HOS Symposium Spring Break 2016 Trip Blog

Welcome to the HOS Symposium trip blog! As part of the yearlong program on Immigration, Emigration, and Migration: Culture, Citizenship, and Conflict, students and faculty will embark on a 10-day journey to learn about cultural landmarks around Ireland.

Please see more photos from the trip on LFA's SmugMug site.

March 14 - Depart from U.S.
March 15 - Walking tour of Galway, Ireland
March 16 - Excursion to Aran Islands and tour the prehistoric fort Dun Aonghasa and the ruins of Teampall Chiarain
March 17 - Travel to Tipperary and tour Bunratty Castle and the Rock of Cashel
March 18 - Travel to Dublin and tour Cahir Castle, Glendalough Ruins, and Southeast Dublin
March 19 - City tour of Dublin and see the Book of Kells. Evening theater performance at Historic Abbey Theatre
March 20 - Travel to Londonderry and tours of the Hill of Tara and Neolithic monuments of Newgrange
March 21 - Walking tour of Londonderry and see St. Columbs Cathedral and Tower Museum. Explore the Antrim Coast (Murlough Bay, Ballintoy Harbour, Dark Hedges). See Giant's Causeway
March 22 - Travel to Belfast, visit Inch Abbey, tour Belfast, and visit Titanic Museum
March 23 - Return to U.S.

Derry and The Snug - Day 7

Today we started the day with a walking tour of Derry -- also known as Londonderry -- one of the major sites of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. This city suffered major Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombings and British Army violence during the 1970s and 80s. We toured the Bogside neighborhood where both sides clashed over civil rights protests and religious differences.


(Civil Rights signs in Derry - Photos by Sonia Franklin '19)

Then we spent time in the Tower Museum where artifacts from the Trinidad de Valencia, a sunken ship from The Spanish Armada, are on display. We also learned about the 61 U-Boats that surrendered in the port of Derry after WWII. They were eventually scuttled offshore.

Finally, we went to the Giants Causeway, a site of the north coast of Ulster that looks like paving stones used for a giant's sidewalk. There the bus broke down just outside a little restaurant called "The Snug." We stayed warm and ate inside "The Snug" until the bus could be repaired to take us back to Derry.


(Allison Torres '17 and Jinny Hong '16 at Giant's Causeway - Photo by Bill Murphy)


(Giant's Causeway - Photo by Lilah Roth '19)

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Monday March 21, 2016
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Newgrange - Day 6

We started the day north of Dublin at Newgrange, a 5,000-year old megalithic tomb that was built at the same time as the Egyptian pyramids. The students were able to walk up into the central burial chamber, which is filled with sunlight twice a year during the equinox. There were amazing cave carvings and exploring the tunnel to reach the tomb proved to be a challenge for many reasons.


(Posing in front of Newgrange - Photo by Bill Murphy)

Then we visited the site of the Battle of the Boyne, the beginning of the Protestant vs. Catholic troubles in Ireland.

Now we are in Derry and we will tour the city tomorrow. We will also be viewing a shipwreck from the Spanish Armada.

In the second picture, everyone stopped to look at a field full of lambs playing together.


(Photo by Bill Murphy)


(Video of lambs by Lilah Roth '19)

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Sunday March 20, 2016
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Book of Kells - Day 5

Here we are in Glendalough, the monastery of the famous St. Kevin in the Wicklow Mountains outside of Dublin. It was a quiet place where monks thrived for hundreds of years. It has the best-preserved round tower in Ireland.


(Group Photo in Glendalough - Photo by Jen Madeley P'11, '14)


(Dieter Villegas '18, Sonia Franklin '19, and Lilah Roth '19 - Photo by Jen Madeley P'11, '14)

Then we had a walking tour through central Dublin. We stopped at Trinity College to see the famous Book of Kells and the Harp of Brian Boru, the national symbol of Ireland.

Dinner was at the Temple Bar neighborhood for dinner followed by a viewing of the Sean O'Casey play "Juno and the Paycock."

Everyone is tucked in their beds because we have an early departure time tomorrow when we leave for Northern Ireland

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Saturday March 19, 2016
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Irish-American Politics - Day 4

We had a great day today, starting with a visit to Cahir Castle. The tour guide walked us through all of the defenses of the castle, including a sally port.


(Exploring Cahir Castle - Photo by Dieter Villegas '18)

Afterwards, we traveled to the University College Dublin for a lecture at the Clinton Institute for Irish American Studies. We had a nice lunch, where we were joined by Loring, Jane, and Andrew Strudwick, who are vacationing in Ireland. The lecturer spoke about Irish-American political relations. One fascinating topic that most of us had never thought about was the amount of power that wealthy Irish Americans have in Irish politics, especially those who are descendants of Irish immigrants.


