Friday, June 10, 2011

Ireland!

It's already the second week of my study abroad trip to Ireland and this is the first chance I've had to take a breath and try to sum up my experiences so far. First off I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Rebecca, I'm from Orange County, New York, I'm a junior-almost-senior English major. I chose to study abroad in Ireland not only because of my heritage but also because it's a great literary country. Many great authors came from this tiny country, like Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. The literary tradition is very evident in Irish culture - in Galway, one of the restaurants we tried had an illustrated Yeats quote on the stairwell.






My first week in Ireland was spent in Galway, a port city on the Atlantic coast that quickly became one of my favorite places. Apart from exploring the city, we also had the opportunity to take bus tours into the countryside. On these trips I've really been struck by the amount of history in this country. In the cities and towns you practically can't turn a corner without spotting a Gothic church or Norman castle. In the countryside many of the cottages are older than the famine time. The Irish are very superstitious, and it is forbidden to destroy any of the stone formations that are found pretty much everywhere in Connaght, western Ireland.






My favorite part of Irish culture so far is the fairy tree. The fairy tree is a hawthorne tree that grows in the direction that the wind blows. The Irish believe that the hawthorne tree represents the door to the underground world where the fairy people live. Their tradition is to visit a fairy tree and tie a piece of fabric on the tree and leave it there. This is their way of asking for help from the fairies - the piece of fabric left behind represents a problem that they would also like to be left behind. It is extremely bad luck to hurt a fairy tree. When a new highway was built there was a fairy tree standing right in the path of the road. Rather than uproot the tree, they simply rerouted the highway.






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