This is the Atlantic Jackknife clam. It’s a mollusk that can be found all along the east coast of the United States as well as more recently in Europe where it is classified as a harmful exotic species. It gets it’s name from the fact that it looks like an old style straight razor (which a similar species is named after) Not only this but its sleek body is very sharp and can slice your poor unprotected food open if you step on it, so don’t do that. This body and its strong muscle “tongue” make it a capable swimmer and a fantastic digger. In fact it is able to dig so fast that often people are unable to dig to keep up with it. If you ever want to prepare your own delicious Jackknife Clam dish, quite a delicacy, simply poor salt onto there breathing holes. They will attempt to escape from this salt by coming to the surface and you can easily grab them and they will already be partially seasoned!
After today was over my feet were screaming at me to please kill them and put them out of their misery. Everyday we walk everywhere but this one pushed me to my limits. To start off we headed to the Leinster House, or the houses of the Irish Parliament (Oireachtas.) Sadly we were unable to see the houses in session due to this week being a Local and European election week. Regardless we got to enter the chambers and hear about how the political process works. For more complete information on this I highly recommend you check out my friend Adam’s Blog, as he is our resident political buff. At the end of the tour we were able to exam one of the original copies of the “Proclamation of the Irish Republic.” I found it very interesting that they used a printing press to make this historic document as it meant that multiple original copies of the document existed instead of a solitary one. Despite this only twelve have survived, and we have had the privilege to see three of the originals over the past few days. You can tell that they are original because the British had smashed apart the printing equipment causing the original drafters to have to improvise a bunch of letters. You can find throughout the document where old style c’s were used to replace e’s and P’s to replace r’s.
From here we journeyed towards the National Museum of Ireland at the old Collins Barracks. Here we saw a wonderful if not haunting exhibit over the events of the 1916 Easter Rising. Throughout the entirety of the last semester, and every day exploring historic Dublin we have been constantly immersed in the events of the Easter Rising. What the National Museum of Ireland did was start to contextualize all of these events. It really also begin to bring forth the personal elements of the uprising. No matter how much you research and learn about the Easter Rising and Irish rebellion you never can really understand the personal aspects of it, till you begin to become immersed in them. Seeing the death certificates of the 12 men by execution really had this touching impact on me. I begin to see that they were more then just these grand characters and heroes, but they were human, they had families, friends, loves, and losses. This is the real personal tragedy of all conflict where as history goes on, we lose site of the fact that the majority of these people were not grandiose heroes of lore. Instead they were much like you or me, reacting to a situation that they found themselves in, and making decisions and choices which had terrible costs and wondrous rewards.
Now after this we broke off into our buddie groups. It was a chance to get to know the others we might not talk with as much in our group. I was lucky enough to get to go with the absolutely lovely Marie. Like me she is absolutely crazy about walking and journeying so we had it set in our minds to walk all the way to the ocean. Though I could describe this pilgrimage to the Irish Sea, its a journey best seen. (This is also where Mollusks came from in case you were still a bit confused.)
This trip was a grand total of 10 miles from start to finish and by the end we were completely knackered. There wasn’t much time to rest though as I had some plans for the night. Jazmin had invited me to go with her on a pub crawl with a local Irish woman who had worked in the same lab back in Denver, that Jazmin was about to start working at. Though we had never met them before nor did we have any idea what to expect, I was excited because it would allow me to have an actual Irish viewpoint of everything I had learned about and experienced. Susie and her husband Travis greeted us at our hotel and we wandered down to a nearby bar. They instantly struck me as very friendly and wonderful individuals.
They wanted to know how much we understood about the troubles and the history of Ireland. This quickly turned into a conversation about how religion wasn’t really the cause of the troubles within Ireland, as it is often discussed in the States, but instead this was just the backdrop and an easy way to divide the sides. Instead we went through the history starting from the original occupation of Ireland in 1169. This brought up discussion of the pale, which was the area of control underneath the English. The rest of the country was still under the “wild” Irish control. This is what led to the phrase beyond the pale. We then moved to the discussion of the Plantation of Ulster and how this brought a large population of protestants into Northern Ireland. This of course was one of the major factors that led to the issues that Ireland is still facing today. Susie talked about how she had been asked back in the states, if she hated the protestants because she was from the Republic of Ireland. She was kind of taken back by this question, and quickly responded no. In her opinion the majority of people in the Republic of Ireland have no problem with Protestants or with the issues of Northern Ireland. The younger generation really doesn’t have a problem, or a true connection to the issues besides the importance of the history.
Throughout the entire night we traveled around the heart of Dublin, talking about Irish political election issues, US gun laws, drug legalization, the Gaelic Athletic Association and a wide variety of other topics. The conversation was never truly heated and there was a light attitude throughout the entire evening. Plenty of jokes, pointing out of Irish behaviors, and how Americans tourists are viewed. It was a wonderful time, as they say the Craic was good, and by the end of the night I had been invited to have dinner at their house, and spend the night when I came back to Dublin before my flight home. The hospitality and openness of Susie and Travis was everything that I had heard about the Irish people and it was fantastic to actually experience it first hand. I can’t wait to see them again in a few weeks!