Dingle Pub Culture

There are over fifty pubs dotting the Dingle peninsula. The people of this people have physically demanding jobs and they all appreciate and very much deserve a cold pint at the end of the day. The towns of the Dingle peninsula would often be nothing more than a collection of a few houses, a church, and a general supply store/inn/pub. Not much has changed since we have entered the modern world and they still remain quaint little villages. With the increase in tourism and trade these original store fronts have had to transform. Though many memories of their past lives as stores still remain. Some bars are decorated with old clothes and shoes from their days as a shop. All the pubs walls will be decorated with pictures and articles of those locals who have been visiting their establishments for generations. This is how Judy found out about the Blasket island people and by extension met Mike Carney, more on his story later.

At the same time this pub culture has of course attracted tourism. With the renown beauty of the Dingle peninsula and Blasket islands there has been a large influx in tourist in recent years.In fact this is as large part, like the rest of Ireland, of the economy today. This means that there has been a plenty of new pubs popping up to cater to these tourists. For those who want the Ireland experience without the true authenticity of an old style Irish Pub then these are the places to go. The majority of pubs will still contain the old crowd though. Old men sitting around talking of times long gone and how the world seems now day. Young men having a good laugh winding down the stress of the day. Of course at all of the pubs will be great traditional music performed by locals, in which the music tradition runs deep. Sure some bars are purely local and the old timers might give you a disgruntled look viewing you as a tourist intruder. You must be respectful and understanding places like this . After all this is their land their history and coming in like you own the place is a quick way to have the population have a distaste for you. The majority of pubs this is nothing to worry about, but still that respect is important. No matter where you choose to go in dingle there will be good food, good drinks, good people, good music, and good craic. I’m really looking forward to this laid back atmosphere. It will be the perfect wind down from the hustle and bustle of the northern country.

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Bombing in Context and Love

It may be long but it is definitely worth the read.

Last night while the group of us were out having a grand ol time at a pub listening to live music sinister things were afoot in the town of Londonderry. Throughout the entire stay in Derry it seemed like the town was truly healing its deep-seated wounds. Everyone was warm and friendly and seemed to all be seeking peace and an end to this conflict. Despite this there will always be hatred in this world, people who strive to cause chaos in the name of “freedom” or “justice.”

Last night a fire bomb was set off in a hotel about two miles from where we were staying. A man walked into the Everglades Hotel and placed a package at the front of the reception. He declared himself a member of the IRA, though the actual IRA has been disbanded for quite a few years and only splinter groups exist now, and he told everyone they had forty minutes to evacuate the hotel. The hotel acted swiftly and was able to get everyone to safety. The bomb exploded while the bomb crews were attempting to disarm it but no one was injured or killed. It has been two and half years since there was even a threat of a bombing here in Derry. Though it may seem like a step back for this city I believe if anything it shows how much the city has changed in recent years. Members from both sides of the conflict had condemned this as a terrible act, and an attack against not just a building, or a people, but the city as a whole. The people of Derry are looking for peace, they are looking to move on from the struggles of the past. Having an attack as this be so widely hated by every member of the community shows a huge amount of growth, and it shows hope that the future will be brighter.

I was going to talk about the bomb attack for this entire post but that was before Judy stumbled across an event happening tonight. It was a little play called Unspoken Love. I really had no clue what to expect from this play. All I knew about it was that it was about mixed marriages in Northern Ireland. I figured it would be pretty sad and dry and just had no real drive to see this. All that mattered to me was that it didn’t cost me anything and that hopefully we would get out of it soon enough so I could go do some homework. So we set out for the play house with my expectations and hopes set pretty darn low.

The venue hosting was a Theater of Witness, a form of play that scripts out the true stories told by the actual individuals. It’s a unique form of theater as these are not trained actors, there just people like you and me with extraordinary stories to tell. Tonight’s show focused on the stories and lives of two mixed marriages in Northern Ireland. Two protestant men and their stories falling in love and marrying two catholic women, each with a unique history. Throughout the entire performance I was on the edge of my seat. They all told terrible stories of heartbreak and loss; happiness and love.

