Tag Archives: Ireland

Galway and Good Friday – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Galway and Good Friday – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

It is no secret that Ireland is a very Catholic country. In fact, about 86% of the population is Catholic, so it should come as no surprise that they take the Easter Holiday very seriously. The Wednesday before Easter three friends and I traveled to the college town of Galway to spend our Easter Break. We figured that nothing would be open on Sunday because of Easter but we didn’t even consider what Good Friday would do to normal business hours of all the pubs that Galway is known for.

[The first stop on our pub crawl]

Wednesday had been a long travel day so I was tired and ended up having a relaxing night in the hostel. When Thursday morning came, I was ready to explore. Right when we began walking around Galway I noticed that it seemed different from when our entire study abroad group visited it back in February. It was still very busy but oddly quieter. It took me a long time to realize that the reason it was so quiet was because all of the university students had already headed home to begin their Easter breaks. The streets were packed with tourists from all over the world, not their usual student crowd.

At the end of the main street that goes through the shops of Galway, a food festival was being set up. I assume it was scheduled for that very same weekend to distract people from the fact that Good Friday meant no night life. After walking around all day, we headed back to our hostel to see if they had any planned events for the night. The reception desk had a sign encouraging people to join them on the free pub crawl that would take place at 9:30 PM. Since we had nothing else to do for the night, we all agreed that would be a fun time.

[The band at The Kings Head]

The pub crawl began in the lobby of our hostel. We were supposed to mix and mingle with the other guests setting out on this adventure with us. Two of my friends struck up a conversation with a Canadian from Vancouver but other than that, we mostly just talked to each other until it was finally time to set out to the first pub. By the time we left, it was already past ten o’clock. The first place we went to was called Garvey’s. They had a small band playing live music and apparently, an entire soccer team from Manchester happened to be there. After dancing along to the band for about forty-five minutes, we headed to a pub called the Kings Heads.

As we walked to the pub, I noticed the streets were oddly bare. It was only 11 O’clock but some of the pubs had already shut down for the night. When we got into the next pub, the leader of our group told us that in a half an hour the pub would stop selling alcohol. That seemed odd to us because we had never heard of a pub not serving any kind of drinks. Later we found out they do this because it is actually illegal to sell alcohol on Good Friday and Good Friday begins right when the clock strikes midnight. Our group made the mistake of leaving the Kings Heads to go to another popular pub down the street called The Quay’s. Even though there was still half an hour before Thursday became Friday, all the pubs were no longer letting people in.

[One of the most popular pubs in Galway all locked up on Good Friday]

Defeated, we decided to head back to the hostel. We were walking down the street when an odd group of clearly intoxicated boys formed in the middle of the street. They lifted one of the boys up and he led the group in a traditional Irish drinking song. The rest of the group joined in when they knew the words but otherwise it was mostly just the boy crowd surfing singing. It was quite the sight to see.

The next morning when we walked through the town all the pubs were closed and pad locked behind their gates. The only pubs that were open only served food until a certain time in the evening and then they too had to close their gate. It was odd walking through a city that is known for all of its pubs and having all of those pubs closed down. It was clear that many of the tourist were disappointed by the closing of the pubs. They, like us, probably hadn’t even thought about the effect that Good Friday would have on their trip to Galway.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Northern Ireland – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Northern Ireland – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

When someone says the word Ireland what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it the numerous fields of luscious green grass? Maybe the first thing that comes to mind is the countless number of sheep that could be found on the island that is Ireland. Or it could simply be a small island country close to the United Kingdom. What usually doesn’t come to mind when thinking about Ireland is its long and strenuous past. Ireland is a land that dealt with oppression for hundreds of years, from the Vikings to the norms and then eventually the British. Many people don’t even realize that the Island that holds Ireland is split between two countries, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

[One of the Cannons on top of the wall around the old city of Derry]

The Republic of Ireland is its own country but it fought long and hard to get to that point. Northern Ireland is still under British rule but for many that was by choice. I’m not here to give a history lesson so I won’t go too far back into the long and violent path between the Republic and Northern Ireland, but I do have to tell you that the past between these two countries has led to a very tense present. The Republic of Ireland wanted to be one United Ireland and many people living in the North didn’t, which is why they chose to stay within the United Kingdom.

This past weekend, fifteen other St. Scholastica students traveled from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland to stay in a small town. This town has two different names, to the unionist the town is known as Derry and to the loyalist it is known as Londonderry. Considering the fact that we were staying on the island of Ireland we assumed that the differences between the two countries couldn’t be that big, but we were very wrong. The small town of Derry and all of its inhabitants seemed to be waiting with baited breath for the next outbreak of violence to occur.

