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Cross-Cultural Program: Ireland and Northern Ireland 2001
Group Journal Nov 18-Dec 4

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  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)

Sunday, November 18, 2001



Monday, November 19, 2001

Today was designated as the day to visit museums and art galleries, although some had chosen to do that on their free Friday. This turned out to be a less than ideal day for this activity, since most of the museums are closed on Mondays. However, the National Gallery was open and several of us went there.

Opened to the public in 1864, this museum contains many wonderful works of art. George Bernard Shaw was a benefactor, leaving a third of his estate to the museum. More than 2,000 works are on display in the gallery; every major school of European painting is represented. Unfortunately, since they are preparing for a major Impressionists exhibition in January 2002, many of the wings were closed. There is an entire room dedicated to the works of Jack Yeats, brother of poet W.B. Yeats. Jack Yeats was a powerful 20th century artist and is probably the best known of the Irish painters. Other highlights include works by Monet, Caravaggio and Reubens.

The coastline viewed from the James Joyce tower

On Friday past, some students went to the National Museum. The Treasury houses priceless items like gold torcs (collars), rings and necklaces from Ireland's Bronze Age; other exhibits include Irish silver and glassware. Various wings contain many artifacts such as the flag which flew over the General Post Office during the Easter Rising of 1916, the Cross of Cong (dating from 1123), the Tara Brooch, an 8th century Meath County piece, and scientific instruments dating back to the 1500's.




Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Our day began with a ride on the DART - Dublin Area Rapid Transit - out to Sandycove, a suburb of Dublin.
The James Joyce Tower
The James Joyce Tower
There we visited the Martello tower known as the James Joyce Tower. This is one of 15 defensive towers built between Dublin and Bray (a southern suburb) in 1804 to withstand a possible invasion by Napoleon.

James Joyce actually only spent one week of his life here, as a guest of the poet Oliver St. John Gogarty, who rented the tower as living space for only 8 pounds per year. Just before coming to stay with Gogarty, Joyce had written some rather nasty things about him and some of the other literary figures in Dublin, and Gogarty hadn't had time to retract the invitation. He did, however, get so angry at Joyce during his brief visit that, late one night when Joyce was asleep, Gogarty shot at the shelf of pots and pans above Joyce's head. Joyce left half-dressed and walked the 5-6 miles back to Dublin. Ever since Joyce's novel Ulysses was successful, the tower has been known as the James Joyce Tower; it houses a small museum honoring Joyce, and the curator was kind enough to give us a private tour and a short lecture on Joyce. A few of us resolved to read Ulysses, since none of us had - a fact which proved rather embarrassing as the curator waxed rhapsodic over the book!

James Joyce Tower tour
On tour inside the tower

In the afternoon, Clare McCutcheon, a member of the Fine Gael political party, gave us her perspective on politics in the Republic of Ireland, as well as helping us to understand the workings of the Irish government.




Wednesday, November 21, 2001

This was a day left free for studying and working on the political science projects due at the end of the semester.

In the evening, half of the group went to the Abbey Theatre to see a play called The Gigli Concert by Tom Murphy. The story was about a man who wanted to "sing like Gigli", a turn-of-the-century Italian opera star, and the man he came to for help, a sort of therapist. By the end of the play, we found out that the man was suffering from depression, as he had before, and he really had no desire to sing... it was just a ploy to talk to someone. The story was a bit hard to follow at times and rather depressing, but the acting was fabulous. It was the kind of story where you find yourself drawn in against your will to care about the characters. A few people left bewildered, and none of us felt like dancing, but it was a good evening of theatre.




Thursday, November 22, 2001

Thanksgiving Day!
Thanksgiving meal
Thanksgiving Meal
It's definitely a terrible thing to be away from our families on a day like today - but even though we're in Ireland, the celebration committee made sure that our day was special.

We had a Thanksgiving dinner at Wynn's Hotel on Abbey Street in the heart of Dublin. It was a dressy affair, with soup (Cream of Winter Vegetable) or salad (with avocado, crispy bacon and spicy tomato dressing), turkey and ham or salmon - both with fresh vegetables and potatoes - and a huge dessert array followed by tea or coffee. We rolled ourselves out of the hotel after the affair richer by our graduation scarves - silk/velour with Celtic designs - and our independent travel money - 350 pounds (that's about $525). Needless to say we were all excited about the money, much more than we were expecting!