(University College Dublin - Dieter Villegas '18)

We are staying in a hotel at the airport because there are no rooms in the city -- yesterday was the All-Ireland Hurling Championship and this weekend is the Six Nations Rugby match between Scotland and Ireland. It is also St. Patrick's Day weekend. Downtown Dublin was crazy when we went stopped by a local restaurant for a dinner of shepherd's pie and bread pudding.


(Sculptures of hares in Dublin - Photo by Dieter Villegas '18)

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Saturday March 19, 2016
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Tipperary - Day 3

Today on St. Patrick's Day, we dodged parades in small towns across west Ireland to accomplish a day of activities.

We started in a fishing village near Ennistown so the students could see both traditional and modern forms of fishing in the Atlantic.

Then we crossed the Burren, a type of lunar landscape that stretches for dozens of miles. It illustrated how poor the farming conditions are, and once the blight killed the potato crops, hundreds of thousands of poor Irish people were forced to flee to the US, Canada, and the U.K.


(Memorial for famine victims on Dublin's waterfront - Lilah Roth '19)

Afterwards, we spent several hours at Bunratty Castle Folk Park, a preserved castle and old Irish village with an agricultural center.


(Bunratty Castle - Dieter Villegas '18)

We finished the day at a monastery, The Rock of Cashel. The building was a church that was later transformed into a castle for the kings of the ancient kingdom of Munster.


(Rock of Cashel - Jen Madeley P'11, '14)


(Rock of Cashel - Lilah Roth '19)

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Friday March 18, 2016
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Aran Islands - Day 2

Today, the group ventured out on the Atlantic Ocean to visit the Aran Islands, three islands off the western coast of Ireland that are literally the tip of Europe. It was a one-hour ferry ride to Innish More, the largest of the three. We toured the island on a small bus and listened to people speaking Gaelic, the Irish language. The island is covered with small walls made of stones taken from the soil. People actually brought sand and seaweed up from the sea to get greenery growing a thousand years ago.


(Aran Islands - Photo by Bill Murphy)

The highlight of the tour was Dun Aonghosa (English translation), a Celtic ring fort built 2,500 years ago to protect residents from raiding tribes and seafarers. It sits atop the largest hill on the island and backs on a cliff that is 600 feet above the breaking waves of the ocean. The students will tell you it was a special place with a mystical or spiritual feeling.


(Left: Landscape photo of Dun Aonghosa - Photo by Lilah Roth '19)
(Right: Lilah Roth '19 explores the fort - Photo by Bill Murphy)

We also learned about the legend of the seals on the island's beaches. Like the story of the silkies in Scotland, these seals were said to be magical. They transformed into beautiful young women and came ashore to steal the hearts of young male islanders. There is also a story that the seals would come ashore to steal children to join their mystical ranks.

Finally, we toured the only village on the island where the bank is only open on Wednesdays. The post office is also the fire department and the island high school has about 60 students.

The Aran Islands are famous for fishermen knit sweaters, which are made by the local women. Each women has her own distinctive knitting pattern.

We finally returned to Galway late tonight where some people were getting an early start on St. Patrick's Day.

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Thursday March 17, 2016
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Hello from Galway, Ireland - Day 1

After an uneventful flight to Dublin, we started working our way West to Galway, one of Ireland's major ports on the west coast.

Along the way, we stopped at the Hill of Tara at dawn. Tara was the seat of the Irish High King (Ard Ri) dating back more than 1,000 years. It was a fort located in the middle of Ireland with a commanding view for miles of the surrounding countryside.


(Students at the Hill of Tara - Photo by Bill Murphy)

Atop the hill is the Stone of Destiny. Legend stated that if the proper High King had been chosen, the stone would shout. Despite showing great energy at dawn, neither Pierce nor Mr. Murphy could make the stone shout. The legend would be similar to Excalibur or the Scottish Stone of Destiny at Scone.


(Mr. Murphy trying to lift the Stone of Destiny - Photo by Bill Murphy)

We had a nice walking tour of the central square and harbor region of Galway. We will sail out of that harbor tomorrow morning for our trip to the Aran Islands. The weather is fantastic!


(Dieter Villegas '18 in Downtown Dublin - Photo by Dieter Villegas '18)

Posted by Ms. Grace Kim on Tuesday March 15, 2016
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