6.04.12 Ireland’s past illuminated

Life has been quiet different since we left Sneem. I felt like the group was really becoming a part of the community. We were able to walk around town and notice people from something we had done the day before or something we experienced with that person.

Unlike Sneem, traveling around Ireland by coach has a very different vibe than living in a beautiful hotel. Since I have last written, we have been to Killarney, Galway, and now Dublin. Each city that we have visited since has increased in population and in size. I have felt a little disoriented since moving on from Sneem.

But, with the bad comes the good. We have been able to experience new things that we were not able to do in Sneem. For example, our first night in Galway was filled with a dramatic play “Famine”. This play really took me by surprise. Initially it was difficult to understand their accents and it was drawn out; however, once I dealt with that barrier I was able to enjoy and be transformed by the play. It focused on families in Ireland during the potato blight. Families had to choose between staying in their home of Ireland versus traveling to America and braving the journey. This was a powerful play that really put into perspective the struggles and the challenges of dealing with starvation. I never thought about the potato blithe in Ireland quiet like I did that night.

During the play, there were moments when I was able to connect what the actors were saying to a poem we have read in class. Eavan Boland uses Ireland’s history in her poems and makes the reader think about the moments in a different way. For example, in “That the Science of Cartography is Not Limited” she says “The Relief Committees gave the starving Irish such roads to build. Where they died the road ended.” By reading this before I watched the play I was able to understand pieces of what the actors were going through. There were times in the play when the father mentioned help coming in the form of providing jobs… building roads. However, the “help” that was provided was not good enough to sustain the lives of the thousands of Irish families that died.

The altar inside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.

Something else that I have experienced and noticed while traveling has been the abundance of churches around the country. Today we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. It was absolutely astounding how much history can be packed into one building. The stain glass was mesmerizing and the essence of the building was captivating. While we were there, many people were also there taking in the beauty of the place. To me, it showed that people can still in awe of such grandeur and history. Also, when we were in Killarney there was a church on nearly every street corner. In many of the movies we watched in class, there was an ongoing theme of religion or Catholicism. So, it definitely shows that the movies were getting at something. We saw the religion theme in The Quiet Man, My Left Foot, and Five Minutes in Heaven. Each movie had its own depiction of religion, of course. I would say the most evident would be The Quiet Man.  


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