Today’s blog post comes to us from University of Oregon student & API Intern participant Grace Falvey. She did a summer internship placement with us in Dublin, Ireland!
The nine weeks that I got to spend in Dublin, Ireland was a time for me to find out where I came from.
Both of my Dads parents are from Ireland, so it was always a highly talked about within my family. This is what drove me to choose to study there. My grandfather was born in Anascaul in Co. Kerry. I got to visit the little pink house that he was born in. This was a very special experience because it was a very big part of my childhood because it is a location that all of my has talked about.
Taking this trip also allowed me to visit my grandfathers grave which allowed me to feel connected with him again. For that weekend I felt like I was living in his shoes. I also got to meet 18 family members that I had only met when I was an infant. These were all opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t choose Ireland. Being in Ireland allowed me to feel a part of a community that I was searching for.
Not only did I get to learn a ton about my personal family, but I got to learn so much about the Irish culture itself.
I got to intern within the Gaelic Athletic Association which is the national league for the two Irish sports: Gaelic Football and Hurling. Since I want to go into a career in the sports industry learning about what types of sports a country plays is one of my biggest interest in a country’s culture.
Irish sports are very different to American sports. First off, they are super physical with no pads involved which is crazy to me that there isn’t more injuries. Also the GAA has a very unique set up because if you are good enough to play at the county level you play for the county you were born in even if that’s not where you live. So no agents are needed because there is only one team that you can play for. Also, not one player is paid. The stadium I worked for sat 83,000 people and I was there for three sellouts and not one player on the pitch was getting paid for that match. I think this aspect shows how important culture is to their country. They don’t pay their players to keep the passion of the game. It is all for the pride that a player has in their county.
I really fell in love with the GAA from my internship. Last weekend I woke up at 6:30 to drive to San Francisco Irish Cultural Center to watch the All-Ireland Football game on the big screen. Kerry the county I am from was in it so I got to show some of my county pride.
There is a lot of pride is the Irish culture.
When the country was under English rule, many of the Irish customs were banned and people would be killed if they didn’t obey the rules. They weren’t allowed to play GAA, practice catholic mass, or speak the Irish language. This made them have to have secret meetings and practice these customs in obscure locations. This is actually how the Irish got the stereotypes of having a drinking problem. They would meet at pubs and have secret catholic mass on Sunday mornings, making it look like they were drinking that early on a Sunday morning. Since the country went through a time of turmoil like that gave the country a foundation of pride to live off of now.
I learned a lot about the history of Ireland and the politics within Ireland. It was very eye opening to enter a work environment where all of my coworkers knew so much about the politics in the United States and I could barely name the Irish president. I think it shows that there can be slight ignorance within America. The rest of the world knows about us, yet we can’t take the time learn about other countries.
Currently, there is a lot going on with BREXIT and while I was there Boris Johnson became England’s Prime Minister. He is planning on doing BREXIT no deal, which means that a hard border will have to be built dividing Norther Ireland and the rest of Ireland. This will bring the country back in time. While I was there I got to go to Belfast which is in Northern Ireland so it is technically in the United Kingdom but there is no border you can move freely between countries. Belfast’s history is very interesting because there was a ton of political turmoil and now they still live in neighborhoods by religion. The catholics live in one gated neighborhood and the protestants live in the other.
I really enjoyed all of the people I got to meet during my time abroad.
Irish culture is very curious in my opinion. When you meet someone knew they will most likely interrogate you slightly because they want to learn all about you. They are also very nice and like Americans which I didn’t feel in all of the countries I traveled to this summer. Being in an office setting I got to learn a lot of terminology and a lot about the country itself. It was like 8 hours of learning every day. Having this experience allowed me to open my eyes to the rest of the world. It taught me to ask questions and grew my desire to learn. I can’t wait to go back to Ireland and spend more time learning about their culture.