Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ireland Study Abroad, Installment 2

We continue to be non-stop busy, but that's probably for the best because there's a lot to do in Dublin, as well as attempt to have some semblance of classes. We've been able to meet with a lot of guest speakers for historical context and information from their areas of specialty. Tuesday, we met Claire Keegan, a published short story author, who was a fascinating individual. As a class we had read "Foster" and "Walk the Blue Fields", and I had read her other stories from the collections Antartica and Walk the Blue Fields. Many of her short stories were slightly disturbing. Overall, I think it was refreshing to meet with an author who approaches her art from a more personal direction than an academic might.
Both the National Library and the National Museum have free admission. We toured the Yeats Exhibition and had a quick overview of the National Museum archaeology exhibits. The collection of gold is especially impressive, and the bog bodies are another highlight, although that display was creepy. I'm not sure why, but it's very different from seeing a skeleton; it's the whole body, flesh, organs, bones, and all, of someone who died violently.
We've been able to take our art practice outside with us this week, which was a nice change. This week we're working on cross-hatching and quick gesture drawings. I think I need to work on being more patient while working on cross-hatching; my drawings often look very messy and scribbled, rather than neat and realistic, and I think if I could make myself slow down more that would help.
Friday was an all day field trip to several sites in County Meath: the Loughcrew Passage Tomb, the Hill of Tara, and Trim Castle. I enjoyed getting to see a little bit of the history that was discussed in my Norse and Celtic Mythology class last fall, and it was particularly interesting to see the castle. 
Castles are a setting that tends to be present in the imagination from an early age, from fairy tales, movies, fantasy novels, and so on. I'm not sure how much research authors actually do into what castles are truly like, and it's not like fantasy authors are writing historical fiction--they're free to create their setting however they like. Furthermore, there are a lot of different types of castles from various historical periods. Nevertheless, I was surprised by how small this particular castle was. Even the Great Hall didn't seem all that imposing. The most interesting fact I learned is that Trim Castle (and apparently some other castles as well) was plastered and painted. The stone walls we saw would've been a bright white, with a roof of red tiles, although apparently bright colors were often used for other castles--purple and pink, for example. This raised the interior temperature by about 15 degrees and made the building highly visible. With glass windows and thick tapestries as well, the castle would've been a comfortable temperature to live in, although the ruins we toured were drafty and unwelcoming.

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