A Dubliner of All Trades

Today, I needed to purchase a new external hard drive so I could download photos for you.  On the way to the computer store, I ran into Brendan Lynch.  He ran the musical performances I attended at the Arlington Hotel with Esther, Kitty Lee and Patty.  He also owns The Horse Shoe, located where Capel runs into Bolton Street.

Brendan had the door to his shop open and the sounds of an Irish banjo filled the air.  I stepped into the tiny space, introduced myself, and learned a bit about Brendan’s past and present work.

Turns out Brendan is an artist, photographer, musician, performer, music teacher, instrument trader, city planner, conservation expert, and business owner… a Renaissance man in my book.  As he’s also a history buff, I told him about Fergus Whelan’s book, the planners I’d come across when visiting the former parliament building, and the tour I took recently with DIT’s Gavin Buggy.

Singing Along at the Cobblestone Pub

The musicians corner on Friday night.

The Cobblestone musicians corner on Friday night.

Patty sang us Annie's Song!

Patty sang us Annie’s Song!

I swear I have more fun each time I visit the Cobblestone.  I’ve developed such respect for the people there.  And, honestly, they make me feel like a rock star.  They are so complimentary of my Fulbright blog. It feels like “everybody knows my name.”

There’s far more of significance to the world more going on at the Cobblestone than at Cheers.  As case in point, I got to catch up with Fergus Whelan on this particular evening. He had left a copy of his book Dissent into Treason for me to pick up last week (click here for more about the book). I let Tom Mulligan know Kitty and I were mailing a CD of his music to Kevin Donleavy as well; perhaps it will be “on air” in Charlottesville soon. These folks are dedicated to preserving cultural traditions and recounting history.

Being at the Cobblestone really makes me wish I was musically talented!

Fortunately, my friend Patty is.  The musicians at the Cobblestone got her to sing a song.  And of course, we all followed along with “Country Roads,” a sure-fire selection when the mention of Virginia arises. Never mind that it’s about West Virginia and the three of us hail from Virginia!  In any case, you can practically see W.Va. from where Kitty and Patty live (Harrisonburg) and where I was born (the New River Valley).  And you can certainly see the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River from Kitty’s place.

Patty was ready for the event.  She and I had practiced singing the night before, actually.  On our last evening in Cork, Tony, Kitty, and Patty cooked dinner to avoid Valentine’s Day crowds in the restaurants. Then Patty and I had a festive sing-along around the dinner table and the peat fire Tony had built.

We drew from the Catholic folks songs of our childhoods, favorite camp songs, and music popular in the ’70s.  It all worked out fine when I set the key and Patty followed along. (It’s a disaster for me trying the other way around… I just can’t get up that high!  Even one octave lower is too high for me.)

When we needed help with the lyrics, Tony pulled up the text on line so we could sing karaoke-style.

Ah, the cider….

You’ll find me at the Cobblestone with a glass of Bulmer’s in my hand again “real soon”….

Worth the Long Wait at Muckross House

Kitty Lee, Patty, Shannon, and Tony at the lovely Muckross castle/house.

Bundled up and ready to tour Muckross House!

Muckross house is located near the town of Kilarney in southwestern Ireland.  We went there — twice — last week.  We had to work hard to see inside of the house, but I knew my three traveling companions would enjoy seeing the place.  Dave and I had been there in 2003 and had a splendid time and other friends of ours mentioned this as a highlight.

So we scurried there after seeing the Ring of Kerry, checking the official website for opening times. It indicated the house was open 9-5:30, seven days a week, in winter.  But although we arrived at about 4:20, the place was shut tight.  There was absolutely no sign of life inside the ticket booth or house and there were no signs posted with the tour times of opening hours.

However, the restrooms and grounds were still open and the park ranger assured us the house would reopen at 9 the next morning.  So we headed back to Cork for the night — an 1.5 hour drive — and hurried to the house again early the next morning.  We attempted to phone the Muckross office starting at 9 AM, but no one would answer the phone.  When we arrived at 9:30, the two ticketing agents told our host, Tony Duggan, that the first tour would be given at 11:30.  They said to visit the grounds until the tour started.  He let them know we already had!

Fortunately for us, the man is a CEO and knows how to get things done.  After all, we had other sites to see on our last day to the region. He managed to finagle a tour at around 10.  We experienced a fairly curt delivery of information with little opportunity to ask questions, but nevertheless, we enjoyed seeing the house.