Being that we were still in Ireland, the people were still nice but not in the way that we are used to. We are used to being approached and engaged in conversation with random people throughout the Republic. That wasn’t how things worked in Northern Ireland. The locals only seemed to want to talk to you after you gave them a reason to and the conversation never seemed to be more than a few words long from either side. It is said that if we would have visited Derry about thirty years ago, we would have been constantly worried about our safety. Riots weren’t uncommon to that city.

[The famous statues depicting the beginning of the peace talks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland]

It also happens to be home to an event referred to as Bloody Sunday. January 30th, 1972 is the day that is referred to as bloody Sunday. The even refers to civil rights march that happened in Derry, it led to thirteen people being killed by the British Army. As we walked through the streets of the city there were countless murals of those who died during Bloody Sunday, or during the hunger strike. There were murals of others too, the most striking is of a little girl, still in her school uniform. She was only fourteen years old when she was shot in the back of the head by a British Soldier.

As we continued to walk with through the city, you could see the old wall that runs around the old part of the city. On top of the walls there are still cannons just waiting to be used again. Also from atop the walls you could see all the way out to the ocean. Our guide told us they could see threats arriving by water two hours before they would ever make it to the shore which seems almost ironic considering the fact that many times those that threatened the citizens of Derry were actually other Derry locals.
Would you be surprised to hear that the people living in Derry today are extremely proud of the current peace between Northern and Southern Ireland? Probably not. They even have a famous statue in the middle of one of the roundabouts, it depicts two men standing faces to face with hands out stretched towards each other but not yet touching. One of the men symbolizes Northern Ireland and the other symbolizes Southern Ireland. The statues stands in Derry because it is also the city where the peace talks between the North and South began. They also have a peace bridge for pedestrians to cross. Although they wear the word piece like a badge of honor, the wounds of the past are still fresh.

[One of the many murals found around the city of Derry]

The town has yet to heal from its war torn past. It was ripped apart because of the troubles and when thinking about it that way, you might see why the atmosphere is still bitter and untrusting. Everyone seems to walk around on eggshells waiting for the other shoe to drop. Derry is no longer a danger to people’s lives, but it is still very far off from being a tourist destination. From its history to the fact that everything seems to close down in a hurry after six o’clock, Derry is no vacation destination.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Irish Hospitality – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Irish Hospitality – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

At our welcome dinner that we had a few weeks into the semester, three of my friends met an older woman named Agnes. They struck up a friendship with her and she invited them over to her house for scones. One of the girls, Annie, took her up on that and continued to meet her a few times.

For our Travel Writing class, we were required to write a paper about a person from Ireland. Annie chose Agnes because she had gotten to know her so well. One day when Annie went over to interview her, she invited myself and two other friends to come with. We braved the rain and hail for the three-minute walk to Agnes’ bright yellow house. When there was no response at the knock, Annie opened the door and stuck her head in, asking, “Agnes?” Agnes then ushered us in and scolded us for walking in the rain just to see her.

[The street leading to Agnes’ house, taken later in better weather]

We quickly found out that Agnes has strong opinions about everything. She warned us away from the Irish boys, telling us not to bother. Her advice for any woman was, even if they were married, to save money separate from her significant other. She even told this to her daughter-in-law.

Agnes actually left Ireland for the United States after we left her house that day. She has ten children and many of them live in the states. The truly ironic part is that she will return to Ireland May 9th, the day we leave. Her eldest son drove up from near Galway, two hours south of our location, to take her to the airport. We tried to leave then, to let her get ready and visit with her son but she told us we were ridiculous. They made tea and served us her amazing scones. Then her youngest son, who lives in town, came by with his eldest son to borrow baking soda. We tried to leave then as well, because they would not see her for two months but her son’s wife had not come with and she wanted us to meet her.

We begged her for the scone recipe because they were the best thing I have had. They were light and delicious, with raisins that added a hint of sweetness. She talked her way through the recipe, having to think about the measurements because she normally just throws the ingredients in. We asked if we could put chocolate chips in them, instead of raisins, and I have never received such a horrified look in my life. After a little wheedling, she grudgingly admitted that she supposed we could put chocolate chips in.