One man, Roley, learned late in his life  that he had been put up for adoption by his grandmother, and the girl he thought was his sister was actually his mother. Throughout his entire life he was harassed for being a protestant including daily beatings and shaming.  He endured through this pain and fell in love with a women, Jo,  who had lost her mother at an early age. Her father was very adamant about her never allowing a protestant man step inside his household let alone marry his daughter. As the years went by his walls crumbled, and this Protestant Roley became like the son he never had, and this catholic man like the father he never had. Of course this marriage only brought more attacks and shame on Roley and Jo. They received death threats in the mail, were followed home at nights, and lived in constant fear for each other. They endured though, they fought on, because religion didn’t matter in their love. They saw each other as people, someone they cared immensely for, and the color of their coat never mattered to them.

The second couple consisted of a women, Sharon, and her husband Stephen. Sharon had grown up with a father who loved the bottle more than he ever loved her. Every night she would sit at the window waiting for him to come home, hoping that he would come home, and often he never did. She spent her entire life looking for someone to fill that void, someone to love her, to show her attention, to care for her. Then she stumbled across Stephen. A recluse who had his entire life focused on teaching and playing golf. For months she tried to get his attention, but he never got the hint. Not until she “accidentally” on purpose left her purse at  the golf club was she able to finally get him to take her out. She didn’t realize until a few months later why he had been such a solitary individual, the terrible burden he carried.

Stephen had just turned 18 and was on the way to attending church with his family. Him and his father, a protestant retired police officer, dropped off the rest of the family outside the church and then went to park the car. One instant they were walking from the car park towards the church, the next Stephen was pinned under rubble and rocks. Ears ringing eyes burning he looked to his left where he saw his father. His father was missing his entire face and a majority of his head, he was killed instantly. Stephen had been in the middle of the Enniskillen Remembrance Day Massacre. A bomb placed by the IRA that was meant to target British Soldiers ended up killing 10 civilians and a police officer. While reading about this online it seems like just a statistic. A moment that was a turning point in the troubles and a serious loss of face for the IRA. Right in front of us was a man who had survived this attack, and it was more than just a new story, and article online, a statistic it was real. He found peace finally in his wife Sharon. They each needed each other, in their moments of weakness they knew that they would be there for each other to support to love to care. With this, again, religion never mattered, all that existed was the love.

Hearing these stories was the most powerful experience of the trip thus far. All around me people were crying, I had tears welling up in the corner of my eyes as well. Not for the pain, loss, or suffering that each of these individuals had gone through. Instead I was immensely touched by the sheer force of the love that existed between these couples. The way they stared deeply into each others eyes as they told their stories. The gentle grasping or subtle touch with their hands. The expressions of pain in the faces as their lovers expressed their deepest pains. The way I love you was pure and genuine, no need for it to be written into the script, because it was true, it came from their very core.

Love is the most powerful force that exists in this world. This is something that I have always lived my life by. You have seen this sneak through in some of my other blog posts, that I truly believe in the power of love. We may not always see it but it exists all around us, in people and in places.  When two individuals come together caring as much for each other as they do themselves, when they show the truest form of empathy, taking the pain of another upon their shoulders, that’s love. In love sides fall away, prejudices disintegrates, difference lose their meaning, and all that remains is the pure soul of another being, its beautiful.  It’s a rare thing it seems, but when you can see it in its true form it can move mountains. This was the perfect ending to our discussion of the troubles. Since the beginning of last years semester we have constantly been exposed to all the complexities of the troubles. We have heard about the atrocities committed by both sides. We have toured the places where this country has seen some of its darkest moments. We stood in the exact places where innocent men women and children were murdered. We were two miles away from where someone tried to drag Derry back into its dark past with a firebomb. We read a letter that seethed with more hatred then I have ever experienced in my life. Despite all this, the thing we end with is hope. Hope that things can change. Hope that despite all the conflict in the history of Ireland the two sides can come together. Hope that his country can move on. Hope that a new light will overwhelm the darkness. Hope in the power of love.

Goodbye to such a beautiful city. Derry you will be missed.

