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04/17/2018

The Final Stretch

by Katie King 

 

It’s the last week of classes, which means a few things for me. My time in Ireland is almost done, the deadlines for my final assignments are starting to creep up and summer is almost here.

            While I normally love the end of the academic year because for me it means leaving school and living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for three and a half months, this year it is particularly bittersweet. I have dreamed of studying in Ireland for as long as I can remember and to think I only have one more month in this country is truly heartbreaking. Even though I know that I’ll will be returning at some point, it’s difficult to imagine not waking up in Dublin every morning. The past three months have been a dream but the reality of my school responsibilities are slowly materializing.

            Still, one of the biggest challenges while studying here (besides learning to understand the heavy accent) has been adjusting to the Irish school system. Irish students spend a lot less time in the classroom than their American counterparts and learning course material is much more self-motivated. Grades in most classes depend on one or two major assignments or exams at the end of the semester, whereas in the states, students can have quizzes every week, three essays due a term and an exam for just one course on top of all the required reading. Coming from an American school system to an Irish one almost seemed like taking a semester off. Until now.

            When choosing classes for this semester, I noted whether or not the courses were 100% continuous assessment bases, 100% examination based or a mixture of the two. Personally, I am not a good test taker. Studying for examinations has always been painful for me, but I love to write. I always excel in classes that require more writing and analysis than the regurgitation of information. I decided at the beginning of the semester that I would try and pick classes with 100% continuous assessment requirements in order to be academically successful.

            Studying abroad has been an amazing experience that I will never forget. I’ve gotten to travel to several different countries, see most of the country of Ireland and I have made amazing memories along the way. That being said, I have not put in quite as much effort into my studies as I normally do at home. My weekends have been spent exploring foreign countries, giving me very little opportunity to catch up on my courses. I recommend for any student who is considering studying abroad to try and make sure their course schedule plays to their strengths so when the examination period comes around they don’t go into a panic. Even though I will be spending the next week or so working on a number of essays for my courses, it does not scare me as much as it would if I was having to prepare for five examinations.

03/20/2018

“Let’s stay further outside the city; it’ll be cheaper!”

By Madison McLaughlin 

Ah, the infamous words of a study abroad student trying to save money. Upon our arrival to Dublin, my friends and I began planning trips, both domestically and internationally, in a frenzy. We wanted to get as many weekends booked as we could to make the most of our study abroad experience. We hit the ground running and toured Ireland for our first few weekends, staying in spacious airbnbs in both Cork and Galway.

 

When initially looking at accommodation options, it is only natural that a college student’s eyes gravitate towards those with the lowest prices. However, with lower costs comes a greater distance. This may sound great at first because after all, you are saving money, right? Well, not exactly.

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We quickly learned that though nicer accommodations existed further outside city centers at a reasonable price, we would pay the price in transportation fees. Even though we could use our leap cards in other Irish cities besides Dublin, we found that bus stops outside other city centers were not as prominent, not to mention they do not always run at the most convenient times. We ended up calling several taxis because, of course, we wanted to be in the city center during the day and then once again at night. Though we had four people to split fares, our methods of transportation ended up being much pricier than we expected.

 

In retrospect, paying the extra ten or twenty euro to stay closer to city centers is DEFINITELY worth it. For what we ended up spending in both taxi and bus fares to and from our accommodations, we could have stayed in a location much closer, and saved a lot of stress running back and forth. Though we will continue to look for ways to save money, location is one thing we have come to splurge a little more on when traveling. A walk to restaurants and pubs is a much better option than pre-booking taxis and trying to schedule bus routes – save yourself the trouble (and money)!

 

Despite our slight travel frustrations, we had wonderful weekends in both Cork and Galway. Cork had many more shopping options, but nothing beats the cobblestone streets of Galway strung with lights in every direction, not to mention its proximity to the Cliffs of Moher. My friends and I were incredibly lucky on our visit to the cliffs, as it was one of the sunniest days I have yet to see in Ireland. The bar has been set pretty high!