[Agnes’ scones. She insisted we take the leftovers]

We tried to leave a third time, so she called her son and told him he had to bring his family over. It was interesting to meet her sons and their family. Agnes has an Irish accent. Her eldest son has a mixed accent that everyone he meets has trouble placing. Her youngest son and his two sons all have American accents. His wife has a softer Irish accent. Agnes moved to the states when she was “eighteen and a half, almost nineteen” (she corrected us each time we said she had been eighteen). She lived there for almost sixty years. Her children were all born there except for one daughter who was born in Scotland. Her youngest son stayed in the states until he was fifteen, moved to Ireland for three years, moved back to the states and then moved to Ireland again. Their two boys, 14 and 12, were born in America as well. However, their family moved back to Ireland when they were 8 and 6 because college is free in Ireland and the parents wanted to start planning for that.

The 14-year-old grandson decided that the presence of four guests would soften the blow of a bad grade. A little while after they had arrived, he leaned over and whispered to his mother, “Is this a bad time to let you know I got 42% on my Gaelic test?” Without missing a beat, she replied, “We’ll speak about this later.” Then she returned to our conversation. He grinned at us a tad sheepishly, which makes me think he wouldn’t get into too much trouble for it. That little aside, though, led his mother onto the topic of how silly she thought it was that the children were required to learn Gaelic. Since they moved back to Ireland when the boys were 8 and 6, they had not grown up with the language like the other Irish children had. She thought it was ridiculous that they were required to learn a language that would not help them anywhere in the world except for Ireland.

Ultimately, we spent three and a half hours at Agnes’ house. We had planned to just stop in and say goodbye to her and go do homework in one of the local pubs (they have great Wi-Fi, much better than our cottages). Instead, we just headed back home after that and made dinner. I didn’t end up getting any homework done that day, but I think it was incredibly worth it.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[The College of St. Scholastica banner made by us students]

It should have been no surprise to me that on the day of St. Patrick’s Day I woke up to downpouring rain. I was in Ireland after all. Here it seemed to rain almost daily but I thought that maybe, just maybe the sun would actually smile down on Ireland for its holiest of feast days and the massive celebrations that come along with it. But the fact that it was raining seemed to make the day more authentic. Rain also meant things were not going to go the way they initially had been planned.

The morning was supposed to start with a parade. The entire town had already been decked out with orange, green and white flags in preparation for the parade. One that the majority of the town would be participating in. I thought the idea was somewhat odd considering the fact that if everyone was in the parade no one would be watching it. Unfortunately, due to the weather I never got the chance to learn how the logistics of their parade actually worked. Many of us students were saddened by this news especially those who spent long hours working on the banister that was to be held up.

Instead of walking down the streets in the parade, we were informed that our Professor Richard Revoir’s youngest daughter Ava would be performing an Irish dance in front of the entire town. Wanting to support her, the majority of us students made our way to the town hall where the performance was set to begin at 12:30. In true Irish fashion the actual performance didn’t start for at least an hour after the set time but that was okay because it gave us a chance to check out the baked goods that were on sale. Unbeknown to us, the even we had just entered was a fundraiser for some kind of horse show that was set to take place much later in the year.

[Ava Revoir dancing with the other Irish students]

I grabbed a delicious chocolate and caramel bar before sitting in one of the few seats left open. At first I was surprised at how few people were there because usually the entire town would show up to this type of thing but almost as soon as I thought those words, huge crowds of people came in and filled the remaining gaps in the room. Quickly we went from having good seats to not even being able to see the stage. My friends Arden and I decided to move to the front where rows of chairs were just beginning to be set up to accommodate the crowd.

Not long after we moved the dancers finally made their way out to the stage. I was amazed by how fast they could move their legs and how easily they kept their arms straight down to their sides. It was a delightful surprise to see that there were at least four male dancers in the group. The kids had set groups that they danced with, each new group was ushered on stage and right back off when finished. In the end production Ava finally took the stage. Her father had boasted that she had only taken two lessons before the performance and it was clear as she danced that she was a very quick learner. At the end of the performance all of us Scholastica students jumped up and cheered for her like proud big brothers and sisters.

After all the excitement of the fundraiser, we had worked up an appetite for lunch. We decided to head back to the cottages for a quick lunch and then head right back into town to the pubs. Each pub that we walked into was packed full with people from the town. Most of them we had never even seen before, which is rare in such a small town. Taking in all the people we decided that it would be best to not stay in one place for too long.