Goodbye to such a beautiful city. Derry you will be missed.

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Amazing Just the Way You Are

The city of Derry is a wonderful old castle town. Our guesthouse is right outside the walled city center. You can easily hop up along the walls and look out across the beautiful city. I hope I can go on a run along the castle walls sometime while we are up here. In fact the first thing we did was go on a tour of the castle walls. We were able to learn the history of the city of Derrys as well as the Siege of Derry which took place in 1688 and 89. I’ll cover a little bit of this now, but like all our days we learn far too much to put into a few short paragraphs so I’ll try to be brief.

There was turmoil and strife in the land of Ireland, seems to the rule rather than the exception in this country. The conflict between the Catholic King James and his Son in Law King Billie has been spreading across Ireland. A Catholic army of Scottish Redshanks was approaching Derry and the town debated on weather to allow the army into the city or to keep them out. While in this debate 13 apprentice boys took matters into their own hands and ran around the city shutting and locking the gates. While the siege continued war fell across the rest of the country. James fled from the throne and William and his wife were declared King and Queen. With all the turmoil no relief or reinforcements could be sent to the besieged or the attackers. Finally on the 21st of March 1989 a fleet of protestant ships were able to arrive and break the siege of Derry. The apprentice boys are celebrated every year since then by marching around the castle walls and into the city. This use to cause a large amount of conflict as the order of the apprentice boys would proceed to get very hammered and then wander through the catholic neighborhoods beating Catholics and destroying property in the name of a grand ol time. In recent years there has been a peace and agreement between the two sides over this march. They are still allowed to march as long as they remain respectful to the people and property of Derry.

From here we headed down to the Bogside area to meet with our second guide Paul Doherty. Gleann Doherty is his younger brother who had guided us around the walls of Derry that morning. Both of them have a very personal history with the troubles and specifically Bloody Sunday. Their father Patrick Doherty was one of the fourteen  men and boys who were shot and killed by the British Armed Forces on Bloody Sunday. If this was any indication of the rest of the day it would be a very personal and emotionally tolling day. The tour took us around the streets of Bogside stopping at each point where someone was murdered, pictures shown and descriptions on how it happened. Standing there on the quiet streets, just a five-minute walk from our guesthouse, it seemed impossible that all this had happened.

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These murals dot the streets around Bogside, powerful testament to images captured during this time. Throughout the walk I was still most drawn to the strength of Paul. We stood at the exact  spot where Solider F knelt and shot Paul’s father in the back. It was then that Paul told us that he had no hatred for solider F. His hatred was directed towards the government that condemned and awarded the actions of these soldiers. He would rather see solider F behind bars then buried in the ground. This really moved me as it showed how much has changed in the past 30 years. Paul and Gleann could have given into the hatred and the anger and joined with the IRA like many youth of the era had. They could have locked up and boiled a deep-rooted hatred inside of them till the end of their lives. Instead they have found a way to cope by educating and teaching the likes of us. That’s what this country needs to heal. To end the cycle of hatred and revenge and instead teach the history, to avoid a repetition of the past.

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As we traveled around it became more and more evident how personal this conflict truly was. This is a theme I keep coming back to throughout all of my posts. When learning of these events it never really clicks that this wasn’t just Catholics vs Protestants, those oppressed vs the government. These were a people with a strong strength of community who came together to protect the people they loved and their way of life. Every few minutes we walked around with Paul someone walking by would say a quick hello to him, someone would honk and wave from a car. Everyone seemed connected, because this was all of their history. The Free Derry wall has been a symbol for this city since it was first graffitied on by a group of bored teenagers back in 1969. As I am typing this, one of those original teenagers is sitting across the window from me smoking a cigarette outside Peadar O’donnals Bar.  He was the one who told us that it wasn’t some grand message, they had been drinking and figured it would be a fun thing to do. They had no clue what an important part of history it would become.

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Read this letter. Seriously right now, before you read another sentence of this blog read it.

