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Back to My Roots

Back to My Roots

One of the main reasons why I chose Ireland to study abroad, is because of my family background. Both sides of my family stems from Ireland and I was so excited to become enriched in a culture that my family both values and reflects. Since being in Cork, I have begun to notice sayings or traits that remind me both of my family and myself. The most recent one was introduced to me by my Politics of Northern Ireland professor. She was explaining the background on some Irish history and she said to the class, “One thing you must know about the Irish is that if you ask them to do something, make them seem as if they have a choice, they will bend over backwards to try to accommodate you. But if you make it sound like a demand or don’t ask, they will refuse to do anything you say.” This made me smile because I felt like that 100% applied to both me, and a number of family members. Now whether that really is some Irish blood that is being passed down, or just a coincidence, little things like that make me feel as though I have a true ancestry here. The connection of going back to my roots is something I hoped to experience and hope that I will continue to do so. Plus, there is always the bright side of seeing my last name in true Irish form around the city. And yes, two different Irish people have told me that I am pronouncing my last name wrong.


A sign for a meat counter in the English Market in Cork


Since I have last written I have had the wonderful experience of traveling to Blarney. Where, of course, I saw the Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone. For those who don’t know, it is believed that if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will receive the gift of gab. Now, I don’t think I necessarily need the gift of gab, but it could never hurt. However, one thing I didn’t know about kissing the Blarney Stone is that it is easier said than done. To reach the Blarney Stone, you have to climb to the top of the Blarney Castle (don’t worry there are stairs, but they are very narrow and winding), once you reach the top there is someone there who will help you actually reach the stone. In order to kiss it, you have to lay on your back, scoot back out into a gap between the castle wall and where you are laying, and lean back and kiss it. Now this is made easier by the building of rails to hold onto and the guy who helps you back up, but it is definitely a bit more terrifying than I anticipated. But it was worth it, and both the Blarney Castle and the gardens were beautiful.


Blarney Castle
The view from the top of the castle
Kissing the Blarney Stone


Classes here at UCC have been fantastic. My favorite one right now is my Irish Politics class, both because the subject is extremely interesting and my teacher is fantastic. It is crazy to really look in depth about why there is a Republic of Ireland and a Northern Ireland, and to hear about the process, time, fighting, and legislation it took for Ireland to become its own nation. It really puts into perspective how much “easier” it was for the United States to become its own country when compared to the conflict that lasted so many years in Ireland and the turmoil and unrest that is still prevalent to this day. I look forward to learning more and more about the current political system here since most of my classes so far have dealt with the history and background of the country. This class complements well with my Politics of Northern Ireland course so by the end of the term, I should be able to explain to anyone who asks why there is both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and why it is not as simple as some preconceived notions may have you think.

Lastly, one thing you can count on if you come to Ireland for longer than a week, you will most likely develop a cold. It seems as though all of my friends and roommates are contracting a runny nose or cough that will hopefully go away at some point. The amount of moisture that is constantly in the air, and the fact that it rains on a daily basis, is the perfect combination. However, nothing can bring us down, and we have another group trip planned for Cobh this weekend and a pub crawl tonight.

Stay tuned for more!

Cultural notes:

~You WILL hear Fresh Prince of Bel-Air played every single time you go out. Whether it is a club or a pub, you will hear (and sing along to) this tune.

~ The greatest shopping store you will discover is called Penneys, which is a super cheap clothing and home goods store that will save you a bunch of money. A few of us went on a quick Penneys run the other day and the store was swarming with middle schoolers who had just gotten out of school. Apparently Penneys must be THE PLACE to hang after school is released because there was a large number of kids just running around and hanging out.


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