I hope when you go to visit this fine building and learn its interesting history (it was last owned by an American family who gave it to the Irish people) you have better luck with scheduling than we had!

Graduating with the Saints at DIT (and Getting Fergus’ Take on it All)

DIT President Brian Norton with Shannon Chance.

DIT President Brian Norton with Fulbright Scholar Shannon Chance.

DIT’s graduation ceremony is an event to behold!

Today’s occurred at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which is the largest church building in Ireland).  You may recall that Kitty Lee, Patty, and I visited it last week.

At DIT exams for the fall semester occur in January, and winter graduation falls shortly after.

During the ceremony, each graduate’s name, degree title, and thesis topic is announced. Today’s list of topics highlighted valuable contributions DIT is making to society in areas such as physics, health and nutrition, energy, and computing.

For me, a true highlight of the ceremony was a performance by two students: a signer and a harpist.  The talented duo really brought this grand space to life.  (Kitty, Patty, and I missed Evensong in this church last night — by just a few sad minutes — and so I tried to live today’s event vicariously on their behalf while they soared above the Atlantic on their journey home.)

Today also presented my first opportunity to meet DIT’s president, Prof. Brian Norton in person.  When the opportunity appeared, I stepped forward without hesitation, extended my hand, and introduced myself.  I was truly dumbfounded when Dr. Norton said he knew who I was and that he had read my blog.  Wow!  I look forward to meeting him again soon.

Fergus Wheelan's insightful book on Irish/Dublin history of the 1600 and 1700s.

Fergus Wheelan’s insightful book on Irish/Dublin history of the 1600 and 1700s.

At the reception, I also met a few members the electrical engineering faculty I haven’t yet gotten to know.  I hope to have more to tell about their work soon.

I’ve included some photos of the day, including a snapshot of the English and Protestant flags hanging in St. Patrick’s (Protestant) Cathedral.

Upon returning to my apartment, I curled up with Fergus Whelan‘s book Dissent into Treason. In the first chapter, Fergus does a remarkable job of explaining the formative roots of various Western denominations. I’ve learned so much in just 20 pages… including distinctions between Unitarians, Presbyterians and Congregationalists, Quakers, Levelers, Catholics, and the like. I believe Dissenters were people whose supported the creation the Irish nation despite pressure from their larger brethren and/or religious underpinnings to support the English crown.  I’ll gain clarity on that soon, I’m sure.

Have you ver wondered why more Protestants read the Bible today than Catholics (in the US at least)?  I certainly have.

Fergus’ book explains that in Ireland in the 1600s, Catholics were only permitted to read scriptures in Latin or Greek.  Protestants were given freedom to read in English. Hummmm.

In Ireland there’s so very much to discover.  I’m trying to make the most of every moment, but there’s not nearly enough of time to do, see, and learn all I’d like….

An Evening Stroll through Dublin Town

Downtown Dublin is beautiful in the evening. Won’t you come on a stroll with me?

Shipping Out from Cobh

My cousin Roland Ouellette and his spouse Rebecca Allen located the ship log for our great grandmother’s 1911 voyage from Cobh, Ireland to Ellis Island.  Roland and Rebecca have been doing a lot of research on ancestry.com and growing our family tree.  Great sleuth work, cuz — I’m thrilled to have this document!

ship log

1911 ship log

A Flexible Learning Lab at DIT

This is a picture of a flexible lab for learning engineering.  It is a space for group-driven problem-based learning, or a “PBL classroom.” A colleague of mine back in Virginia who is an expert in engineering education said she wasn’t familiar with this type of space, so I though I’d post it for others to see.

The flexible learnign lab in the DIT electrical engineering program.

The flexible learning lab in the DIT electrical engineering program.

It was designed to promote team learning and provide access to materials and tools for building engineering projects.  Above, Gavin’s Instrumentation class had just wrapped up for the morning.

Music Video of Dublin

According to artist Matthieu Chardon:

Dublin is one of the most amazing city in Europe, thanks to the people, raw landscape, warm atmosphere, history, culture and parties. Ireland in its all is even better.

He shot this time-lapse footage of Dublin in November 2012 and edited it in December.

It gives an authentic taste of this city.  I love it!

A Visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Kitty Lee, Patty, and I visited Dublin’s beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday as well.




Traditional Irish Music and Dance Show

Kitty, Patty, and I took in a show at the Arlington Hotel last night!