The day ended with half of the group attending the Abbey Theatre to see the play Whistle in the Dark. This was a thought-provoking and very good drama about some of the evils of Irish life.

All in all it was a very special day, even though we were sad not to be with our families.
--Holly Miller




Friday, November 23, 2001

Each of us made his or her own way, by bus or on foot, to Kilmainham Gaol this morning for our final group tour of the semester.

Main hall of Kilmainaim Gaol
The main room of Kilmainham Gaol

Built on Gallow's Hill, about 3 miles from the centre of Dublin, Kilmainham Gaol took 9 years to build and was ready for its first inmate in 1796. Over the years it was in operation, until 1924, this facility housed rebels from the Rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848 (during the Famine), the 1867 Rising, the Land War of 1881, the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence (1919-21) and the Civil War (1922-24), as well as many men, women and children who were common criminals.

Kilmainham's list of inmates clearly shows the history of Ireland's fight against British rule... Robert Emmet - executed after leading the 1803 Rebellion, Charles Stewart Parnell - campaigner for Home Rule, Joseph Plunkett - married to his sweetheart Grace Gifford just a few hours before he faced the firing squad, James Connolly - so severely wounded that he had to be tied to a chair for his execution, other participants in the 1916 Easter Rising, and Kilmainham's last prisoner, Eamon de Valera, released in July 1924. We toured the wings and saw the cells where these brave rebels were kept as well as the punishment cells and the hanging room; we stood where members of the Easter Rising were taken out and shot. This was a very powerful visit, bringing home to us just how much men and women were willing to endure for Ireland's freedom from Britain.

Kilmainham hallway

One of the hallways of Kilmainham

Walking around Kilmainham Gaol brought out a very powerful feeling and made the feeling come alive. Our tour guide did a great job sharing the realities of the Easter Rising leaders' imprisonment and executions there. The lives of the people that lived in imprisonment were depressing and it was very shocking that there were children as young as 5 years old being held there. The lives of the early prisoners were 5 people to a small cell with only one bed and no glass in the windows, which was tough with the weather conditions. It is hard to imagine that people living during the Great Famine would commit crimes to go there so they would have shelter and a meal. It was obvious when walking around the jail that life was tough for the people imprisoned there.
-- Jonathan Hewes

It has been a long journey full of challenges, excitement, easy and hard times, but we have finally made it to the last ten days of our trip. Everyone is eagerly anticipating leaving for free travel for the final week before going home. Approximately half the group is traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland. Others are going to London, Wales and Amsterdam. I myself am traveling to the tropical Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, where I will be basking in the warm sun. Tomorrow we will be going our separate ways in search of places unknown. In a week we will come back together and go to Corrymeela for the final two days of our adventures in Ireland.
--Eloy Rodriguez



Saturday, November 24 - Saturday, December 1, 2001



Sunday, December 2, 2001

Everyone arrived safely back in Belfast last night,
The group at the Christmas banquet
The group at our Christmas banquet
and we met up at the Belfast International Hostel to happily greet each other after being (mostly) apart for a week and to tell stories of our travels. This morning we loaded up the bus, with the help of our wonderful driver Michael, and set off for Corrymeela. We arrived in time for lunch, met by Mervyn, and settled into our rooms. For this brief stay we were lodged in the main house, which is much more comfortable than the Village where we spent our two weeks at midterm. It meant we didn't have to go out into the gale force winds and driving rain if we didn't want to!

A few of us attended worship, along with a group of pre-teenagers who'd been at Corrymeela for the weekend. Hard to believe it's the first Sunday of Advent already.

Most of the day was free to re-pack, cramming in all those gifts for friends and family, and to lie around and relax after a hard week of vacation!