Since we had started with the one closest to our cottages we decided we would just slowly make our way through the three other pubs in town. In the first pub, I was surprised to notice that unlike in the states, they did not dye their beer green. Then again, we put a lot of things in our foods and beverages that they no longer do. To add to the lively atmosphere of the first pub, they had free sandwiches to snack on and we all enjoyed one before moving on to its next-door neighbor: Joe MacNemara’s.

[Decorations that had been brought into the horse show fundraiser from outside when the parade was officially canceled]

MacNemara’s was full to the brim with people our age, readying themselves for the DJ that was set to begin playing any minute. For most people, the time they spent in Louisburgh would really only be pregaming compared to the celebrations they would encounter in the nearby city of Westport. After an hour or so we grew bored with MacNemara’s and moved on to the DerryLahn. Instead of standing around at the bar like every other pub, we took this opportunity to grab dinner. Before heading to our final pub. When we peeked our head into the final pub we decided it was a bad idea considering every single person just stopped and stared at us. It was nearing ten o’clock at this point and many of us had very early trains to catch for spring break so we were okay heading back to the cottages.

St. Patty’s day had been a total success aside from the parade being canceled. It had been very exciting to see a much livelier side of the little town of Louisburgh. Especially considering the fact that seeing even one person our own age in the town never seemed to happen. It felt like it was a sneak peek into what we would see during the music festival at the end of April, when our itty-bitty town swelled to twice its population.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Ireland – Near Traffic Catastrophe – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Near Traffic Catastrophe – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

I might be exaggerating a tiny bit, but I have had more run ins with danger in the month I have been in Ireland than I have in many years. It really comes down to the way the Irish drive on the opposite side of the road. One thing to note about the streets in Ireland is that they have many roundabouts. They seem to be the preferred method over stop signs at intersections.

In Louisburgh, there are quiet streets of houses that have sidewalks and are perfectly normal and similar to home. I do fine on those. Even Main Street is not horrible, mostly because their traffic is not even something I would consider traffic back home. It is to be expected in such a small town.

[An example of the streets in Louisburgh]

The real trouble started when we spent more time in larger towns. My friends and I took a taxi into Castlebar, the largest town in County Mayo. Everything was going great, we had spent our time wandering around, jumping from shop to shop and stopping for food whenever we got hungry. We came to a roundabout to find more places to scope out and I had somehow ended up at the front of our little group. This street had a median, so we safely crossed to the median. Then, I looked to our right because I still forget about the opposite side of the road driving. Thinking it was clear, I got one foot on the street when my friend yanked me by the arm back onto the median. I was bewildered and finally looked to my left and saw the car that had been trying to enter the roundabout, staring at me. Luckily, the driver seemed very pleasant and allowed us to cross the street after that. I was mortified that I had nearly done something that was so simple to avoid. If I had turned my head the tiniest bit to the left, I would have seen the car coming. It just never occurred to me. In my head, there had been no consideration of the fact that their traffic enters from the left.

It shook me up, I will admit. Every time that I think I am getting used to the differences between the US and Ireland, I do something incredibly silly like attempt to walk into traffic. I insisted on walking at the back of the group after that, not trusting myself to remember to look the correct way.

It certainly taught me a lesson, that is for sure. When we were in Dublin, I made sure to look both ways twice before even thinking of crossing the street. I know I need to keep vigilant about this because it would be just my luck to make it through the entire trip without being kidnapped or murdered (too many people brought up the movie Taken when I announced I was studying abroad) to be hit by a car. It does not help that I have noticed the Irish tend to drive very fast. Combined with their winding roads, it seems very dangerous to me. I also just don’t like driving in general though, so perhaps I am not the best judge of that.

The speed with which the Irish drive is extremely apparent when we walk to the beach that’s about a fifteen-minute walk away. The way to get to the beach does not have any sidewalks, so we keep an ear out for cars coming. When we hear one, we move from a mass of people at the side of the road to a single file row, reminiscent of ducklings. The cars speed by, whipping our clothes around us and it always feels close enough to make me catch my breath. We tend to trip over each other if we stay in a row like that, so as soon as the car passes, we spread out again, only to repeat it as soon as the next car passes us by.

[The road to the beach. Along both sides run low trenches full of water, so tripping isn’t advisable]

I have a feeling that I will get used to cars on the other side of the road around the end of May. Then I will return home and have to readjust all over again. Here’s to hoping I refrain from accidently stepping into traffic again.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Allison Brennhofer, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Ireland – Feels Like Home (But Not Quite ….) On Homesickness – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Feels Like Home (But Not Quite ….) On Homesickness – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[Fact: I’ve found it impossible to be homesick when surrounded by this much beauty]

We have been in Ireland just over a month. At this point, the trip has brought many experiences and events for us nearly every day. However, it is also that point where many of us have been getting homesick and, in my case at least, restless.