Alright you done reading it? You in shock, horrified, saddened, in a sense of disbelief? As I read this yesterday I couldn’t believe it, part of me is still in disbelief. It seemed fake, unreal that this much raw hatred exists. We all have heard of hate crimes, of racism, of acts of murder in the name of hatred. Yet it seems all distant to me. Something I never have truly experience. Reading this was the closest I have ever been to this hatred. It was shocking. I sat by that letter for thirty minutes watching the reactions of the people who read it. Gasping, whispered “Oh my God” tears building up in the wells of their eyes. This was the final push for me to truly connect with the Irish troubles. Monsters exist in this world, and Ireland still has plenty of their share. Despite this hatred though they have begun to rise from the ashes and come together and that is truly powerful.

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It was here at this monument  erected in memory of those that we heard the biggest message for hope. Paul Doherty told a story of a concert that took place last year. This show had a bunch of big name bands and drew a huge crowd of youth and adults into the Derry area. It took place at what was once the main British Barracks of the area, the same Barracks where the events for Bloody Sunday were planned. The last performance of the three-day festival was Bruno Mars singing “Just the Way You Are”. While he watched the videos and pictures of his daughters laughing and dancing to the song he realized how much had changed. Despite all the history and the struggle, here they were having the time of their life, where such tragedy happened all that time ago. Derry and Ireland has seen so much pain, but there is hope. Things are getting better, people are working together for peace. No it’s not over, there still needs to be healing, but Ireland is well on the way. After all it’s why we are here, why we came to this beautiful land. Its amazing, just the way it is.

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I Am Smile

Ireland has been described as a beautiful breathtaking country. I have always looked at photos of Ireland and though “Yeah, that looks amazing.” Let me tell you something, no matter how much you hear it described, no matter how many photos you see, nothing comes close to doing any justice to the power of this land. I know now why art and music are abundant here. In a land of some grand natural beauty, it becomes almost an instinct to try to capture some of this beauty, to explain this beauty to another. Traveling across the country on the way out of Belfast and onto Derry I just wanted to just sing out loud. We would all be talking in the back of the cab when a silence would take over. Sipping on a cup tea, fields of gold and green flashing by, “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman playing on the radio, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. This smile hardly left my face the entire trip as we traveled through this magical land.

This land has been magical enough to be the set for the epic fantasy Game of Thrones. The first stop we made was at the Dark Hedges which was used in filming part of the third season of the television show. The way the trees encase the road is just stunning, and until the series aired the majority of Irish people didn’t even know this place existed.

Of course as we got closer to the ocean it only got even more beautiful. You could smell the salty ocean air blowing from the coast, calling us. When we finally got out of the taxi’s we all looked at each other with this sense of wonderment and awe written across all of our faces. We were transformed into young children again, exploring this vast fantastic unknown world. Each sight and smell a new adventure. We all ran across the grass to the cliff sides and stared across the ocean spread out in front of us. I have felt this way only a few times in my life before. While traveling down the million dollar highway and staring out across the valley of Ouray Colorado, and while looking deep into the eyes of the girl I loved. Heart racing, my lips splitting apart in a smile, eyes blasted wide open, hope, wonderment, love; all this is the edge of life, the pinnacle of existence . I drew comparisons to traveling to loving someone, and let me tell you again, its true. This is an amazing country and I’m in Love.

It only kept getting better as we traveled on. There are simply not enough words to continue to describe how beautiful it was. Instead I’ll tell the legend of the next place we traveled to, The Giants Causeway. Fionn mac Cumhaill or better known as Finn McCool was an Irish Giant. Like all Irish, he had a fighting spirit and loved to pick fights with the nearby Scottish giants. He built a path of stones across the ocean, the giants causeway, to challenge the Scottish Giant Benandonner. As Benandonner approached Finn realized that he never could take on such a large giant so ran home to his wife Oonagh. Oonagh being a clever women disguised Finn as a child and hid him in a crib. When Benandonner came knocking she told him that Finn was out but he was welcome to stay and have some griddle bread. She hid an iron griddle inside the food so when Benandonner bit down he broke one of his teeth. Oonagh scolded him for being so weak and mentioned that even Finns child could eat these. She fed one cake to the disguised Finn with out the iron inside it. Benandonner impressed by the child’s strength stuck his finger into the cradle. Finn bit the finger right off. Benanadonner terrified of Finn “child” did not want to see how large and strong Finn must be so fled back to Scotland breaking the causeway as he went.

