Great Irish Tour. No Blarney.

June 27, 2012
Harriet Kiser and Joan Christian

Harriet Kiser and Joan Christian

In May, GHC math faculty members Joan Christian and Harriet Kiser took a group of GHC students on a grand tour of Ireland.  What, you say?  Taking math in Ireland as part of Study Abroad?  Well no, not exactly.  Director of Libraries Elijah Scott was slated to go, too, and teach an English course while there, but a last-minute complication kept him at home.

Still, Christian said she was astounded at the learning that took place.  Students were eager to find books to bring back about the country and culture.  One student wants to return and complete her bachelor’s degree at Trinity College in Dublin.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

The group also visited Blarney Castle in Cork where the famous Blarney Stone waits to be kissed.  They went to a variety of churches and cathedrals, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  They listened to Irish celebrities recite Yeats in a museum near Trinity College, and saw the Book of Kells, a calligraphic manuscript the Irish monks created more than 1,000 years ago.

They even stepped inside the halls of Kilmainham Jail where some of Ireland’s most famous revolutionaries were executed in the long war for independence.  The road to Kildare showed them the green, lush Irish countryside the country is known for.

At the Ring of Kerry

At the Ring of Kerry

All the students noticed the cultural differences between Ireland and the United States, while at the same time seeing the Irish roots that exist in the American Southeast.  For example, in the U.S., putting one’s elbows on the table is considered rude.  However, in Ireland, all people eat with both arms on the table.

Yet students heard the similarities of Irish music and Southern Blue Grass.  It was an eye-opening experience for most of them, this connection with another part of the world so far away.  And that’s at the heart of the reason for the Study-Abroad program.

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