It was interesting to note that a good number out of our sixteen students started getting a little crabby and irritated with each other. I was one of them and did not understand why I was so easily annoyed until my friend Annie pointed out that it had been a month since we had gotten here. I think everyone has finally adjusted to life in Louisburgh, which is great but also comes with the ups and downs, including homesickness.

I have never really been homesick. My first two years of college I loved being in Duluth. Honestly, I just don’t like transitions. As soon as I get comfortable in a place, I adjust quickly. My first semester of this year was different for a few reasons. It was the first semester my sister was not also at CSS with me (she graduated last May). While my brother started at CSS this past fall, he is not as sympathetic to me when I’m feeling whiney and just want to complain about the world. My family is also experiencing some health issues with one family member, so it was much harder being away at school. In order to prepare for being in Ireland the second semester, I only returned home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and one weekend in between where I had a doctor appointment. Looking back, I think it’s hilarious I thought that was preparation for this semester.

[The Church Bar]

It is one thing to understand that you will be across the ocean from your home for three months. It’s quite another to actually be across the ocean from your home for three months. I will also be spending an additional month in Europe after the Ireland trip is finished, so I am looking at four months of being away from home completely.

I have found that the age old cliché of fighting homesickness by keeping busy to actually be true. The more things I do in a day, the less time I have to think about missing my family and my cat. I also am more tired at night, which means I fall asleep instead of lying in bed, thinking about every random thought that populates my brain when I should be sleeping. A few of my friends have also noted that if you stay cooped up inside all day, that is a surefire way to feel miserable for the whole day. No matter the weather here, most of us go for walks into town or to the beach just to explore for a short while.

One factor that, counter-intuitively, made me more homesick was that we traveled to Dublin this past weekend. I loved that city more than I can express. It felt like home to me, the atmosphere was very similar to Saint Paul. All of my friends here on the trip are from small towns, so they were itching to head back to Louisburgh while I bemoaned the fact that we ever had to leave. One might think that it would help, being in the city and keeping busy. I would have agreed with you before the trip. But once we were there and I felt so at home in the city atmosphere, I knew it wouldn’t last. We stayed there two nights which were fantastic. The restaurants and nightlife in Dublin were so fun and we had a great time. We actually stopped at a pub that was a restored 17th century church, which was rather an incredible experience.

[River Liffey, which runs through Dublin and separates the city into North Dublin and South Dublin]

Once we left, though, and were back on the bus, that was when I felt even more down. Within ten minutes of leaving the city center, there were fields with sheep. Now, I love sheep, I do. I have more pictures on my camera of sheep than any person really ought to and my profile picture on Facebook right now is a selfie with a sheep. My professor promised we’ll go visit lambs soon and I plan on holding him to that. But to leave the city I fell in love with and to see a field so shortly afterwards, I felt more homesick than before we had even gotten to Dublin. I wonder if I would be less homesick if I was based in a city like Dublin. But, like most things, I was feeling better a little while later. And when we arrived back in Louisburgh after two nights in a town called Kilkenny, I was ecstatic to be home after five full days of travel and sightseeing.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Allison Brennhofer, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Ireland – Culture Shock – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Culture Shock – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[The Harry Potter corner in the bookstore, put together by the man who worked on the films]

I admit, I perused Pinterest and countless websites before I left for Ireland in search of travel advice and general tips that would make my life easier. The thing that came up time and time again was the notion of culture shock. It seems simple enough to understand, the feeling a person gets when they travel away from home and is unused to their surroundings. I thought I was prepared for everything, including culture shock. I think it is important to note that I am studying here in Ireland with two professors from CSS and fifteen other students, so it helps to be with people from home.

However, then I arrived here and the only jarring thing vastly different from home was the accent. People joke about ‘Minnesota nice’ but honestly, the people here put us Minnesotans to shame. My friends, Arden, Victoria and I, checked out the local bookstore and ended up chatting with the employee (who used to work on films and did the lighting for the Harry Potter movies. I might have flailed internally for three minutes after learning that) and another customer for an hour and a half.

Others will say hello to you on the street. A common phrase here that threw me off at first is “You’re very welcome.” I was confused, what could these people possibly be saying that for, I hadn’t thanked them for anything yet. It took me a few times to realize they meant “You are very welcome here.”

