Shannon’s American Wake

On my last night in Dublin, my friends came together at the Cobblestone for my “American wake”.

Sheila Whelan (Fergus’ wife) originally suggested the idea.  She told me that when someone leaves Ireland for the US, the Irish traditionally hold a wake for them. In older days when people, like my great-grand mother, set sail for the States, a wake was held since the person wasn’t expected to return. Thankfully, flying has made the return trip much easier!

When I explained I wanted to return, Sheila said, “no worries!”  Evidently, my return  will give us a reason for a welcome back party!  I’m hoping for one of those on my November visit.

The Cobblestone pub in broad daylight.

The Cobblestone pub in broad daylight.

Irish wakes are typically held when someone dies, and they celebrate the deceased person’s life. There’s lots of drinking, craic/merry-making, and music. They are similar to America wakes, which are held for the living. As explained on Wikipedia, the term American wake:

refers to a gathering in an Irish home the night before a family member emigrated to America, in which friends and family would say goodbye to the emigrant for what was probably the last time.

In addition:

American Wake is the first full-length solo album by Patrick Clifford, released in 2010.

Thanks to my many friends who came to the wake, and to others who sent well-wishes from their summer vacation destinations.

Promoting Sustainability at HU

HU Faculty Institute 2014-1-Shannon ChanceToday was a busy first day back at Hampton University.  The dean re-introduced me to the faculty with a big “welcome home!”  I have to admit,  my colleagues’ enthusiastic greetings made me feel like a superstar all day.

After the morning keynote sessions, the whole faculty headed over to the HU waterfront for our annual picnic. This year’s weather was amazing and the jazz ensemble sounded lovely.

The faculty wrapped up the afternoon with information sessions, one of which I helped facilitate.  My colleagues and I encouraged our peers to integrate environmental topics into the courses they teach.

You can view my Prezi online:  I showed a few images of how we integrate sustainability into architecture courses at HU.  I also discussed the “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” course I teach in the summer at William and Mary.  I took the opportunity to promote student-centered pedagogies (which I studied at Dublin Institute of Technology) and the importance of getting students to generate new knowledge (a core idea in W&M’s School of Education).

Powerscourt Gardens


Powerscourt country house  (downloaded from

Powerscourt country house (downloaded from

Visiting the Powerscourt house, garden, and waterfall–located south of Dublin–makes a nice outing from the city.  Some coach companies offer a day trip here, but you can save a lot of money if you just take Dublin bus!  The interior of the house is a bit disappointing, as it was gutted by fire. But the exterior, garden, and nearby waterfall are glorious.

The Good News

The Good News is, I got my grant proposal submitted.  Because I’m pretty new to the field I’m researching, my chances are probably below the 13.2% success rate. On the other hand, I’m hoping the fact that I was so careful and spent so much time will boost my odds.  Sometimes the best you can do is try.

The Bad News is, I haven’t had time to blog.  There’s still so much to show and tell.  But since I’m headed home in less than a week,  I am up to my elbows in packing instead of showing and telling.

In the meantime, I’ll upload an intriguing map posted on Facebook by my brilliant and talented former student from Hampton University, Lanre Ajibola. The size and shape of the USA is shown in dark purple.  Lanre was born in Nigeria and he says:

Quick Geography lesson: next time anyone talks about Africa like it’s a country, present this map – you are welcome!

Seeing as how I directed a Fulbright-Hays program to Tanzania in 2005, it makes sense for me to post this on my Fulbright blog even though it has nothing to do with my trip to Ireland. 🙂

Speaking of relative sizes, I’d better get back to seeing how much I can stuff into my suitcases without going over the weight limits….

Relative size of Africa

Relative size of Africa

Heather’s Kerry Travels

Heather on the Cliffs of Moher!

Heather on the Cliffs of Moher!

While I’m here in Dublin trying to finalize this grant proposal, my sister Heather is on the western coast of Ireland visiting Eilish O’Hanlon and her husband Con.

You may recall that Eilish and my mom share the same great grandparents. Con and Eilish have taken Heather to see the place my own great grandmother was baptized.  They took my mom and me there in May, but I’ve neglected to post photos as of yet.

