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Cross-Cultural Program: Ireland and Northern Ireland 2001
Group Journal Sept 4 - 10

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  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)

Irish Landscape
Irish Landscape

Tuesday & Wednesday, September 4 & 5, 2001

Wednesday actually began Tuesday and just kept going. We said our good-byes, many of them tearful, as we left the EMU
Irish Landscape
More of the Irish Countryside
campus around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The drive to Dulles began with very high spirits, despite the tears, but we soon relaxed enough for many to sleep through the whole drive. Check-in went smoothly, and we boarded our plane on time. Forty-five minutes later we finally took off. The flight passed pleasantly enough and we landed at London's Heathrow Airport around 7:15 a.m. Remember those forty-five minutes? They would have been helpful as we jogged through the airport, customs ("Oh, the flight attendant said we didn't NEED those forms... everybody out of line and grab a pen...!") and made our next flight with a leisurely five minutes to spare before they closed the door.

We arrived in Belfast around 10:00 a.m. on a rainy cool Wednesday morning... SO green! We were met at the airport by Dr. Mervyn Love from the University of Ulster, who has arranged much of our semester here. (You'll hear his name throughout these journals.) The drive to Derry took about 90 minutes, during which most of us slept again, and here we were in Derry! We checked into the International Youth Hostel, then some explored the town while others slept. Our day concluded with a meal together at Thran Maggie's, a restaurant in the nearby Craft Village, and then to bed.



Thursday, September 6, 2001

Magee College
Magee College
We began our (somewhat fuzzy) day meeting for class at Magee College, where we'll have classroom space during our stay in
People at Magee
Socializing at Magee
Derry. Mervyn spoke about some of the things we could expect to see, hear and do while in Derry. He also underscored the safety and security measures that Anne and Gloria had spoken about during orientation.

After class and lunch in the college cafeteria (Love those chips! That's fries to you US folks...) we took a walking tour of Derry. The city grew up around a monastery founded in 546 by St. Columba. He called the place Doire (oak grove) which was later anglicized as Derry. This tour was fascinating, as Derry has some of the best-preserved city walls in Europe; they stand 26 feet tall and are up to 30 feet thick in some places. Built in 1618 to defend the city from Gaelic chieftains, the walls have never been breached. They've been restored so that it's possible to walk the entire way around the old city, about a mile. There are some fantastic views of the city from the walls.

Just beyond the walls lies the Bogside, the Catholic area of the city. One of the most famous murals in Northern Ireland announces that "You are now entering free Derry."
Bogside Mural
Mural in a Catholic neighborhood
There are many gripping murals in this neighborhood which depict the struggle for a united Ireland.
Free Derry Mural
"Free Derry" Mural

Our day ended with some much-desired free time for everyone to do some exploring of his or her own.






Friday, September 7, 2001

A bus tour of Derry and the surrounding countryside was the first thing for today. As we were still jetlagged, it was a little difficult to muster enthusiasm at first, but we soon got interested in the history and scenery. Our trip took us through the city up
Us at Grianan
Group at Grianán of Aileach
into the Waterside, the Protestant area where some students will be staying with host families. From the hill we were able to see the layout of the city below. We then headed out to Culmore on the River Foyle, which flows through Derry. This was the site where a boom was built across the river in 1689 to prevent invasion. It was another cool, misty day, and the river even had a few whitecaps!
Grianan of Aileach
Grianán of Aileach

Back on the bus to head out over the border into the Irish Republic to visit a very special site. Donegal's most impressive monument is Grianán of Aileach, a circular stone structure measuring 77 feet in diameter. Probably built as a pagan temple around 400 B.C., it is thought to have been a site of worship for hundreds of years before. Later Christians claimed the site and it became a royal residence until it was damaged in the 12th century. The view is amazing, as you can see from the photos, and the wind was intense...we worried some of our more slender women would be blown off the walls!
Irish Dancing
Irish Dancing
It was agreed by many that "this was the best thing we've done so far!"

