Thursday, March 17, 2011

Memories of Ireland, part 2

I wrote about my first visit to Ireland last week, and that visit only began a long-term interest in (even fascination with) the place.

In college, one of the first classes I took was on Irish literature. I'd read the poetry of Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland in high school, and I knew I wanted to know more. That class was one of the best I ever took -- and Eavan Boland even came to read and speak to the class!

The next year I took the same professor's course on Joyce's Ulysses (a great comic book version is online at "Ulysses Seen"), and it was a crazy ride.  I had known before I even went to college that I wanted to spend a year abroad, and reading Joyce's tribute to Dublin cemented in my mind exactly where I wanted to go. His novel is a masterpiece, but I couldn't truly understood it until I lived in Dublin and 1) understood just how walkable it is and 2) really got to know the culture, which, while it is obviously not the same as it was at the turn of the 20th century, still retains echoes and remnants of that time and place.

“For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”

Below are some of my best and most indelible memories of going to Trinity College Dublin for my junior year. Some were entirely cliche, and a lot were entirely unexpected:

  • In my first week in Dublin, meeting the coach and captain of the Rowing club at noon and drinking Guinness and "Baby Guinnesses" (a delicious shot made of Kahlua with a Bailey's floater) with them until midnight.
  • Getting to live in a beautiful Georgian house south of the city center in a converted parlor with high ceilings and plasterwork, a giant marble mantle, and almost no heat.
  • Using electric showers and heating up water in the teakettle to do dishes since the hot water heater only was on for one hour a day.
  • Riding my loaner bicycle the half an hour from my house to the boathouse on the Liffey every morning in the dark, facing into a cold, harsh wind coming straight off the Atlantic, and smelling the warm, comforting scent of roasting barley and malt as I passed by the Guinness factory.
  • Going to a Sunday dinner at a friend's house and being served a gorgeous mash of carrots, turnips, and parsnips, a sliver of turkey, and three preparations of potatoes: roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, and home-made chips (aka french fries)!
  • Participating in boat races on rivers where the mile markers were ancient, broken-down castles and centuries-old bridges.
  • Discovering that the Irish version of Mardi Gras is "Pancake Tuesday" -- kind of dull compared to parades, but still delicious.
  • Going to businesses and places in Dublin that are recorded in Ulysses. Also, forgetting about Bloomsday (June 16th) and only remembering the next day that I had missed the 99th anniversary of the day of walking that is recorded in Ulysses!
  • Taking a great survey course on Irish History from 1800 to the present, but never quite understanding how the parliamentary system worked.
  • Being in an international, cosmopolitan city of over a million people -- and yet running into someone I knew every time I went out shopping.
  • Losing the heel of a new shoe while running around on cobblestones on a night out.
  • When spring came, standing under a giant horse-chestnut tree on Leinster Road and looking up into its wide, spreading branches and feeling as though I was in a cathedral made from delicate green light.
  • Late summer nights when the twilight did not fade until 11 PM and the dawn came at three AM.
  • Going to plays at the Abbey Theatre, the same one that all the classic  plays I was reading in my classes were performed in.
  • By the end of my year in Ireland, after meeting people from Belfast, Coleraine, Enniskillen, South Dublin, North Dublin, West Dublin, Galway, Cork, Drogheda, managing to aquire a pretty good ability to tell what county (and sometimes city or part of a city) someone was from based on their accent.
  • And many more adventures... too many to write out here without boring you all :)
Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you all!



Simply Smitten said...

Sounds like you'll be wanting to revisit someday... :)

OnePerfectDay said...

I was looking out for this (as part1 implies a part2....)
I love the sound of it!
Happy St.Patrick's Day to you!

Tricia said...

I liked reading about your memories! I studied abroad in England during my junior year and my memories from that year will always be near to my heart!

TheForestFaery said...

Sounds incredible! Except for the no-heat/no hot water. I wouldn't like that part as much. ;D

I love reading about your trip! I want to travel someday. :)

Melissa at said...

I've always wanted to go there... I've spent time in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, but still haven't made it to Ireland. Thanks for sharing the wonderful memories of your time there!

I'm a member of Etsy Bloggers Team and am now following you!


Tina S said...

@SimplySmitten -- That's part 3 and 4! haha.

i study Irish literature, so I try to travel there for "research" purposes as often as I can. haven't been back in two years or so now, which breaks my heart a little.

Amanda said...

This -- Getting to live in a beautiful Georgian house south of the city center in a converted parlor with high ceilings and plasterwork, a giant marble mantle, and almost no heat -- sounds totally amazing.

Was it as romantic as it all sounds?

Tina S said...

@ Amanda.... you know, at the time, I was just really cold :) I wore a sweater inside all the time and my mom shipped me over ugg boots to keep my feet warm (they weren't selling them in Ireland yet).

But, I was completely in love with Dublin from the minute I set foot in it. It is still my favorite city, bar none, even if it isn't the prettiest or the most exciting. It has an intimacy to it that I adore. I loved the history of the place I lived in Dublin, the fact that the stone steps up to the door had been used for hundreds of years, and thinking about how the design of the house (kitchen in the basement!) reflected centuries of the house's life without modern conveniences.

I shared the house with 6 Irish girls, and I only got along with about half of them, which dragged down the experience of living there sometimes, and the oven was shitty and electric, and so were the burners. I love to cook, so that was rough. And there was carpeting in the bathroom, which was just weird. But it was all part of what was overall a wonderful experience.

jennasaurus said...

Hi from your newest follower... I just found your blog on the handmadeology etsy team discussion page. I'm trying to visit as many of the blogs on the thread as I can :) Please visit and follow my blog, too!


(I am planning a trip to Ireland and a bunch of other places in about 2 years with my husband... reading this makes me so eager to go!)

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