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03/09/2018

Tips for Making your GNIB/INIS Appointment

By Elise Bauernfiend

 

If you’re studying in Ireland for more than 90 days, you’ll need to register with Irish Immigration Authorities, known as INIS. While this can seem intimidating, it’s not difficult if you know what to do. Here are the tips that helped my appointment go smoothly.

 

 

  • Make and appointment well in advance

 

I made my appointment about two and a half months before the appointment actually happened, and I still got one of the only spots left of the INIS website. Appointments are limited and can only be made on the INIS website, so make sure you get your appointment early.

 

 

  • Read the INIS website thoroughly so you know exactly what to bring

 

INIS has very specific requirements about what you need to bring to your appointment. Read the list carefully at least a couple weeks in advance of your appointment so you have time to get all the required documents.

 

 

  • Bring all the required materials with you to your appointment, ESPECIALLY YOUR PASSPORT

 

This may seem obvious, but you need all the materials with you at your appointment, especially your passport. There’s a chance they won’t look at some of the smaller pieces of material, but without your passport you cannot proceed with the appointment.

 

 

  • Don’t show up early or late

 

It seems like being early to your appointment would be a good thing, but there are so many people who all have very specific appointment times, that all being early does is clog the system and create a longer wait time for everyone. Also, it should go without saying, but don’t be late. It has the same effects as being early, but they also might not let you in. There is a Starbucks right next door. I would suggest being early, waiting there, and going into the office at the time of your appointment.

 

 

  • Be Patient

 

At my appointment, I got through both steps (first they take your passport and documents, then you wait to be fingerprinted, and then you wait to get your passport back and are done) within an hour and a half. I thought I’d get lucky and be done within two hours instead of the six hours that it took for some of my friends, but instead I waited almost another three hours just to get my passport back. It’s incredibly difficult to wait for that long, but it takes so much pressure off when the appointment is over.

 

 

  • Bring something to do while you wait

 

The INIS office has horrible service and no wifi, so I’d suggest bringing a book or downloading shows on your phone. It can be an excruciating few hours if you’re stuck with nothing to do.

02/20/2018

Navigating the First Month of the Irish School System

By Katie King

 

Back home, I know my schedule for the next term before upcoming final exams even appear on my radar. I research what professors are teaching which sections, how much work each class will be and how many books I’ll have to buy for the upcoming quarter. I can craft a schedule where classes don’t start before noon and having class on a Friday is unheard of. I’m able to plan my school, work and social life with ease from the comfort of my bed.

 

This was not the case in Ireland.

 

I received numerous emails in the months of October and November about which classes would be available for international students for the next semester. I scoured the lists trying to figure out 1) which classes I needed to fulfill certain requirements for my degree and 2) if any of these classes would be interesting to me. I found about ten courses that fit the bill, submitted them to my study abroad application and thought “alright, they’ll have the perfect schedule waiting for me once I get there”.

 

On about the third day of orientation, still jet-lagged and sleep deprived from the 8-hour time difference, we were finally doing scheduling. I sat in the classroom with all of my fellow American students hoping that the classes I wanted would appear on my schedule. I was handed a sheet of paper stating that I was registered for four courses. Thankfully, they were all classes that I needed for my degree back home. I was filled with relief until our directors said this was the tricky part. Even though we were registered for said courses, we might not be able to take all of them.

 

Irish students are given their schedules for the coming term a few days before the term starts. They don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts or whether or not they’re getting into the right modules for the semester. Since it was up to us, we had to figure which classes worked in a schedule. It sounds easier than it actually was because DCU does not use an application like “Schedule Builder”. I had to go back and forth between the timetables to make sure everything aligned.

 

Some classes are only once a week and the student gets to choose what lecture or discussion they prefer to go to and some classes occur multiple times a week and it is up to the lecturer (they don’t call them professors in the Irish school system) to decide how they set up their classes. Further, class times are subject to change throughout the first two weeks of the semester, meaning you might have to re-do your schedule after you’ve already been in classes for two weeks.

