If there was no fear… what would you dare to dream?

Ted, Damon, and crew conducted a RoboSlam for 18 undergraduate engineering student form the University of Wisconsin last week.  I'll post more photos of the event soon, on our RoboSlam blog.

Ted, Damon, and crew conducted an abbreviated RoboSlam this part week for 18 undergraduate engineering student from the University of Wisconsin last week. They are students of former Fulbright, Bob O’Connell (far right). I’ll post more photos of the event soon, on our RoboSlam website.

Solstice in Dublin!

Solstice in Dublin!  It was my first solstice here and I enjoyed every minute of it! Interestingly, there’s indirect sunlight for even longer than 17 hours. The first rays appear before 4 AM and the last disappear after 10 PM.

Dublin is full of sunshine!  Temperatures are topping top out each day at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun has been staying up for 17 hours each day.  That makes for perfect weather for outdoor yoga.  On the day of the solstice, our yoga instructor, Peter, shared this provocation:  If there was no fear, what positive change would you make in your life?

I mulled the proposition.  I know better than anyone:  There’s good reason to fear what you may lose by chasing outrageous dreams.  But there’s also good reason to seek new knowledge and experience.  I hope someday my work will be a testament to trying hard to live life to the fullest.

This, the second week of my Marie Curie research fellowship, was full of adventures, errands, and learning.  My colleagues and I conducted a RoboSlam and a workshop on Problem-Based Learning at the start of the week.

I was honored to be included in a dinner and workshop with a guest from Portugal, José Manuel Nunes de Oliveira, who you may recall from an earlier blog.  Jose shared his work with the faculty of the DT07 electrical engineering program. This group of teachers is considering making the DT07 program more problem-based.

Jose's three essential elements of PBL.

Jose’s three essential elements of PBL.

Jose identified three elements he sees as essential to PBL (Problem- or Project-Based Learning):

  • Project drives learning
  • Group work
  • Reflection (including Self -and Peer-Assessment)

Jose described various aspects of assessment since this is a topic of concern to many of the teachers in the program.

I wish I had time to post details of the workshop, but I really need to get onto “real” work today.  Below, I’ve uploaded a photo journal of many highlights of the week. I hope they inspire you to find a least one new adventure today–however big or small.

Exotic Familiarity

I feared that somehow things wouldn’t seem as new and fresh on my return to Dublin as they were before.  During my Fulbright fellowship, I spent 365 days in this vibrant city — but even a vibrant city can become overtly familiar, I would have thought.

And yet, as I happily rediscovered many familiar comforts this past week (like Beef and Guinness Pie at Pieman in Temple Bar), I also uncovered a plethora of new adventures here.

On Saturday, during Fergus Whelan’s history tour, I met a researcher from Fordham University.  She said how much she’d enjoyed finding this blog while she was preparing for her trip here.  Her words encouraged me to get back to posting.  I hope you find something interesting and informative in my little picture gallery of highlights of the past week.

Well, it’s 10:20 PM and the sun has just set.  It will be up again by 5 AM or so, and I’d best get ready to hit the sack. I’ve another big week ahead!

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.

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.

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’.

It’s 10pm: Do You Know Where Your Cobblestone Is?

The Whelans.

The Whelans enjoying another lovely Friday evening at the Cobblestone pub.

I galloped down to the Cobblestone tonight to hear my favorite set of the week. The Friday 7:30-9:30 group includes singers as well as instrumentalists.  This week the Whelans were there, so I had friends to chat with.

It’s bright and cheery in the musicians corner during the evening this time of year… the sun stays up in Dublin until ten pm.  And it raises before five am!  We are so far north.

Irish Music Radio this Weekend

This just in from Kevin Donleavy:

Pull up your easy chair this Saturday, and have a listen to Irish trad music on-line.  The date is June 1,  and the programme runs from 10 am till 12 noon in the eastern US,  which means 3 to 5 pm in Ireland. Kevin Donleavy is the usual host,  and the show is called ATLANTIC WEEKLY PART TWO.
 
Here are the easy listening steps.  On your computer, go to http://wtju.net. Next, select Listen Live on the right side bar.  Then, choose between Ogg and MP3.
 
Here are some highlights from the music to be broadcast. Mary McNamara will play Co. Clare tunes on her concertina. You can hear songs and two uilleann pipers from the Belfast band Réalta.  Kerry’s own Mary Courtney will sing some ballads, and you can hear Liam Weldon singing that powerful song,  “Where Is Our James Connolly.”  Harper Sue Richards will perform, and you can hear Paudie O’Connor on accordion play polkas and reels with John O’Brien on uilleann pipes.  Dublin singer Pat Broaders will  do a fine version of the US trad song called  “Storms Are on the Ocean.”  That’s just the beginning ….
 
Hope you can tune in. You will also hear the latest news from the only Irish archaeological dig in the state of Virginia,  and there’s more information about it at www.clannmhor.org.  And the latest news from such groups as BRIMS (the Blue Ridge Irish Music School), and the Washington branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.