Reflections on Francis Hutcheson

This is the plaque that Fergus Whelan posted on the stair tower at the Church on Mary Street (a religious building now operated as a bar and restaurant). The plaque honors Francis Hutcheson, “Father of the Scottish Enlightenment,” whose ideas made their way into the US Declaration of Independence.

The plaque’s coverings catch refections of the buildings across the intersection, at the west end of Henry Street. Here you see Primark’s world headquarters (the lovely red brick building with the patina-ed copper dome) to the right of Francis’ likeness.

Francis Hutchenson plaque

History Lessons (for the Irish, Italian, Tunisian, English and American crowd)

Fergus Wheelan is a walking archive of Irish history and politics.  He’s a self-made historian who brings complex history to life and makes it simple to understand.  Every guest who visits I find reading his book, Dissent into Treason. It’s available from Amazon in the US. I can’t fathom the amount of time he spent in libraries and archives research this book — nor the time it took to understand, structure, and explain the information in such an enlightening way.

It’s no wonder Fergus drawn to the Cobblestone Pub, a place operated by Tom Mulligan (a man with a degree in Irish history and policies himself).

Every visit to the Cobblestone is a lesson in tradition for me.

Last week, I had more friends in tow.  Here you see Toni Grey (an English friend who retired to Tunisia many moons ago) and her Italian boyfriend, Toni and Giuseppe Conte.

Incidentally, Giuseppe rents apartments and B&B rooms in Rome.  I visited one of the apartments and found it to be quite charming and extremely well located (near Campo de’ Fiori).  You can contact Giuseppe at <g.conte@promedinternational.com> for more information.

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….