Friday, May 3, 2013

My Favorite Irish Writers


When it comes to the writers, I can’t rank them. They are all equally good and I love them all.

These are in no particular order:











Jonathan Swift- Gulliver’s Travels was the first work by Jonathan Swift I read


 
 
 
Oscar Wilde- I read him the first time in junior high, The Importance of Being Ernest


George Bernard Shaw- I read Pygmalion for a high school lit. class


James Joyce- Ulysses was assigned in a different lit. class


C. S. Lewis- I first read him in elementary school with The Chronicles of Narnia

The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone is located in the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, which is around 8 kilometers from Cork, Ireland. According to the legend, anyone who kisses the stone will be given the gift of gab. Over the years, millions of people have kissed the Blarney Stone. In order to kiss the stone, the person must climb the battlements, and lean backwards over the edge. I don't know if I'd be able to do this. I don't mind heights as long as I know I won't fall. Dangling upside down over a high drop does not make me feel safe. I can't imagine what it would have been like before they installed the safeguards. I wouldn't have trusted another person to hang on to my ankles as they hung me over the edge.  I still want to see the Blarney Stone, but now I'm not sure I have the guts to try to kiss it.
Blarney Castle, the battlements where the stone is located

If only this is what the Blarney Stone actually was,
then it would be much easier for me to kiss it

Kissing the Blarney Stone

My Favorite Irish Musicians

Warning, the views in this post are totally subjective, etc.

 
#4 Enya- Enya has the voice of an angel. The first song of hers I heard was “May It Be.” Since then I’ve discovered more of her music and I enjoy it all.

 
 
#3 U2- One of the most successful Irish bands of all time, I can’t remember the first time I heard one of U2’s songs, it was so long ago. Like Enya, I enjoy all of their music.
 
 
#2 Van Morrison-Van Morrison get second place just for his song, “Brown Eyed Girl.” This was my song growing up because I was the only one of my siblings with brown eyes.
 
 
#1 Celtic Thunder- Celtic Thunder is amazing! I have almost all of their albums and have been to several of their concerts. All the guys have amazing voices and they blend together beautifully.

Newgrange


Newgrange is a prehistoric monument built over 5,000 years ago as a tomb and temple comparable to modern day cathedrals. It was built in County Meath during the Neolithic period, which means it is older than the pyramids or Stonehenge. Newgrange is a large, circular shaped mound with an inner passageway that leads to a chamber inside. The retaining wall around it is surrounded by large stones decorated with artwork.
 
Some of the artwork




Newgrange from a distance
 
Newgrange is probably best known for the winter solstice, when the passageway and chamber are lightened by the rising sun. From December 19th to 23rd, at dawn, a beam of light pierces the small window above the entrance and as the sun, the beam grows to illuminate the whole chamber. Newgrange is an extraordinarily accurate time-telling device that was most likely used to mark the beginning of the new year.
 

 
The Winter Solstice sun rise

My Favorite Irish Actresses


Again, this post is totally subjective. You don’t have to agree with my choices.

 
#4 Saoirse Ronan- I first saw her as young Briony in Atonement and then again in The Lovely Bones as Susie. Recently she starred in the movie adaption of The Host.


#3 Katie McGrath-She was in one episode of The Tudors and for the last few years she played Morgana on the wildly popular show Merlin.
 
#2 Sarah Bolger- Sarah Bolger got to work with Jonathon Rhys Meyers on The Tudors as Mary Tudor. Recently, she has played Princess Aurora on the hit show Once Upon a Time.

 #1 Evanna Lynch- Evanna Lynch comes first in my line up for the simple reason that she was Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies and no one is better than Luna.
 

My Favorite Irish Actors


Warning! This post is completely subjective! These are my favorite Irish actors. I don’t expect them to be everyone else’s I am sure my tastes are different from others. As you can tell, my favorites tend to have been in at least one sci-fi/fantasy movie or TV show.
 
#5 James Nesbitt- I first saw James Nesbitt in the BBC show Jekyll and I only grew to like him more as Bofur in The Hobbit movie.


  #4 Jack Gleeson-Jack Gleeson plays the sadistic King Joffrey on HBO’s Game of Thrones and he is so good he makes it easy to hate him.


#3 Liam Neeson-Liam Neeson was Qui-Gon Jinn when I saw him for the first time in Star Wars. Since then, he has appeared in Clash of the Titans and Taken and my love for him continues to grow.


#2 Aidan Turner- Aidan Turner has played two characters that I love; Kili in The Hobbit and Mitchell in the UK version of the Being Human TV series. When I learned that he was going to be in the upcoming Mortal Instruments movie, he cemented his place as number two in my heart.


#1 Jonathan Rhys Meyers- I first fell in love with him as Joe in Bend It Like Beckham and my love has only grown through the years as I’ve seen him in August Rush and The Tudors and his appearance in the upcoming Mortal Instruments movie has sealed the deal. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the best!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Phoenix Park


Phoenix Park was established in 1669 A.D. and at 1752 acres it is one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces in any European capital city. The President of Ireland’s residence, Áras an Uachtaráin, is found in the park along with the residence of the U.S. Ambassador. There are several things to see and do in the Park, including the Victorian People’s Flower Garden- a display of Victorian horticulture, the Papal Cross- built when Pope John Paul II performed an open-air mass in 1979, and Dublin Zoo- birthplace of Cairbre, the lion mascot of MGM film studio and current home of over 650 animals from all around the world. The park is also home to a wild herd of Fallow deer.

The Fallow deer with the Papal Cross in the distance


Caribre as the MGM mascot


video
Some video of the President's home.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

My first thought when I saw St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin was whoa. The sheer size of the cathedral was impressive and the ornateness of the d├ęcor was stunning.

 
Even more impressive was the history behind the cathedral. It was at this site that St. Patrick is believed to have baptized Christians around the year 450 AD, the first account of there being a building here dates to 890 AD, and the current cathedral was built between the years 1220-1260 AD. This site has been occupied for over 1000 years! It’s mind-blowing to me that this kind of architecture was being built before the Americas were even discovered.  Where I’m from, it’s difficult to find a building that dates back to the 1700s.
 
 
After wandering around inside the cathedral, admiring everything, my friend and I headed out to the park next door to the cathedral. In it we saw a stone stating that the well St. Patrick used for baptism was located nearby. We spent the next few minutes looking for it, but were called back to the tour bus before we could find it.  
 
 
 
 

My Time in Dublin


As a college student, Spring Break is a highly anticipated event every year; a week of no classes, a week to catch up on sleep, a week to relax and unwind. This year during my Spring Break I traveled to the UK with a school group. We spent time in Scotland, England, and Ireland, and while I could go on and on about all three countries, this blog deals with Ireland, so I will focus my attention on our two days in Dublin.

We arrived in Dublin on Sunday, March 17th which, if you remember, was St. Patrick’s Day. The city was packed with people all wearing green and everyone was celebrating. The following clip is some video I got of the crazy atmosphere. (I apologize for the poor quality; I am an amateur when it comes to videography. Also, the clip is so short because my camera died, again, apologies.)
video

 

Our first day in Dublin was spent roaming the streets and taking in the sights. As someone who had never been out of the United States, I was awed and slightly overwhelmed by all the different sights. On our second, and last, day in the country, we enjoyed a guided bus tour of the city, with stops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Phoenix Park. I will talk more about them in another blog.
 
My time in Ireland was too short. Next time I go, and there will be a next time, I plan on seeing more of the amazing country.
 
May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

~Lea