Amanda Bernhard: On Being a Fulbright Student

In the linked YouTube video, US Fulbright student Amanda Bernhard explains how she discovered the Fulbright program, why she decided to pursue a grant to let her study the Irish language in Ireland, and what the Fulbright program has offered in addition to financial support.

Observations from a Walk with Amanda

Thought I’d share some random images from a walk I took in Dublin (from Smithfield to Kildare Street) with Amanda Bernhard.

Uncovering History at the Cobblestone Pub

Last week’s impromptu visit by (Fulbright student) Amanda Bernhard and her husband Jonathan Kennedy was a most welcome excuse to visit the Cobblestone!

Jonathan Kennedy playing uilleann pipes with an Irish man he has played pipes with the States.

Jonathan Kennedy playing uilleann pipes with an Irish man he has played pipes with the United States.

A casteen player with Tom Mulligan.

A casteen player with Tom Mulligan. Tom’s doing his best to keep Irish traditions alive and thriving here in Dublin.

My friends arrived late in the evening Thursday after a day of Irish classes followed by a cross-country drive.

They took me out for dinner at L. Mulligan. Grocer then we popped back to my apartment to fetch their instruments and retraced our steps one block to Tom Mulligan’s Cobblestone pub.

The last two times Jonathan and Amanda went to the Cobblestone I wasn’t with them (they were staying at my apartment while I was away). They went on weekends and the musicians’ corner was already full. They didn’t play then, although they did introduce themselves to Tom.

Last Thursday, however, they found space to play alongside the Irish musicians. We had a great time and enjoyed meeting new people, seeing Tom, and catching up on recent events.

After talking with Tom, I finally understand how Fergus Whelan came to have close friends on both sides of the “Troubles.” He is/was both Protestant and Republican (though today he’s a peacemaker as per my earlier blog). Protestants are typically associated with the other side — usually sticking with the Queen, so to speak — while Fergus apparently supported the unification of Ireland and Irish rule for the entire island. See how much like the American Civil War it all was? As a Virginian, I too had family on both sides of a bitter conflict. And some tensions run high on that conflict even today….

Fulbright Joy at Hughes Pub

Fulbright Alexander MacDonald, his friend Nora, Fulbright Amanda Bernhard, and her husband Jonathan Kennedy at Hughes Pub last night.

Fulbright Alexander MacDonald, his friend Nora Rodriguez, Fulbright Amanda Bernhard, and her husband Jonathan Kennedy at Hughes Pub last night.

Several of this year’s Fulbright Students to Ireland were invited to Dublin to be interviewed for a Fulbright video. They shared advice for others who want yo apply for student programs to Ireland. Fulbright was reimbursing their travel expenses but we were able to save them some money on housing; Amanda and her husband Jonathan stayed with me instead of a hotel.

After the interviews, two of the students, their significant others, and I went out to chat about our Fulbright experiences.

We found Jack Nealons pub too loud for easy conversation last night, so we skipped down the way to M. Hughes Pub. (Their names don’t have apostrophes in them. I’ve aimed for accuracy here….)

Hughes pub has the added benefit of being a late night venue. Last call is 2 AM at least on weekends, I do believe, while many other pubs stop serving hours earlier.

Hughes pub was perfect for the talking we wanted to do — the regular Friday night musicians were playing in the snug. Last night we sat outside the snug but we could still hear the music in the background. The level was very comfortable for talking and laughing. And that we did!

So what’s a snug? It’s an enclosed room, where in the distant past women were allowed to gather and drink. Back then, they weren’t allowed to be in the main (men’s) part of the pub. You’ve seen pictured of the snug before (It’s where brothers Gavin and Aidan Duffy play on Monday nights — I’ve attached a photo here in case you didn’t see that post).

the Duffy brothers playing in the snug at Hughes Pub last fall.

The Duffy brothers (to the left) playing in the snug at Hughes Pub last fall.

I learned all this from Saul Golden who teaches at the University of Ulster and whom I met at the All Ireland Architecture Research (AIARG) last weekend. You didn’t get to her Saul’s description, so I searched on line for a defnintion.