The first time I truly felt culture shock was when we went grocery shopping at Tesco, a store here similar to a mixture of Target and a grocery store. I probably spent half of the time there simply wandering down the aisles, searching for anything that looked familiar to me. There are a few select brands that we also have in the states, but for the most part, they were new brands to me. It was very disconcerting to look for a certain product and realize I had been looking at it all along, it just had not been what I was used to looking for.

There are also a few things the Irish do that I consider extremely odd. One such oddity was that they do not keep the eggs in the refrigerator. They keep them on normal shelves, like one would see bread or canned goods. I have been in numerous grocery stores now and it still throws me off to see the eggs sitting on a shelf. It is recommended that the customer refrigerates them after purchase, according to the carton of eggs I bought.

[The way the Irish keep their eggs]

Another thing that is not odd, per se, but is different is that certain foods that Americans consider breakfast food, the Irish consider candy. I knew I should not have been surprised because as a culture, Americans tend to like sugar more than we should, but it still threw me off to walk into an old school candy shop and see boxes of Pop-tarts and cereal on the shelf. I also like to eat a certain type of fruit filled breakfast bar and they sell them in gas stations in single servings among the candy bars.

[A candy store in Dublin]

Another aspect of culture shock is getting used to the country’s currency. Luckily, the dollar is only slightly higher than the euro right now (about €1=$1.06), so the conversions are not too tricky. However, simply getting used to their bills and coins was an experience especially because they use €1 and €2 coins instead of bills. The first time I received change here, it was €3 and I received two coins to equal that amount. It was the same day we arrived, so I hadn’t had time to study their currency and I was rather confused to receive coins back for change instead of bills, as I would have gotten in the states.

A few weeks into the trip, I counted all of my change and it came to €30, which explained the extreme weight of my wallet. I think this is because I am not used to paying for things with coins, whereas it is normal here to do so. I have had to train myself to go to my coins to pay for smaller items instead of going right for my paper money.

Slowly, I am starting to recognize brands and am quicker with the currency. Hopefully these things won’t faze me anymore and I will become even more used to living in Ireland.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Ireland – Day Trip to London – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Day Trip to London – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[The outside of Harrod’s]

London is a city that is bustling with constant activity. A person from every walk of life imaginable can be found there. When most people think of London, they think of Big Ben, West Minster Abbey and the other big tourist attractions. Some people even call their underground transportation system to mind when thinking of London. I personally had been to London once before but on the first weekend in March, I decided it was time for me to go back.

The first time I went to London I saw all the usual tourist attractions but like every other tourist destination, to go inside costs money. Being that this time I am on a much stricter budget, I had to see London in what I like to call the broke college student way. Only seeing main attractions from the outside and finding any possible free thing to do. We also had to stay a little further out of the city to be able to afford our Airbnb.

[The tea we had in Harrod’s]

On Friday, our first full day in London, we started our day by going to a place called Camden Market. I had never actually heard of the place before so I was excited to see something new. The market was unlike anything I can remember seeing back home in the states. There were venders for everything you could possibly think of, from clothes to tapestries to hang on the walls. The atmosphere was that of a hipster mall, hidden from the mainstream. Even though the market had just opened, it was already crowded with people.

I walked around the market for two whole hours, mostly because it was such a maze that I couldn’t figure how to get out. I had worked up an appetite from all that walking and decided to try one of the many street food venders. I, being the picky eater that I am, struggled to find something that I would actually eat before coming across a mac n cheese stand. The price was a bit steep at five and a half pounds but the food was beyond worth it.

[The entrance to China Town in London]

After sitting down to eat for a while, my travel companions and I decided to continue on and see what other free things we could find. One of the other girls that I had traveled with had also been to London before so her and I decided to show the two newbies all of the regular tourist attractions before heading off to Harrod’s for tea.
Harrod’s is a very high end mall that takes up at least an entire block. The massive building holds five levels of luxury shopping. Brand names such as Gucci, Prada, and Fendi can all easily be found within the walls of Harrod’s. Like I said though, I am on a poor college student budget. The three of us window shopped through all five floors of Harrod’s before deciding to rest our legs for an hour or so in the Tea Room. We figured we couldn’t go to London and not drink any tea so we each ordered our own pot off an impressive tea menu.

