After flying from Columbus to Philadelphia to Dublin, Ireland, I finally made it! Below is how my first day of studying abroad went and the different key points I learned. I’ll start off with an overall message and then continue with more daily details:).
“The emotions were with them”
While walking the streets of Ireland on the 1916 Tour, I learned about the historical process leading up to the country’s independence while hearing the eruption of a political rally actively taking place in Dublin. The emotions that are connected to all political action plays an important role in politics (regardless of country or time period). The connection of emotions to politics was an important message to understand when learning about Ireland’s history. For deep belief in their political views and emotional attachment to being independent of England was a key role in Ireland’s independence.
The day’s details
As tired as I expected to be starting off the day with two hours of sleep, the feeling of excitement towards being in Ireland was more than enough to keep me going! As a smile formed on my lips when the plane touched down, I realized I was finally in Ireland. After getting off the plane and meeting up with the group, we all got on the bus and headed to Dublin. While in Dublin we got a quick lunch before heading on a 1916 Tour of the area. It started at Trinity College (what originally was an all Protestant college). Trinity continues to be a place of study, however, now it is more open to people of different religions. During the conflict, the British government would occupy colleges, and the divide would cause people of different religions to attend different schools. Part of the process of creating shared spaces is the act of uniting people in places of school and work in order to bring the two sides together in peace.
Additionally, while on the tour we were introduced to many different rebellion sites and discussed how the Irish used Guerrilla warfare to weaken British forces in order to fight for their independence. Many historical sites suffered during the attacks. While on the tour, I found it interesting how these important structures were being preserved throughout the city. Developments were added on to these historical cities and the memory of these events was kept as a way of remembering those affected by the conflict. One major person discussed was Michael Collins. He came up with the Urban Guerrilla Warfare tactic that was a major fighting component in the success of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to get southern Ireland free of British Control. These places still have holes and dents from gunshots fired during times of conflict. These structures have been preserved due to their importance while also being built around in order to continue advancing the area. This way the history of the conflict is remembered, respected and preserved while also allowing the country to rebuild.
After, we went on to discuss the challenge of maintaining a language and its connection to cultural rights. Since only a third of the Irish population still says they can speak Gaelic (and even less speak it as a primary language) the issue of maintaining the Irish native language as a part of the culture is important. As we walked down streets of Irish people going about their daily lives most of them conversed in English. It is said that the language transition was due to the feasibility of using English since it is a commonly spoken language. The tour guide went on to say how it is Irish people’s responsibility to make learning their native language a priority in order to preserve their culture in today’s world. This conversation connected to the idea that a language only survives in a community of people who choose to speak it. This showed how the use of a language is a delicate and group-oriented achievement.
After the tour, we drove to Northern Ireland. Then, we went to Molly’s Yard to have an incredible dinner. There, we discussed how we felt after our first day in Ireland. Overall, the day was exciting and made me ready to wake up and continue learning more.