated when Ireland is spoken of. Some of these symbols may be considered misconceptions or stereotypes that are well understood by those of us that are not residents of Ireland

During our travels throughout the land of “40 shades of green” I got to better understand Ireland’s deep bond or relationship with religion. More specifically Christianity is the prospering religion among most Irish families in Ireland. During our excursion I was exposed to the brilliant experience of visiting St. Patrick Cathedral.

While exploring I better understood the value and importance the Irish community places on religion. I found this quite interesting because in our country many of us think of religion and more specifically organized religion as a chore. The tradition of attending church is passed from parents to children and when the children are grown they do it not because it’s their belief but, a ritual.

From the other side of the spectrum Ireland values religion because it is “truly” their belief system. A great deal of this may be tied into tradition as well but, for completely different reasons than the United States. Ireland’s history is primarily based in Catholic and religious storytelling and events. Religion acts as a keystone to Ireland’s core foundation. Seamus Heaney is the best example of the incorporation of religion into the culture of poetry integrated into this cultures tapestry. Due to his Catholic beliefs it is abundantly clear that he uses religion in many of his poems. The poem “Docker” is a fine example of Heaney incorporating religion and God into his work.

Not unlike the United States, Ireland has a strong sense of community. However, how we use this term is very different in comparison. Large cities such as Dublin and New York are dramatically different. In New York the social scheme is very quickly paced and very impersonal. Despite the large population and speed of Dublin the social communication between individuals is much more common and personable compared to our own.

This is a trait that I believe would be very beneficial if it was integrated into our own sense of social communication. If you compared our personal definitions of small communities then the difference would be far more apparent. For a large cityscape in the heart of a major city it may be very difficult to pinpoint the distinctions easily.

One thing you may not think of is the symbols and role models that we idolize. In our own society we emphasize a great deal of time and energy on the consumption of pop culture, reality TV, class and social standing, and economic fluctuation. Where as in Ireland the only real form of entertainment watched is soccer or politics. Yes there are other programs but, in my experience in two weeks the use of technology was better used to enhance or better the country. Eco-friendly technology was one of the major concerns in Ireland. Hand dryers were used, water conservation for toilets was installed, and even electrical outlets and fixtures were designed for energy conservation. The issues of the community of Ireland seemed to take precedence over the sheer entertainment that has little value. By doing this the community converged to amuse themselves in both small towns and cityscapes. They did this through literature, poetry, music, dance, and of course storytelling. These traits add to the community dynamic that we commonly associate with Ireland. We have seen this sense of community in both “The Quiet Man” and “My Left Foot” most dominantly. Also in “The Crying Game” and “5 Minutes of Heaven” we got a better understanding of the cityscape lifestyle that is depicted in Dublin.

There are many definitions and interpretations of the word “community.” Ireland however, implements many of the key words that are associated with many of the definitions. These words include togetherness, unity, kinship, gatekeeper, and common identifying interests. With this being said we can distinguish that there are many variations of the word community. Is there a right and wrong definition? Not really but, some definitions are better constructed.


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