 The Free Dictionary offers this explanation:

snug 2 (sng)

n. Chiefly British

A very small private room in a pub.
[Short for snuggery.]

We asked the bar man about the snug (to confirm my suspicions that that little room actually was one). We talked theory. We joked around. And, we had some fun with the camera. A little about the characters of the night:

Alexander MacDonald is a highly accomplished tap dancer who hails from New York City. He is currently working on a Master’s degree at the University of Limerick. He is studying enthochoreology (which is the history of choreography in various cultures). He’s got two tapping videos on line, one improv and one from a party.

His friend Nora Rodriguez is from Mexico. She is working on a Master’s degree in contemporary dance performance. It was the first time Amanda, Jonathan, and I got to meet Nora, and we enjoyed out time with her immensely.

If you’ve followed this blog, you already know that Amanda Bernhard is a Fulbright who is working on a Master’s degree in Irish at the University of Galway. Her husband Jonathan is enrolled int the same degree program. They are very excited about the dialectology (theory and study of dialects) course they are taking this semester.

Immersion experiences like the one we’re in prompt reflection.  We’ve all be soul-searching.  Our evening at Hughes’ gave us an opportunity to share our thoughts and experiences — and to consider them in new ways.

I wanted to get in the photo, too, so we all had to be very still while I took a panorama.  (Shannon Chance, Alexander MacDonald, Nora, Amanda Bernhard, and Jonathan Kennedy at Hughes Pub last night.)

I wanted to get in the photo, too, so we all had to be very still while I took a panorama. In this photo Shannon Chance, Alexander MacDonald, Nora Rodriguez, Amanda Bernhard, and Jonathan Kennedy contemplate the photographic procedure.

Nora was fascinated by the story Amanda, Jonathan, and I told of the car fire we’d just witnessed beside my apartment building. She was captivated by the story but, just having seen Quentin Terintino’s newest flick, though the photo didn’t live up to the image our story had painted in her head. Nevertheless, I assure you the events were dramatic. Jonathan had insisted on taking a closer look, and as a result, we witnessed a lorry (i.e., truck) driver speed up to help. He jumped from his truck cab, extinguisher in hand, ran to the car and valiantly fought the blaze. The driver and her son had fled the vehicle after it burst into flames.

Amanda and I each recalled that time went into slow motion as we watched these event. We noticed many interesting details. We found the event to be quite dramatic!

Counting Time

Amanda and Jonathan at Cobblestone. (Copyright Dave Chance Photography, 2012.)

Amanda and Jonathan at Cobblestone, from an earlier blog post. (Copyright Dave Chance Photography, 2012.)

I’m sitting here counting time, waiting for my co-authors to send updates and Dave to finish editing some pictures so we can head off to see the nephews one last time before I fly out.

Meanwhile Jonathan and (Fulbright student) Amanda are visiting Dublin, and getting my apartment broken back in for living. Jonathan has just posted on Facebook the praises of the IKEA Poang chair (that I bought using I highly recommend buying it with the matching footstool.

Amanda and Jonathan are heading off to play at the Cobblestone pub tonight… I’d love to be there to hear them play!  I’m living vicariously through the photos Dave took last time they played there.

Sites and Sounds of Galway

The Dew Drop Inn… ah, the memories!  It’s the namesake of this pub in Galway (the brightly colored building to the left).  My grandfather (Layton McCarthy Massie) worked with the real Pa Walton once once a time, in Virginia. If you watched the show, you’ll recall Pa had to travel to find work a few times.  It was one of those times.  The family (upon which the TV series was based) lived in Skylar, Virginia, whereas my grandpa lived closer to the West Virginia line.

I had a ball in Galway this weekend, visiting Amanda Bernhard and her husband Jonathan Kennedy.  Here’s a glimpse of some of the things we did.

We attended the Fulbright Association’s Thanksgiving Banquet on Friday and the Irish Music Club’s singing event on Saturday.


Ag dul siar ar na seachtainí – Update of the last few weeks

Ag dul siar ar na seachtainí – Update of the last few weeks.

The piece Amanda wrote yesterday evening while we we blogging in her living room….