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Our final stop before heading off to Derry was Dunluce Castle. Before traveling around the castle we stopped at the cutest little place to have a bite to eat. I wish I could remember or find the place, but it was directly across from the castle. The potato and leek soup was to die for. The warmth and heartiness of the soup was reflective of the lovely women who ran the establishment. Constantly bringing us out more amazing food and the best scones I have had in my entire life. Seriously these scones are the things of legends. Flaky soft interiors, crusty exteriors and of course they were then topped with a mountain of whip cream and the juiciest strawberries. Sitting there reflecting on all we had seen I swear we must have all died in a terrible car accident somewhere in the country side and we had made it to Heaven. Life never felt so perfect.

We never got inside the castle as by the advice of our cab driver Peter, we should enter the cave below the castle. As he said “There is a sign that tells ya not to enter the cave, just go ahead and ignore that. Its amazing down there!” We did just that and scampered down the slippery rocks before sitting in the mouth of the cave.

The darkness of a gaping mouth with gnashers of rock

Shadows broken by shafts of life, the key.

A silence, waves washing in and out, serenity washing over me

Birds careening across the sky in one giant flock

nothing could ever upset thee

in the place of the rocks and sea.

Escaping from the turmoil in this protected dock

There ya go! Some terrible poetry, but sitting there really was a serene experience. I felt this desire this need to write poems to paint to express my thoughts in a form of art. Believe me I’m no poet, and I surly know it. (He He He…)  There is something about this country that awakens a creative spirit that resides in everyone. A spark that ignites a fire in your heart. The rest of the way to Derry I held my head out the window and sang my lungs out. Awash in bliss I was smile. I still am smile.

I Am Smile

I Am Smile

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Peace Does Not Come Through the Construction of Walls

Today we did one of the things I have been truly looking forward to on this trip, we took the Black Cab Taxi tour of Belfast’s peace walls and murals. Our Guides were three amazing individuals, Paddy, Sam, and Peter. Of course I had to share the cab with the one whose name I also shared and I’m glad I did. Peter was an absolutely fantastic and hilarious man with a very deep understanding of the issues of Belfast from both sides of the conflict. In fact the entire tour he always talked in plurals, that is always saying we and us when talking about unionists and loyalists. This way it made it impossible for us, or people of the neighborhood, to discern what side he actually fell on. This led to a great unbiased tour of the war that has raged across the streets of this city. We traveled around the Shankill Road and its conflicting street the Falls Road. Shankill is 100% absolutely protestant, as evident by the abundance of British flags and even the street curbs being painted red white and blue. This is where some of the worst fighting and conflicts have been in the Belfast area. It’s also where you find some of the most infamous murals.

These murals tell the history of the protestant people and reveal part of their underlying personality. To this day the Orange Order still celebrates the Protestant King Billie’s victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne. For this reason around July 12th, the largest march of the year, tensions are always very high in Belfast. The protestants wish to go on their historic march through the streets. The problem is many of these streets are Catholic neighborhoods who want no part of this parade entering their neighborhood. In fact due to being blocked from traveling down a particular road during last years parades  the Orange Order has set up a camp at the corner of the street. Every day they attempt to continue the march and are stopped by the police. This has cost millions of dollars over the past year. Though these murals are quite beautiful and contain a rich history they are not permanent. The more prominent ones stick around but often they are painted over and a new mural is put up.The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has started an initiative, “Re-imaging communities program.” This program seeks to replace the more violent and offensive murals with those that promote peace and unity. At the same time it aims to preserve the history of the murals that it removes. Each time a mural is removed they take and record a picture to be posted next to the new painting with a description of the last mural. Promoting this movement towards peace while preserving the history is what Ireland truly needs to move on and come together as one people.