We were all getting hungry from all the walking around so we asked the birthday girl of our group where she would like to eat. That is how we ended up in China town. Much like Camden market, I hadn’t even known that China town existed until I saw the red Chinese lanterns strung up above the streets that house the area. It looked like something straight out of a movie. It was exactly how I imagined china town would be. The entire block was filled with nothing but Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants. We picked one of the restaurants right off the street. We sat by a window and watched all the festivities unfold.

[The entrance to Camden Market]

After a long day of travel, we decided to head back to our Airbnb. The tubes were packed with people just heading out for the night as we passed them to make our way to our beds. I had only been back in London for one whole day but I had already managed to see two new things. Seeing an entire city is almost next to impossible, it never hurts to revisit a place you’ve already seen because I can almost guarantee you there will be something new to see every time you return. I thought I had seen it all, but this trip showed me just how wrong I was.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Ireland – Star Gazing – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Star Gazing – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

High up in the Chilean Atacama Desert, pioneering feats of human engineering collide with the majestic beauty of the natural world. This image shows ESO’s La Silla Observatory, where domes housing some of the most advanced astronomical instruments in the world sit beneath a sky shimmering with stars. All of these stars belong to our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way contains billions of stars, arranged in two strikingly different structures. The roughly spherical halo component, consisting mainly of older stars, appears in this image as the background of stars scattered across the sky. The second component is a thin disc made up of younger stars, gas and dust. We see this as a dense, bright, and visually stunning band running almost vertically across the sky. Pockets of dust block out the light from stars behind, giving the band a mottled appearance. The bright concentration in the band of stars, located toward the top centre of this image, is the central region of the Milky Way. Here, astronomers have measured stars moving very much faster than anywhere else in our galaxy. This is taken as evidence for a supermassive black hole, some four million times the mass of the Sun, at the very centre of our galaxy. The black hole cannot be observed directly, but its presence can be inferred from the effect its enormous gravity has on the motions of these nearby stars.

[This photograph was produced by European Southern Observatory (ESO). See: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Where_Heaven_and_Earth_Collide.jpg ]

I am the first to tell anyone that I am completely and utterly a city girl. I’ve always been much more comfortable strolling down the streets of downtown Saint Paul over hiking through the woods or gallivanting through farms and their respective animals. Therefore, I surprised myself completely when I decided to spend three months in a town of 800 people in the countryside of Ireland. It’s been interesting, thus far, and there are definite pros and cons to both locations. I’m not used to there being one main street of shops and restaurants, I am more used to being able to drive ten minutes in any direction of my house and have countless options of where to shop and eat.

Tonight, a group of eight of us were walking back to our cottages from town and noticed how bright the stars were. My roommate suggested walking the ten minutes to the beach to see them even better, at a future time. I, however, was enamored with the idea and begged her and my other roommate to go right that instant. We rounded up the other ladies from our group before they made it back inside their cottages and made our way to the beach. We walked in a huddle of bodies with our phones’ flashlights guiding our steps.

The tide was the highest I’d seen, leaving us maybe ten feet of rocky beach to stand on. I quickly claimed a large rock and laid down on it, feet propped up against a conveniently located rock at the bottom of mine. I lay there for the whole half an hour we stayed out there, eyes locked on the dark sky illuminated by the countless stars. It was similar to but also so much better than those trips my class used to take to the planetarium in elementary school.

Now, I’m sure that I have seen stars that bright and numerous before. My family took a road trip to Mount Rushmore years ago and we spent a week every summer up north in a cabin where I am positive the stars are bright. But looking at the stars tonight, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything that beautiful. My friends called over to me a couple times, to make sure I wasn’t sleeping or dead, because I lay there so silently, taking in the view.

My friends tried to point out constellations to me, such as Orion’s Belt and the Big Dipper (which I saw) and the Little Dipper (which I pretended I saw). I also saw my very first shooting star. I was in disbelief, I had to ask the others if they had seen it too. (They hadn’t, I quickly made a belated wish anyway.)

I think my fascination with stars and space started when I was ten. My uncle came over after work every night for probably a week and showed my siblings and I all six of Star Trek The Original Series and all four of the Next Generation movies. My mom and he had grown up on them and now it was our turn to do the same. I have been hooked on anything and everything related to space exploration since then. In Saint Paul, we’re lucky to see a few stars with all of the light pollution. Here in Ireland, I couldn’t even have begun to count them. Every time I moved my head (carefully, because I jerked it too hard the first time and quickly remembered I was resting on a rock), there were more and more stars to look at.