 

These challenges shouldn’t deter you from studying abroad. Learning about the Irish school system was first intercultural challenge that I had to conquer during my time here. It seemed daunting at the time, but now a month in to the school year, I can barely remember why I was so stressed out about it. The CIEE team was always available help solve problems and advocate for us on any issues we had. Studying in another country is going to be full of challenges wherever you go but at the end of the day, we all go abroad to experience new cultures and ways of living, and overcoming cultural challenges such as building a new schedule makes us more adaptable and gives us confidence to overcome any cultural challenges we might face throughout the rest of our travels.

11/30/2017

‘Tis the Season for New Traditions

‘Tis the Season for New Traditions

 

There’s something about the beginning of November, a certain magic to it...I’m walking  beside Albert College Park (a beautiful park right beside campus), Americano in hand, Sundara Karma in my ears, and a crisp breeze on my face. This Southern California gal withers in those crisp breezes however, so I pull out my scarf that is always on reserve. As I ride the bus bound for DCU’s St. Patrick’s Campus, I’m welcomed by falling leaves of all colors in the neighborhood. Such reminders cue memories of home and passing the ketchup at Thanksgiving dinner. I can smell the Turkey in the oven and hear the laughter as my Aunt Susie demolishes everyone at the card game of Rummy. I remember the “Friendsgiving” gatherings I’ve had with friends back home, scrambling to cook something decent to contribute and experimenting with a mulled cider that may or may not have had rum in it. I leave the bus for class, I’m late as usual, and now I’m incredibly homesick. I realize that I won’t be home to help put up Christmas ornaments or pick out the tree. I can’t dust off the Christmas DVD collection the day after Thanksgiving while nursing my food hangover. I can’t begin placing my wrapped presents underneath the tree a few weeks early and laugh at my cat attempting to tear down every low-hanging ornament. While I’m busy hosting my own holiday-themed pity party on the walk to class, I receive a reminder on my phone for the Friendsgiving Party taking place in a couple of weeks and a very large smile appeared on my face because I knew...the food coma is BACK.

 

Feeling homesick for the holidays is normal, in fact, a little to be expected. Homesickness itself is a longing for the familiar and the traditional in times of the complete opposite. Studying abroad or traveling away from home during the holiday season can result in feelings of disconnect or “missing out” (I believe the current colloquial term is “FOMO” or fear of missing out). Luckily, all it takes to turn what could be a negative holiday experience into a positive one is a little proactive thinking!

 

Below are some tips for having a happy holiday season during your time abroad.

 

  • Rally the Troops. One of my favorite things to do for any holiday is having a party or “social gathering: with friends. Just because the old faithfuls are back home does not mean you cannot celebrate the same way with new friends! In fact, sharing your holiday traditions is a fun way to become closer with your new expat buddies. Coordinate a “Friendsgiving” potluck or a Secret Santa Gift Exchange. Invite international friends too! They can bring some new dishes and traditions of their own.
  • Get Crafty. So you’re low on funds but want to feel the same festivity you normally experience at home. Head over to the local discount shops (Dealz or EuroDollar) or craft stores and get creative! Making decorations at home can be a fun way to share the holidays with your flatmates and spruce the place up a bit.
  • Celebrate Local. Do a little digging and see what is available nearby. Some restaurants and Pubs in Dublin offer a holiday menu, including a Thanksgiving Turkey Meal. Venues may be offering special events like concerts and ceremonies. Make sure not to miss the Christmas Lighting Ceremony on O’Connel Street in late November! Ask your CIEE advisors and local friends about celebrating like a local and give it a try! After all, studying abroad is about new experiences.
  • Phone home (a little). If you’re missing the festivities at home or want to remain up to date on the family gatherings, consider calling home a little bit to say “hello!” Do your best to not hole up in your room for hours doing this though because you may miss out on the fun happening around you!
  • Share your thoughts. Homesickness throughout the holidays is a normal part of studying abroad and I guarantee that you are not the only one. Express your feelings with a friend or advisor and share stories about what you miss from back home. You may even find yourselves laughing at funny stories and learning more about each other along the way!

