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You’ll have to excuse the tardiness of this post – I have a number of posts I want to write on some of the traveling I’ve done in the past couple weeks and haven’t yet had the chance to actually write them. The rest will come soon, promise.

A couple weekends back, fellow Mitchell scholar Michael and I made the long trip from Galway to Belfast. The trip was organized around the opportunity to see the play The Beauty Queen of Leenane and to meet the show’s star, Geraldine Hughes. The Mitchell gang gathered from all corners of the country for the show, which was just about as devastating (maybe more so) as The New Electric Ballroom, which we’d seen a couple weeks prior. In addition to the play, the Mitchells explored Belfast and had a lovely fall weekend. One of the big highlights was our trip to St. George’s Market, a Victorian-style, indoor market with all the fixins: fresh produce, meat, cheese, fish, crafts, plants, and more. Additionally, a variety of curries, crepes, smoothies, and chocolate was sold throughout for eating on the spot and musicians played throughout the afternoon. We wandered around the market for hours, and all the non-Belfast kids got really jealous that the Belfast people get to experience it every weekend.

belfast spices

just one of many stands in St. George's Market

We spent hours wandering the city of Belfast, and it was interesting to note the subtle differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In the North, you rarely see the Irish language, and you definitely never hear it. Very different than Galway, which is in the heart of the Irish language region of the country (called the Gaeltacht region), where Irish is often seen and sometimes heard as well. Additionally, protestant churches are much more visible than in the Republic, as is a more evangelistic ethos. Belfast has a bigger-city feel than I was expecting, and while there were some of the quiet signs of a post-conflict area, it was hard to see much evidence of the Troubles.

One of the legacies of the conflict that is visible, however, is the use of murals throughout the city. Belfast is known for its murals, which signify support for various political groups active in the conflict. We took a walking tour around Belfast and caught a glimpse of some of the murals around town.

basque mural

one of a group of murals dedicated to solidarity with other "underdog" groups, including those in Basque country.

paramilitary mural

mural showing support for a paramilitary group.

The weekend in Belfast came to an end with a night of dancing. A perfect way to complete a weekend exploring a cool city with a group of my newest friends.

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Last weekend, I finally got to do something I’ve been looking forward to for almost a year: spend time with my fellow Mitchell scholars.

Adam, Sarang, Shane, Jon, and Michael

After months and months of preparation, emails, and waiting, we finally got to just hang out and get to know one another better. Well, that, and hear from a variety of speakers on topics relating to contemporary Irish life, experience a couple of Dublin tourist must-dos, and spend some time in the American Ambassador’s residence in lovely Phoenix Park. We were busy!

Let me start with the obvious highlight: the other scholars. Mostly, I’m just impressed with how complex, intelligent, and kind I found everyone in the group to be. I discovered that I’m not the only one with an interesting family background. And everyone seems to be so well-rounded and active! I’m excited for what the year will bring in terms of what I can learn from these 11 amazing people…

The weekend was scheduled to the brim. We started it all off with a visit to the American Ambassador’s residence in Phoenix Park for a reception. This building is widely known amongst the Irish – many say it is even nicer than the Irish president’s residence! Indeed, the building proved to be an architectural gem inside.

During the following two days, we met with Irish experts in the fields of journalism, theater, and economics. We visited Kilmainham Gaol and learned about the Irish struggle for independence from the British. We saw a devastating, occasionally funny play by Irish playwright Enda Walsh called The New Electric Ballroom. And we got to visit one of the most incredible museum exhibits I’ve ever seen – an exhibit on W.B. Yeats at the National Library of Ireland. If you’re interested, check out their website which basically recreates the museum online – really incredible use of technology!

By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I was happy but exhausted. If every weekend was this full, I’d be blessed indeed. And REALLY behind on my homework.

Mitchells learning about life in Kilmainham Gaol.

Mitchells learning about life in Kilmainham Gaol.

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Welcome to our blog! Follow along with us as we travel and experience life as a couple of 20-somethings - with all its ups and downs. We hope to post photos, short videos, stories about our daily life and not-so-daily adventures, and thoughts on what’s going on in the world.

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