This morning we met in class and Mike went over the format of the final exam. He also did a great exercise in “crowd-sourcing” to help students determine which concepts are most likely to be important to study. Below, he’s telling them how high the bar will be set for this test (yikes).
Our final group field trip was to see Trinity College Dublin and the Book of Kells. On the way there, Mark and Kevin had a special moment as they contemplated the end of our journey.
Inside these lovely wooden doors is a famous seat of learning whose alumni include Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker (which gets Mike very excited; ask him why), Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett, among others. Notice anything about that list, gender-wise? Ironically, the school was established in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Here’s a quiz: given what you’ve learned about Irish history through reading this blog, guess which faith-based group was excluded from applying? If you answered “Protestants,” you probably shouldn’t try to get in, either.
Two hundred years later, the doors opened for Catholics, with one catch: they weren’t eligible for scholarships. This was rather like offering blind people free passes to silent movies, but it was a small step in the right direction. And women were admitted starting in 1904. The Catholics opened their own university in 1854, University College Dublin, and to this day, according to Mike, each faith tends to favor its own campus. I need only mention one of their graduates: James Joyce.
That’s the playwright Oliver Goldsmith behind our group, studying for tomorrow’s exam.
By the way, during the Easter Rising, when the rebels were dashing back and forth between the GPO, City Hall, and the Four Courts, Protestant TCD students leaned out of dorm windows with their hunting rifles and took potshots at them.
We then went into the Library to see the Book of Kells. Even if you’re not a total book nerd like me, it’s a beautiful thing to see. Some of the “initial” letters look like elaborate, and decidedly old-school, graffiti. Upstairs (on the “first floor” as one calls it, confusingly, here) in the Long Room was a wonderful display of ancient books, and one comic book, relating to Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf–2014 is its millennium anniversary. Ask your student why he’s such an important figure in Irish history–on tomorrow’s exam, Mike is very likely to.
Also displayed is the iconic “Brian Boru harp,” which appears on many things Irish including coins, stamps, tattoos, and, most notably all things Guinness. In fact, however, this harp dates to the 1500’s, whereas Brian Boru died in the Battle of Clontarf–by legend, after the battle, while praying in his tent.
After leaving Trinity College, several students followed me over to the awe-inspiring National Museum of Ireland, where many of the artifacts we’ve been talking about–tangible “time capsules” from ancient history–are beautifully displayed. If you’re ever here, be sure to visit. We also saw a special exhibit about (yup) the Battle of Clontarf.
This ends the blog for Landmark’s 2014 “Irish Experience” trip. Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow some of our group as they ramble through the United Kingdom with Ned Olmsted and Lucy Stamp in the coming weeks, on a course excitingly titled Environmental Literature: Writing in the Wild.