 

Celebrating the holidays abroad is a unique experience that paves way for dynamic personal growth. Take it in stride and embrace new traditions. Who knows, maybe you’ll bring many of them home!

 

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Photo featuring my friends and I at our “Friendsgiving” celebration.

11/23/2017

Irish Caving Or Just "Subterranean Swimming"

Irish Caving

Or Just “Subterranean Swimming”

Caving 1

My big adventure this week was a caving trip with the DCU caving club in County Claire (Western coast of Ireland). I have very few pictures from this weekend trip due to how incredibly flooded the caves were. All I can say was that nothing I could have heard before this trip could have prepared me for how intense the experience was. The club leaders said that we were going on a "Freshers Trip" and that we would not be using ropes in the caves, we would only be walking in a largely horizontal manner. I sort of took this to mean that our trip would be sort of boring and introductory. I couldn't have been more wrong. From the very beginning of my first cave, we had to walk through a waterfall to enter, and after that, things got steadily more and more wet. From walking downstream, to crawling neck-deep upstream, and climbing up waterfalls, I had no idea that by the end of the trip, no surface of my body would be dry.

  Caving 2

Above is a picture of what a typical evening of training looks like for the caving club that I am part of.  We practice twice a week for 3 hours, so by the time we all leave we are rather exhausted and sometimes go out together to grab something to eat.  The gear that we are all using in that photo is the same gear that we use in the caves so it is good practice to get used to it with safety mats underneath of us before heading out into real, dangerous caves.

 

Caving 3

We arrived at the cottage where we would be staying for the next two nights very late Friday evening, long after the sun had gone down, so I really didn’t have any idea where I was until the next morning.  When I woke up, I walked over to the window and this is the sight that I was greeted with.

Caving 4

This, unfortunately, is the only photo I got of the cave with my camera, due to my lack of having a waterproof case.  Though, it is possible to get a little notion of just how wet the whole endeavor was, from this picture.  All the rain on the trees, the waterfall (barely visible toward the back of the hole), and the mud outside of the entrance all flowed down into the narrow opening.  After entering through the waterfall, we trekked a few kilometers down the cave as water rushed all around our feet.  The two veterans of our group of five said that they had never seen it so incredibly wet down there, but it made many subterranean waterfalls along the way look absolutely gorgeous.  After we got as far down as we could safely go with all the water trying to pull us deeper, we had to turn around and crawl back out.  This involved climbing up waterfalls, squeezing through ravines so narrow that it was impossible to turn one’s head to look back, and crawling under fallen boulders that forced anyone left dry to fully submerge their body in the river.

Caving 5 Caving 6

These are just a couple of shots of us post-cave.  I found out the hard way the caving is certainly not a sport for the faint of heart, but I am really glad of that.  I found that I fell in love with the challenge of it.

11/15/2017

Hiking Glendalough

Erik Finley

CIEE Dublin

Monasteries, Mountains, and Mines: Hiking Glendalough

Glendalough 1

A Spectacular Glacial Valley Amidst the Wicklow Mountains

My latest weekend adventure was a trip to Glendalough Lake, about an hour’s drive south of Dublin, with the DCU Rock Climbing Club.  Unfortunately for us, the weather was a little too wet for any climbing on Saturday, but it didn’t stop us from going on a beautiful hike the following Sunday.

Glendalough 2

The view outside of our cottage

 

Monasteries

One of the first things we passed on our hike was a round tower from the historical monastic site of the Glendalough valley. 

Glendalough 3

This tower is thought to have been a bell tower for the medieval monastery in the valley founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century.