Incidentally, because Con is a first cousin of Tom Mulligan (proprietor of the world-famous Cobblestone Pub), I’ve got family all over Dublin!   🙂

Today I’m sharing the photos Heather has posted on her Facebook page over the past week.

Dreaming of Birmingham

Birmingham UK 4

Shannon burried in books and papers.

Shannon swimming in books and papers.

I’ve been buried in books and papers for days.

I’m working overtime on a research proposal… trying to find funds to return to Dublin so that I can follow up on findings I’ve made and keep learning new research skills by working with experts and doc students here.

The last time I got to go outside and explore was last week in Birmingham.  Wikipedia explains that Birmingham is:

city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlandsof England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London with 1,074,300 residents (2011 census), an increase of 96,000 over the previous decade.[2] … A medium-sized market town during the medieval period, Birmingham grew to international prominence in the 18th century at the heart of the Midlands Enlightenment and subsequent Industrial Revolution, which saw the town at the forefront of worldwide developments in science, technology and economic organisation, producing a series of innovations that laid many of the foundations of modern industrial society.[5] By 1791 it was being hailed as “the first manufacturing town in the world”.[6]

I’ll share pictures of that city today, in all its splendor….

Quintessential Carcassonne

There’s so much I still haven’t shown you–like photos from our June trip to Carcassonne, France.  This town was restored to it’s medieval glory by the very famous architect, Viollet-le-Duc in the mid 1800s.  His work was going on just before the American Civil War.

The place is in tip-top condition.  It reflects Viollet-le-Duc’s best guess as to the walled city’s use and detailing many moons before.  He did quite a bit of forensic analysis in this project!  According to Wikipedia:

Carcassone was founded by the Visigoths in the fifth century, though the Romans had fortified the settlement earlier. The fortress, which was thoroughly restored in 1853 by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.

Leading SEFI at the University of Birmingham, UK

Prof. Kamel Hawwash

Prof. Kamel Hawwash

Last week I travelled over to the UK to visit professor Kamel Hawwash, the incoming president of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI).

Prof. Hawwash has done a great deal of  work in attracting and retaining diverse students in engineering, a topic known as “attractiveness” in the UK, and one in which I’m aiming to do more research.

Prof. Hawwash’s SEFI presidency will focus on two main topics:

1) employability and skills

2) attractiveness

We had much to discuss and we met for nearly two hours!  After our meeting, I had a chance to look around the University of Birmingham campus and then explore the city before flying back to Dublin via Ryanair.

Making Press

Last week, a PR person from DIT asked to use a photo I took at graduation for publicity.  Through our communication, I learned she’d used another of my images–one from RoboSlam–in a press release back in May.


DIT Dublin Institute of Technology - TY-students-learn-about-eng

Sister Sister

My sister, Heather, is visiting.  She’s come to take acting classes.

Last night, we took in a play… Major Barbara, written by Shaw, performed at the Abbey Theater in Dublin.  I discovered that I’ve really got to concentrate to keep up with Shaw, but it’s worth the effort.  His work is packed with meaning….

Heather has been spending quite  a bit of time down at the Cobblestone. She goes in much later in the evening than I do. Evidentially late hours are the best for finding Tom, the owner, who is a night owl.

On Friday evening, I’d gone into the Cobblestone to hear some singing and I left at 9.  Heather stopped in later and met even more of Tom’s family.  She’d gone to thank Tom because he had taken her to see construction of a new theater that he serves as a member of the board.

I really enjoyed Friday evening there.  Some of the songs transported me back to my first trip to Ireland in 2003.  The country was quite a bit different at that time: songs were full of political strife and pubs were full of families, chatter, and smokey haze. The ban on smoking in pubs, apparent tightening of age limits in pubs, and the economic boom / Celtic Tiger all took their toll on Ireland’s pub culture.  The country’s newfound peace also shifted the tone, and for the peace I’m grateful.

The Cobblestone, however, has managed to retain its charm. And it continues to do that despite being listed in every tourist guide. A lot of that, I believe, has to do with Tom’s warm and generous spirit. He makes every person feel special and welcome.

Heather left town today, but sent me over to hear Tom and his friends from the Cobblestone play at the Northside Music Festival in Wolftone ‘Park’.