Though I could talk about the various murals and the conflicts between the residence of Shankill Road and Falls road, there is just one more thing I want to talk about today, the wall that separates them. In 1969 the first peace wall was raised between these two neighborhoods. This was after an attack on the catholic neighborhood in which families were kicked out of their houses before they were burnt to the ground. After this giant walls were constructed all across the city to prevent these neighborhoods from fighting each other constantly. Forty of these walls have been constructed to this day and they are currently putting up a forty-first. This shows just how much conflict still exists to this day. Unlike the Berlin wall that was built to keep people in, these walls are built to keep people out and therefore the communities and neighborhoods have no desire to take the walls down. They have become historic landmarks which are decorated which tons of beautiful street art and thousands upon thousands of signatures and messages of peace. Notable celebrities, tourists, and locals each sign this wall, and our own group had the chance to add our messages as well.

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I Hate Technical Issues

At the Ulster Museum we focused on two exhibits concerning the troubles in Ireland. The first exhibit contained a collection of photographs from the time that were chilling and often haunting. Pictures taken as a bombs tear through the streets, or of the victims of these attacks. By each picture was a description of the events that had transpired up to that point. This was a great way to bring together the entire story of the troubles into one cohesive narrative.

As this trip goes on I seem to be engaging more and more with the populace of Ireland. Each day I feel like I’m getting a more personal understanding of the people and history of this place. What really resonated with me in the first Troubles Exhibit was something that was kind of shoved off in the corner. On a computer console hidden away at the back of the exhibit was a database filled with voice recordings of people who had been affected by the troubles. These stories ranged from a pregnant women being shot two times while driving past some British soldiers. A man whose cousin was mowed down outside his house on the way to his brothers wedding. A group of nurses who were shot while out on their lunch break. One of them being disabled for life.

You could hear the pain, the anger, the suffering, the remorse in their voices. Loss makes us all equal. No matter which side your on when you lose someone important a part of your soul gets torn away. Often this conflict the only way to turn was a path of revenge and hatred. These were not two faceless sides of soldiers battling against each other. They each have lost family and friends. They strike out against neighbors and coworkers. The reason this conflict is so deeply rooted is because it was so personal. The country was tearing itself apart in their agony. No matter how much I researched this and thought I understood, it really didn’t start to register with me until today.

This reflected over into the next exhibit we went to, the art of the troubles. These pieces touched on views from both sides of the conflict. They captured the raw emotion and expressed it in the beauty of art. One of my favorite pieces that was able to capture this was a done by Louis Le Brocquy. It’s called “Distant Image” and is in the same style as the majority of his art. Situated in the center of a white canvas is a single screaming face. Roughly done, it seems as if the scream itself is blurring the lines of the drawing. One red hand comes up block half his face as if protecting it from some known horror. This still next by a piece called the victim. A women covered in a white shroud, representing all those that have their lives during this conflict. Finally a sculpture by F.E. Mcwilliam called Woman in  bomb blast.  This was part of a set that had a contemporary view of the terrible events happening in Ireland. The cost that comes to the innocence of the country. The entire series of sculptures by him shows how women and children have suffered on the idiotic decisions of men, something that has  been shown throughout history.

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Finally we closed off our afternoon in the best way possible. We had high tea at the Europa  Hotel. This is the most bombed hotel in the entirety of Europe, with over fifty direct bomb attacks upon it, it has stood the test of time and is now a beautiful bustling four star hotel. Some of the most amazing tea I have ever had paired with trays full of delicious sandwiches and desserts was a true feast. Pair this with a fantastic conversation that bounced between religious viewpoints, world issues, and the uniqueness of our generation, and all I can say is today was a very fantastic day.

 

 

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“Things Work Out the Way They Are Meant To”

Yum Adorable, Delicious, and Magically Nutritious

Yum Adorable, Delicious, and Magically Nutritious

Kangaroos, not native to Ireland. Minus a few in the Dublin Zoo they have absolutely no presence in Ireland, but what you can find in Kangaroo meat. Let me tell you something kangaroos are delicious as they are cute. You may be thinking that its terrible, they are like an exotic animal why would you eat such a creature. Well I’ll give you quite a few reasons! For one it produces far less biological waste than cows do while also causing less damage to the ground. All though they are a protected species there exists such a large population of them and they reproduce so quickly that they are regarded as a pest in Australia. All this aside they are an extremely healthy meat. It contains far fewer calories and fat (<2%) then similar farmed animals such as cows. It has very good protein, omega-3s, and B vitamins. Next time you have the chance I highly suggest you try some kangaroo meat. 