Mountains

As we ventured further into the valley, next to the lake, the trail became more and more serene. Our group first found ourselves in a lush pine forest with the sun peeking through onto the trail ahead of us.

Glendalough 4

 

After a while of strolling through the trees, the forest opened up and we got a taste of the incredible view still ahead of us. On the far side of the valley was a waterfall that looks small in the pictures, as it is still very far away.

Glendalough 5 Glendalough 6 Glendalough 7




Mines

Walking further down the path toward the waterfall, we came to the Glendalough Mining village, founded in the 1790s.  This encampment was set up to mine lead, zinc, and silver from the mountains and thrived in the truly desolate landscape up until it was closed in 1957. All that remains now are some crumbling structures and an iron or steel grinding mill.

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Glendalough 11


Looking around the now deserted village made me consider what it must have been like to live there in the 1800's.  It was windy, cold, and desolate, but a certain peacefulness and tranquility could also be felt.  I am really enjoying my weekend adventures here in Ireland and even with the rainy weather, this was no exception.  I would recommend hiking Glendalough to anyone considering visiting the Dublin area.

11/08/2017

Transforming Homesickness into a New Home

Transforming Homesickness into a New Home

 

Wednesday afternoon: I finish my lecture session and walk back to my apartment, fellow expats beside me. We chat about our upcoming plans visiting new countries and areas within Ireland. The conversation has a zing as we share our excitement of exploration. The door closes behind me and silence of my room began to feel louder than the conversation. My phone is silent; no texts from my friends or family back home in California. I check Instagram, which reveals that my friends were out hitting the town back home and my mother is was busy treating my family to dinner. They’re over there and I’m over here, alone.

Suddenly I realize, I’m not alone and I have so many methods to turn this experience into a positive one so I make some hot chocolate, text my best friend, put on the fuzzy socks, and pick up the book I’ve been wanting read for the last year, but never had time for…

 

Prior to embarking on our journey to Ireland, my cohort and I were presented with a graph detailing the “typical” experience during a semester or year abroad (shown below). We were told that we would go through a wave of emotions, beginning with a sort of euphoria upon initial arrival. Everything is exciting and interesting! New beers, new food, new friends, new smells and sights...Ireland is a new land to explore that is just excited to meet us. We were warned that as this “honeymoon” phase wore off, we would enter the homesickness phase. A time when all the new sights and smells felt not as comforting as those back home. We would miss the mundane and the routine, including ranch dressing for our fries and the fact that our produce lasted more than a few days in the fridge. After some time coping, we were then told that we would slowly rise out of the hole and fall in love with out new home.

 

Picture 1

 

The simplicity of a graph does not explain everything, of course. Each individual living away from home has their own unique experiences. The intersectional elements of each individual’s identity determines the outcomes. For example, those who are accustomed to more distance and infrequent communication with family could thrive living away from home, whereas others, such as myself, who are more accustomed to frequent contact could need time to adjust.

The experience of studying abroad is not only one of outward exploration, but personal development as well. During our time away, we are increasing our self-sufficiency and confidence, learning about our needs and necessities in order to maintain happiness, and broadening perspectives as we engage with multiple cultures. Combating homesickness is just one of the challenges presented to many away from home and it serves as a crucial part of self-growth.

 

Here are a few general tips to ease the experience of homesickness abroad

 

 

1.   Maintain Routine

 

Identify rituals in your daily life and remember to pack them next to the socks. If you needed that morning workout to kick-start your day at home, bring it with you! Consider seeking a gym membership (CIEE Dublin Students have a membership to the gym at DCU) or downloading a helpful phone app for direction. Did you talk about your day over dinner with your roommates? Try proposing this tradition to your new roommates, jotting down your thoughts in a journal, or sending a recap to a friend back home. Maintaining routine is crucial to maintain normalcy while abroad and is easy to implement. For more complex habits, consider adjusting them. If you always played the trumpet before bed, maybe help your roommates out and play before lunch or with a jazz group.

