During the spring semester, students in an Irish identity course studied the many forces that shaped and influenced the construction of Irish identities over time, with a particular focus on Irish nationalism. Of course, to truly connect with the culture, pictures and text simply wouldn't do. So, 24 students along with Karen Sonnelitter, Ph.D., associate professor of history, and Lara Whelan, Ph.D., associate professor of English, jetted off for the the Emerald Isle.
The group arrived in Dublin on May 20, and spent the next 10 days walking through history. They visited Kilmainham Gaol where the 1916 Easter Rising rebels were executed. They also traveled around Northern Ireland and met with Dr. Laurence McKeown, a former IRA volunteer who participated in the Hunger Strike. They also made it to the Bogside in Derry and toured the Museum of Free Derry, the site of the Bloody Sunday Massacre. The group even spent a few days in the west of Ireland exploring Galway and the Aran Islands, where Irish (Gaelic) is still spoken as the first language. The students even picked up a phrase or two.
"On this journey to my homeland, I was able to experience the island on which the genetic imprint of my family was established thousands of years previously. The culture in Ireland was so welcoming everywhere we went. I felt as though I was being welcomed home by friends and family in each city. Everyone was excited to share Ireland with us. From tours to museums, we were able to see the history we learned in class come alive. This was the trip of a lifetime. We will all look back on this as one of the hallmarks of our Siena experience. Erin Go Bragh and Go Siena!"
Clare Kelly '23
"The trip to Ireland was amazing! We moved around a lot which helped us get a broad perspective of Irish identity throughout the country. A memorable experience was when we visited Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands. Although it was about 60 degrees that day, a couple of my friends decided to go into the water during our free time. It was such a fun moment and the island was very beautiful. The memories I made with my friends in Ireland are ones I will carry with me forever."
Sabrina Zayas '23