I know this does not relate specifically to Ireland. I am sure there are many places in Minnesota, let alone the whole United States, where I could see as many stars. Maybe it was that I’m older now, more appreciative of sights that I am not used to. Or maybe it took being somewhere so dramatically different from home for me to really see things that I have had access to before. All I can say is that half hour of being on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, where my fingers were a little numb and my skin probably matched the temperature of the rock I was on, was maybe the most peaceful, reflective half hour of my life to date. I also think this was the first time I’ve actually, seriously loved being in a small town setting. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Louisburgh. I think it is the cutest place I have ever lived and there is something endearing about recognizing everyone who lives there. But I’m used to the hustle and bustle of a city where you can go to high school with twice as many people than live in Louisburgh as a whole. I will be forever grateful to this town for letting me get as close to the stars as I probably ever will.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Allison Brennhofer, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Ireland – The Round Tower Experience – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – The Round Tower Experience – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

victoria-h-tower-2

[A view of the round tower from the ground]

In the midsized town of Kilkenny, Ireland there is a hidden gem that isn’t widely known about. The city of Kilkenny is home to around twenty thousand people. When you ask most people what the city is best known for you will almost always get one of two answers: they will either mention the Kilkenny Castle that has sat in the city the times when they were fighting off Vikings, or they will tell you about Smithwicks, the beer brewing company that has its home on Kilkennys main street. Neither of these things are the hidden gem of the city that I want to share with you.

Tucked into the west side of the city is a cathedral called St. Canices. It is no secret that Ireland seems to be the land of 10,000 churches but this church happens to be special. Much like many of the other cathedrals this church has a round tower standing of to the right of it. This round tower was used to watch who was coming up and down the river back in the day when Vikings often scoured the land. What made this round tower so special was the fact that it is one of two in the entire world that the public is actually allowed to climb up to the top.

victoria-h-tower-1

[The stairs I had to climb up to get to the very top]

When our group had first arrived at St. Canices Cathedral, we were told that the tower had already been booked out by a group for the day. Many of us students were disappointed especially after learning that it was only one of two still open. Luckily for us, the tour group that had booked out the tower never showed up. This meant that our entire group go to climb to the very top. When I first bought my ticket to climb up there, I didn’t have a single clue as to what I was signing myself up for.

When I thought about the inside of the tower I imagined what looked like a never ending spiral staircase going from the bottom of the tower to the top. To even get inside the first floor of the round tower, I had to climb up a cold metal ladder. Once I walked through the open door of the round tower, I realized it wasn’t at all what I expected. The inside was dimly lit and several ladders could be seen above me. Not wanting to hold the people up behind me, I quickly got on the ladder and began to climb.
The first few ladders were easy but the higher up we got, the steeper the ladders became. Around the fourth ladder, a voice could be heard coming out of the speakers on the wall. It would be logical to think that the voice coming from the speaker would be encouraging you to just keep climbing but instead it joked about the fact that the tower had already begun lean to one side “but don’t worry, it should stay standing long enough for you to make it to the top”. The higher up we climbed, the windier it became. The round tower has glassless windows so the air creates somewhat of a vortex within.

victoria-h-tower-3

[The view of the city from the top]

After the sixth ladder, I had made it to the final landing. The only thing that stood between me and the very top of the round tower was a set of stone stairs that were extremely uneven. I put one foot up on the first step of the stairs and then foolishly looked down. It was at that moment that I realized from that point on, if I fell, I would fall more than a single story and it would more than likely be the death of me. With a deep breath, I continued my way up the last few steps. Holding onto the nearby fence to steady myself as I emerged to the open air.

The view from the top was breath taking. I looked down to the ground below and couldn’t believe how far up I had climbed. The top of the round tower had an uneven floor, so I had to be careful not trip as I took in all the scenery in front of me. We had to wait for everyone to make it to the top before we could begin our descent back down. Once everyone made it up we snapped a quick group picture before heading back down to the ground. I was nervous about the descent. I thought it was going to be harder than getting up there was. Luckily, I made it down with easy.

Once I reached the ground floor, I looked up in awe. I couldn’t believe that I had climbed all those ladders in such a short amount of time. Afterwards the guide told us it is only a matter of time before that tower eventually falls. I was thankful she hadn’t mentioned that before we began climbing but at that moment realized how lucky I am to get to say that I have had the experience of climbing up a round tower.

victoria-h-tower-4

[The ladders that I had to climb up]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

33 Comments

Filed under Professor Hong-Ming Liang