Monday June 6th, 2015
I have spent this past week becoming more heavily immersed in the Irish literary culture, and have just come from an excellent play, Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O’Casey, set during the Irish War of Independence. Shadow centers on the mistaken identity of a building tenant who is thought to be an IRA assassin, and though I must confess that I have never spent any great time admiring the performing arts, I was intrigued by the action on stage and have resolved to see another play before I leave Dublin on the 25th.
I have continued to spend my weekends reading and writing in St. Stephen’s Green and Phoenix Park, trying to accomplish as much as possible in own work while simultaneously taking the time to appreciate the verdant landscapes. I often read by the pond in St. Stephen’s Green and, though I love Dublin, I must admit it is nice to find a place where I am not subjected to the horns of continuous traffic and can instead move at my own, slower, San Diego pace to relax and recuperate after entrenching myself in the bustle of city life for weeks.
Even now that I have acclimated to this new environment and established a daily routine, I still find myself in awe of the fact that I have been lucky enough to travel and work abroad this summer. Traveling in my youth has allowed me to develop a sense of independence and responsibility which I would not have otherwise been able to attain. But now, funnily enough, reality hits, and my parents are arriving in Dublin on a tour, so I will have a chance to have dinner with them once tonight before they head off again to see more of the world. I am greatly looking forward to this reminder of home before I finish my last few weeks working in Dublin. Until next week, Dubliners!
Monday, 29 June 2015
This past weekend I took some time to play tourist and see the Book of Kells and the Long Room of the Trinity College Old Library. Having spent the past semester studying English and Theology at Oxford, this text was of great interest to me for its insular art and historic influence. Attempting to read segments of the text also gave me a chance to refresh my Latin! Delectabilis esset. I was fascinated by the busts of so many great western writers and philosophers which lined the walls, and particularly the sculpture of Johnathan Swift, as I now find myself reading Gulliver’s Travels in pursuit of a closer connection to, and deeper familiarization with, more Irish writers.
Standing in the Trinity College Old Library Long Room
On Wednesday I led a field trip with my co-worker to hike Bray Head with a group of study abroad students from Cuthbertson High School, North Carolina. Since arriving in Dublin three weeks ago I had not yet left the city, and was excited to get some fresh air and exercise. The hike was picturesque, as we were once again treated to better weather than we had the right to hope for. Though I was wearing the wrong clothes (business casual, stupidly) the hike proved relatively easy as we reached the summit within an hour of our journey beginning.
The view from the top of Bray Head
After the hike I decided to lay low for the next few days and rededicate myself to appreciating that quiet beauty which Dublin has to offer. I often wrote in my journal by the ponds at UCD and St. Stephen’s Green, the latter being my favorite area in Dublin to date. My girlfriend Nikki and I each study literature, and have challenged each other to write every day. She bought me a journal while we were in Italy months ago, and I am happy to have the chance to put it to use in such a distinguished literary city. Though I haven’t had the chance to attend a Joyce reading at Sweny’s just yet it is on my list, and I plan on seeing to it shortly. For now, I am simply happy to enjoy my acclimation to city life. Until next week, Dubliners!
Writing in my journal at a pond in University College Dublin
Friday, 19 June 2015
As my second week in Dublin draws to a close I have come to familiarize myself more intimately with the Irish culture by participating in Bloomsday festivities, touring Dublin Castle, and wandering throughout the city at my leisure. I have avoided Temple Bar on my nights out, much to the approval of those Dubliners who are curious as to how I spend my time, and have instead explored several lesser known pubs in the surrounding area with my roommates in search of a more authentically Irish experience.
Walking the grounds at Trinity College
I am currently living in student housing at UCD, though I am working at American College Dublin until the end of the summer semester. On my morning commute I pass by a pond in the middle of campus where I read on my days off and, after exiting the bus near Merrion square, walk down past the nearby park and cross the street to the college. For such a large city Dublin feels remarkably structured, though not necessarily in the gridded sense one might relate to New York, in which buildings can appear maze-like and overwhelming. Rather, I feel Dublin has found a unique balance in the space of its wide-set streets and the generally friendly disposition of its populace which lends the Irish air an enigmatic charm.
Reading in Merrion Square Park
The stark juxtaposition of greying concrete structures alongside verdant parks and the rolling hills beyond strikes me as an attraction to the city in itself. The Irish culture within Dublin is unique in its own right, and what excites me most is how proud and acutely aware the Dubliners appear of their history, both political and literary. I stumbled into Sweny’s pharmacy today to explore the Joyce memorabilia and walked in on a public of reading of Joyce’s Dubliners. A woman greeted me at the door and invited me to sit and read with them, though I was on my lunch break and had not budgeted the time for any long digression away from my path back to the American College. I promised to return next week, and indeed I shall!
Until then, Dubliners. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Attending a Joyce reading inside of Sweny’s Pharmacy
Friday, 12 June 2015
I have come to Dublin this summer 2015 having spent the spring studying abroad at St. Clare’s College and Blackfriars Hall at the University of Oxford. I am here working as an administrative intern at American College Dublin, and while this is not my first experience abroad, I am still surprised by how ‘at home’ I feel in Dublin. Since my arrival the weather has cooperated to give me several sunny days, which I have taken advantage of to explore the city and its unique culture.
The Dubliners I’ve had the pleasure of meeting thus far have welcomed me with open arms. I suppose this is why the best free thing to do in Europe, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, is to have a pint with a Dubliner. I’m a California native, but even still, Dublin is the friendliest city I’ve encountered in my travels to date.
At my home institution, the University of San Diego, I study English literature and creative writing, so you can imagine my excitement at being able to come work at a college based in Oscar Wilde’s childhood home. Dublin has a fascinating literary history which involves my favorite novel, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and I’m glad to have arrived in Dublin just before Bloomsday! Even as I write this a small parade of cyclists in Edwardian dress have come by the college in an early parade celebrating Bloomsday! Though I have only been in Dublin for a week I am loving this experience and am excited for the coming months. Until next week, Dubliners!