I’m Still Alive! Want to Hear About Ireland?

April 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm Leave a comment

It may amaze you to find out that I did, in fact, make it back from my trip to Ireland. I realize that I haven’t posted all month and that I’ve been promising a review of Borstal Boy for weeks. If you really want to hear my excuses, they involve the fact that I didn’t do any homework while in Ireland, a nasty cold that lasted for several days, and college midterms.

I had originally planned to do several posts about my trip, but I’m not sure that’s really feasible. Especially since I don’t want to get too far off the track of the point of this site, which is supposed to be about reading books. On that note, though, I haven’t read a book since finishing A Star Called Henry on the plane ride back. (Darn! I just realized I should probably write a review of that, too!)

I’ll get back to reading soon (I hope!), but for now I’m going to pause to discuss a few of the highlights of the trip. We started off in Dublin, where we toured around the city, stopping off at various places like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, the Kilmainham Gaol, and the General Post Office.

Trinity College houses the Book of Kells, which is very old and very cool, but, personally, I was more drawn to the sites that directly tied in to what we’ve been reading in my Irish Literature class. In A Star Called Henry, the main character (Henry) takes part in the Easter 1916 uprising, camped out in the General Post Office. Of course Henry isn’t real, but the historical events were all too real. When visiting the post office, we could actually reach out and put our fingers inside bullet holes in the columns. Looking up and down the street, our teacher pointed out several stores that Henry is supposed to have shot the windows out of, many of them still operating under the same names. Later on in the book, Henry is captured and held in the Kilmainham Gaol, which is also where the leaders of the 1916 rebellion were executed.

The inside of a cell in Kilmainham Gaol

The inside of a cell in Kilmainham Gaol

It was amazing to be able to step into a place with so much history, especially one that we’d heard and read so much about. Having physically stepped into places like this added so much more to my reading experience as I finished the novel. Learning about the prison’s history also reminded me a great deal of Borstal Boy although that memoir speaks about prisons in England during a later time period. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the two, especially in the systems themselves.

I was able to draw fewer connections to literature when we arrived in Galway, but it was still a great experience. We walked all over the city, took pictures by the Spanish Arch, visited the museum… And one day we took a trip out to the Cliffs of Moher, which were beautiful. I took so many pictures of the rock of the cliffs and the ocean below and how far out they stretched along the coast.

The cliffs!

The cliffs!

And on our final night, back in Dublin once more, we went to the Abbey Theatre to see a production of King Lear. It was my first time seeing a Shakespeare play performed live, and we had amazingly good seats. Our teacher said that it was the best performance of King Lear that she’d ever seen, and I agree that it was really well done. I particularly enjoyed the feeling of suspense I had since I hadn’t previously read the play. I knew it must end tragically, but I didn’t know how, and that made it very exciting.

It was a great experience overall, and I hope to bring it up again as I review A Star Called Henry and other Irish books that I still hope to read in the months ahead. When I finally get the time.

[[A quick note. I could have sworn I published this post weeks ago, only to find today that it’s still marked as a draft. I blame my laptop.]]

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5 Posts that You Should Read On Writing a Review of Borstal Boy

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