Back to the city to begin our cultural lessons at the Verbal Arts Centre. We started with Irish language... "Dia duit!" ("Hello"... sounds like gee-uh didge... go figure) and then progressed to Irish
Picture people
People taking pictures
dance. The low ceiling didn't prevent some of us from getting airborne on the crossover steps! After all this work, the free evening was greatly appreciated.




Saturday, September 8, 2001

This was a free day.
Door of Grianan of Aileach
Grianán of Aileach
It was spent exploring more of the city,
Derry Peace Statue

Peace statue in downtown Derry

getting Internet access at the local library or the Internet café, shopping, sleeping and doing assignments... remember those? Anne took 17 people out to Drumahoe, a suburb of Derry, to see a football (soccer) game. After initial difficulty finding the right bus, we got there in plenty of time and were even greeted by the directors of the home team, Institute. They were thrilled to see us and welcomed us over the loudspeaker before the game! The brisk winds (when Anne says to dress warmly...) inspired a few people to buy team scarves and most of us drank hot tea or coffee throughout the game. Unfortunately, although they stayed warmer by running around, the team didn't fare so well and lost to Armagh City 1-0. It was all lots of fun, though, at least for us! That evening many of us sampled the local music in various locations around the hostel.



Sunday, September 9, 2001

We divided into two groups for church this morning. Those who would have Protestant host families during our Derry visit went to St. Eustace Cathedral for Mass and the others with Catholic hosts attended service at St. Columb's Cathedral. The Mass lasted a brief thirty minutes. The Church of Ireland (Anglican) folks didn't zip through as quickly, however. As it was not only Holy Communion Sunday but Confirmation Sunday as well, their
St. Coloumb's Cathedral
St. Coloumb's Cathedral
service was a whopping two hours long. The bishop actually personally apologized to us for the length of the service... guess he thought we Americans couldn't take it! There were a few heads bowed in prolonged prayer during Communion...

After this, the afternoon was spent in various pursuits. Many were doing their reading assignments in preparation for Monday morning class...
Celtic Cross
A Celtic Cross
others slept, wrote journals, or called home. In the evening, the Celebration committee (with help from other interested people) planned, shopped for and cooked a delicious spaghetti meal with salad, bread and dessert... all for less than two pounds sterling per person! It was great to sit down together. After dinner a sizeable group had their first cinema experience... we liked those sofa seats with no arm down the middle!




Monday, September 10, 2001

This morning's class was a lecture by Peter Pyne, a local history professor. He began with Ireland's earliest known history and progressed up through the 1600's. We learned many interesting facts about early Ireland.
Group at the Bloody Sunday Memorial
Bloody Sunday Memorial
Did you know... The earliest settlement discovered in Ireland dates from 7000B.C... There are no snakes in Ireland because the land bridges to Britain were flooded before the snakes could get there from southern Europe after the last Ice Age (sorry, St. Patrick...)... Romans never invaded Ireland, so the Irish didn't get the benefit of having the Latin language, roads, or the Roman judicial system... Half the people of Finland have Irish genes due to Vikings invading Ireland and taking slaves home... The term "outside the Pale" comes from those who lived outside the English-controlled area around Dublin in the 12th and 13th centuries... We learned a lot today and can't wait for tomorrow's lecture! A few hardy souls checked out the gym at Magee College and joined up so they could play basketball while we're here.

The rest of the day was used to catch up on reading assignments, run errands, check e-mail and relax. A brisk game of Mafia (I have no idea...) and some biscuits (cookies) ended the evening.



I want more pictures...
More Pictures...

HomeJournalsLinksWebteamMapsOld Site
  Orientation Sept 4-10 MP Sept 11-17 MP Sept 18-24 MP ** Sept 25-Oct 7 MP **
  Oct 8-16 MP Oct 17-24 MP Oct 25-31 MP Nov 1-8 MP Nov 9-17 MP **
  Nov 18-Dec 4 MP (MP is the journal's "More Pictures" page, ** is a bonus page)