Today, we had a jam-packed day in Dublin. We visited the Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Jameson whiskey distillery. At our first stop, the Dublin Castle, we were able to see one of the most prominent buildings in Ireland. I am learning a lot about the history of Ireland on this trip. Before traveling to Ireland, I was unaware of how the Irish earned their independence from the rest of the British Isles. As it turns out, during World War I, the Irish started an independence movement that eventually earned them their current status as an independent country.
The Dublin Castle featured some of this history. It had portraits of British royalty all over, but nowadays, it serves as the place of induction for the ceremonial position of Irish President. As I learned from a sign at the Castle, the Irish government, just like the UK, has two head positions: a purely ceremonial position (which I learned in a freshman year political science class is called a head of state), and a position which is in charge of the government, or a head of government. In England, the head of government is the prime minister, which is also the case in Ireland. This position is elected by the party with the most members in the popularly-voted Parliament. The difference between the UK and Irish governments is that the UK head of state is the unelected queen or king, while the Irish head of state is the president, who is elected once every 7 years, and can serve a maximum of 2 terms. The building was beautiful (I am running out of words for “beautiful” or “ornate” or “intricate”)–reminiscient of the English Parliament building in its stunning beauty.
We also got to experience the incredibly ornate St. Patrick’s cathedral, named after the famous missionary who brought the Catholic faith to Ireland. This church was incredibly intricate, featuring many stained glass windows, plaques and memorials honoring parishioners and war veterans, and more.
In an ironic juxtaposition, on the same day we visited Ireland’s national cathedral, we also visited the Jameson whiskey distillery. There, we learned what differentiates Irish whiskey from Scottish or “scotch” whisky (notice the spelling) and American whiskey, namely the smoother aftertaste. This was the second day in a row we sampled a famous Irish alcohol brand, after our trip to the Guinness beer factory yesterday.
I am currently fighting trip fatigue. That doesn’t mean that I am overly tired–it means that, after fourteen days of seeing incredible sights, walking through informative museums and ancient buildings, and learning about international cultures, I am starting to become desensitized to just how special his experience is. In order to combat this feeling, I try to put all my experiences in context–considering what it means to be from the specific place I am from, and what it might mean to be from England or Ireland or Wales or elsewhere. I think every single thing I see, from the most unique castle to the most ordinary detail on the subway, helps me understand more about the national identity of other people, and in turn, about my own national identity.
Tomorrow is actually our last day in Dublin, so this will be my last daily blog post from Dublin, and I have really enjoyed the limited time we have spent in this city. Dublin is a charming, welcoming, and beautiful place, full of wonderful things to see and do.