As some of you may have noticed I am falling behind on my blogs. I get so invested in a single blog that I end up working on it for 3 or 4 hours and never get to the other one I need to do. So in an attempt to catch up these next few blogs will be a little bit shorter, I hope…

So today (a few days ago now) we started by visiting Queen’s University Belfast. This beautiful college was initially built in response to the construction of Trinity College Dublin.  It was planned as a nondenominational alternative to Trinity college, and to this day contains an eclectic unbiased mix of religious and cultural backgrounds. Its Alumni are also regarded as having contributed a great amount to this world across all fields. I have a friend who attended QUB on a study abroad last year and she absolutely loved it and attested to the fact that it is a wonderful university.

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From here we trekked across the entirety of Belfast to the Titanic Museum. Let me tell you, if the Guinness Factory was the Willie Wonka factory of Beers, then this Museum was the Willie Wonka factory of…well the Titanic I guess. I wasn’t able to take photos today due to issues I have been having throughout the trip but suffice to say this place was amazing. a-look-inside-belfasts-incredible-new-titanic-museum

 

Architecturally its brilliantly designed. Each one of the corners is set to the angle of the prow of the Titanic. After entering it and looking around it seems so tiny, like it should just be a short little stroll through the exhibits. We spent three four hours wandering around the halls and could have spent so much more time in there. They have completely re imagined what it means to be a museum and how to educate. The use of technology in the exhibits was far from gimmicky as it seems to be in most museums. Instead it was perfectly integrated to create a powerful learning experience that was enjoyable and quite interesting.

From their use of full room interactive projection screens to a dark trolley ride through the construction of the hull of the Titanic, it was a nonstop enjoyable experience. All nine of the gallery’s were deeply engaging. I could go on and on about the use of technology and how amazing this museum is, but why not spread some of this knowledge that I learned on to you? One of the exhibits I personally enjoyed was the map of the routes that each person of the titanic would have to take. An officer just sticking around the top deck without ever having to travel to any other part of the ship. On the opposite end of the spectrum was one of the most tiring jobs, the 1st class stewardess. She would be housed in the lower decks, run out to treat passages in the upper decks and have all the necessary to treat the passages located in the middle decks. Her days were spent running up and down back and forth across the entire ship.

As for the actual tragedy of the Titanic there is not much to tell in this post. The exhibit housed numerous personal accounts of sacrifice and loss that took place during those last few harrowing hours. These stories tugged at my heart-strings, and I felt the twang of loss and empathy for those on board. My words would do no justice to the ghostly words of those who survived. One thing I can say is that it truly was women and children first. I always knew this was the case for the Titanic but I really wanted to see the statistics of the amount of women vs men who survived the icy depths. Only 16% of the men who boarded the Titanic would ever see land again, whereas 72% of women survived. Of course we can’t forget the children, in which 50% perished.

Seeing these numbers in front of me combined with the personal accounts really made me realize the scale of the Titanic disaster. Before today it had been nothing more than a great tragedy which had inspired a movie I had seen as a child. Yet I feel like movies such as these are essential for our generation to understand the lives of those before us. The movie Titanic never resonated the  true feeling of tragedy and loss of the actual event, it only gave a glimpse of it. But this raised awareness triggers to desire to seek out more knowledge and a better understanding of this history. The same can be said for the Irish troubles and this entire Irish trip. Sitting behind a desk back in Denver learning about the history of Ireland was interesting and all but it all seemed very distant. Only by engaging directly with the material, from first and second-hand sources was I able to truly start empathizing and understanding. As the days go on, I begin to see deeper and deeper into the soul of this amazing people and the rich history that they bear.

*While walking back from the museum we passed through a food fare in which I had an amazing kangaroo burger, hence the opening paragraph. Seriously though, eat one! ”

 

 

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