Fun with paper hats
Havin' fun with paper hats

The bus came to pick us up, dressed in our "pretties", at 6:30. We proceeded to the Causeway Hotel (next to the Giant's Causeway) for our Christmas dinner. We were joined by Mervyn, who is definitely part of our family, and our bus driver Michael and his lovely wife Kathleen. We had a nice large room to ourselves, and the tables were nicely set, complete with Christmas crackers. If you're not familiar with those, they're nicely wrapped paper tubes filled with a paper hat, jokes and a little plastic toy - when you pull the ends of the crackers, they pop!

We thought you'd like to see the menu we had to choose from, in case you were feeling sad about us being so far from home! After we sang the first verse of Joy to the World as our prayer, we selected from the following:

Pearls of Melon laced with a Cointreau and Demerara Syrup
Roast Apple and Carrot Soup
Trio of deep-fried Cheese on a warm Cumberland Sauce
Peppered Mackerel
Vegetable Broth

Main Courses
Roast Stuffed Turkey & Ham
Chicken Fillet stuffed with Cambazola Cheese wrapped in Bacon on a Port and Cranberry Sauce
Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Garlic and Rosemary Jus
Seared Fillet of Salmon
Grilled Sirloin of Steak with Blue Cheese Butter
Mediterranean Vegetable Tartlet

Carrots - Brussel Sprouts - Roast Potatoes and Champ

Choice of Freshly Prepared Sweets

Mince Pies, Dinner Mints
Tea or Coffee

After Dinner... nice "Zoolander" face, Matt!
After dinner

Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, staggering back to Corrymeela with satisfied smiles on our faces.

The bus ride home was a little rowdy, especially since some people were seen eating sugar directly from the packets after dinner!



Monday, December 3, 2001

Our last day of meetings together here in Ireland! After breakfast, we met to discuss our schedule of departure and our exams and meetings back at EMU. Following this, Mervyn came to talk to us about what we would take home from Ireland... knowledge, emotions, relationships, and many other things (not including lots of luggage). This was a good time to brainstorm about good and bad events on this trip as well as recommendations for the possibilities of future cross-culturals to Ireland. Mervyn works with the Bluffton program as well as with others, so he appreciated our input.

Derek talking
Derek talks about plans for chapel

The afternoon was spent packing and going to town - again in gale force winds and rain - after which we got together to plan our chapel presentation, to be given on Monday the 10th. The committee decided there would be cultural presentations of language, whistle and dance, and the political views we encountered and the personal stories of people we met will also be shared.

Those who'd finished their packing watched movies in the evening; others crammed things into suitcases and prayed they wouldn't have to pay for overweight luggage! Some slept, others stayed awake for their last night on Irish soil.




Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Well, it's finally here... the day we go home. For some of us, this day couldn't come soon enough. Some have been missing boyfriends or girlfriends since they stepped on the bus to Dulles in September. For others, it's a bittersweet time... looking forward to seeing friends and family, but hating to leave such a beautiful country, such warm, friendly people.

Regardless of our personal feelings, we loaded the bus at 6:30 a.m. (ick) in the dark, windy, rainy pre-dawn, and Michael drove us to Belfast. We arrived in good time for our 9:00 a.m. check-in, and as we pulled into the Belfast City Airport, the sun rose across the mountains over the city. What a lovely morning to say goodbye!

Despite some of our fears, everyone got their luggage checked with no major searches or overweight charges, and we boarded the flight on time. The London transfer was also very easy, and we had time for lunch (how many of us hit McDonald's, be honest!) as well as shopping at the duty free shops. Last chance to spend those sterling pounds! The thrifty among us just went to the Bureau de Change and got dollars for their pounds.

Our flight left London on time, at 3:30 p.m. We had a good flight, all 8 hours of it, with movies, meals and sleep for a few lucky ones. We landed and were met by moms/dads/siblings, boyfriends and girlfriends, good friends and a few customs officers who couldn't have cared less about what we'd brought with us. We couldn't believe how warm it was - it felt like it was still September and we'd been in a time warp for three months! We said goodbye to each other, until Monday at least, and went our various ways.

Welcome Home Everyone!



Let's go see some more pictures!
More Pictures...


HomeJournalsLinksWebteamMapsOld Site
  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)