GT in the EU

An extraordinary education

Month: June 2015 (Page 2 of 6)

Reflections on Ireland

On the plane into Dublin, watching the puffy white clouds that cover the country drift lazily below me, I formulated a question that I wanted to answer as I traveled throughout Ireland. What drove Irish creativity? It is a small country, and it has a population only about the size of metro Atlanta. Still, it managed to produce four Nobel Prize laureates in literature: Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, and Heaney; and sports a host of other artists, writers and musicians who have reshaped their respective fields. So what was it? The people? The history? The culture? The weather?

It’s complicated.

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Jails, Churches and London

To conclude our week in Ireland, a few of us took Friday to visit Kilmainham Gaol, an old Irish jail famous for its role in the prison reform movement and in imprisonment and execution of the leaders of the Irish uprising in 1916. The reforms this jail exemplified were separate cells, silence and supervision, meant to encourage reform instead of punishment for those it housed. The simplicity of these reforms surprised me because I had no idea of how prisons were run before the time of cells and guards. I also visited St. Patrick’s cathedral and was surprised to learn the role of Jonathan Swift in the church’s history because his works Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal didn’t strike me as religious.

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Our trip to Giant’s Causeway

After a few days of several phenomenal site visits and learning, our class had the pleasure of going on a day trip to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. We stopped at a few places along the way, which I’ll describe in more detail with pictures included. Warning: a very picture-heavy post, and extremely, extremely beautiful.

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Thinking about political conflict in Northern Ireland

Thursday, we took a fantastic bus tour of Northern Ireland. Amidst the awe-inspiring natural scenery and the seemingly cheerful towns, it was very easy to forget the magnitude of violence and strife that occurred there just a couple of decades ago. Our tour guide, Mac, described to us in detail the atrocities committed between unionists and nationalists in the adorable towns we passed. As we drove into Belfast, a seemingly peaceful city, he told us about the horrors experienced by a friend of his from university who spent his young adult life in jail after “getting caught up in that mess.” And as we soaked in the beauty of the Northern Irish coast, he told us how Protestants and Catholics, two sects of the same religion, two sides of the same coin, brutally murdered one another for years.

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