 

 

2.   Maintain Contact with a Support Network

 

Although home is far away and time differences make communication difficult, arranging for some form of regular contact back home can be incredibly beneficial. Consider asking a few of the people that make you happiest if they are up to talking every once and awhile. Contact does not have to be a large undertaking either! Send a picture of something that reminds you of them or a quick text during the day. Arrange for a phone call when it works out and hear about their days just as much as they hear about yours. If ever you feel disconnected from home, don’t be afraid to reach out to your support network and maybe bring back a little souvenir for them.

 

 

3.   Indulge in the Creature Comforts

 

Studying abroad can be expensive and every penny saved for another excursion, however, a few of the comforting things should be considered an investment. Identify which areas of your life require lower maintenance and which require higher. For instance, I’m not one to need several different outfits, therefore, I avoid purchasing too many new clothes. I am, however, a little higher maintenance in the body-care and coffee departments so I have allowed myself to buy a new face mask, some essential oils, lotion, a French press, and some high-end coffee. Save money in the areas less attended to and invest (within reason) in the areas that are important to your happiness.

 

 

4.   Establish a Sanctuary

 

Back home, you likely have posters on the walls, a music player, television, candles burning, and whatever else makes home feel like home. These elements can also be used to make a new home away from home. Consider packing a few small items that make you happy to put up around your new room and seeking out some low-cost or disposable decor to arrange. These could include hand-made drawings (which is a great form of meditation by the way), interesting postcards or pictures from different sites, fresh flowers, a cool cup from Dealz, or a few souvenirs your find along the way. Make your room your sanctuary where everything on the corkboard makes you smile (so maybe no homework pinned up there.) The second aspect to this is to take care of your sanctuary. It has been long told that a messy space can create a messy mind or vice-versa. Try your best to keep things tidy and take out the trash so that your space is a place of rest rather than stress.

 

 

5.   Find your Niche

 

In this case, niche not only refers to a place of belonging, but people as well. It takes time to make friends and develop social circles, for some longer than others, but remain open to possibilities and challenge your comfort zone a little. Introducing yourself to strangers and signing up for a few societies could be the doorway to new friendships and potentially, a crew to adventure with. Getting to know your fellow cohort is also a wonderful first step to making new friends and developing a supportive circle, however, do not limit yourself to fellow Americans or International Students. Get to know some locals! This being said, recognize what serves you and how to utilize social practices to your benefit. Introverted individuals are those that gain energy by having some alone time in order to later socialize to their fullest. Extroverted individuals gain their energy from the presence of others and therefore desire minimal alone time and need social interaction to thrive. Recognize where you draw your energies from and honor those needs so that you can function your best. (P.S. If you are on the introverted side, like me, remember that it is OK to stay in when everyone goes out to the pub, however beware only making friends with yourself and make sure to get out when you can!)

 

 

6.   It’s OK to Feel Homesick

 

If you notice feelings of homesickness, do not beat yourself. It is normal and healthy to miss home. Consider expressing these feelings in a healthy way by increasing self-care, contact with the support network, or talking to a fellow study abroad student. You are not the only one to long for home and will likely find that every student studying abroad feels it in different ways and degrees. Give yourself permission to treat yourself extra special when these feelings come up and do your best to not bury them underneath more travel plans. Do not push feelings aside, because they will return in fuller force. If harmful thoughts or behaviors begin to occur, speak with a professional or your onsite program advisors. Healthy and happy memories are the most important souvenir!

10/11/2017

Step Back 5000 Years in Time Part 2

This week in the CIEE Blog we’re catching up on the second half of Erik Finley’s trip to Newgrange…

 

Newgrange Tomb


Our second stop was the Newgrange tomb.  Newgrange is different in the respect that it doesn’t appear to have been inhabited since the time of its construction around 3000 B.C.  However, Newgrange was discovered in 1699, compared to Knowth’s discovery in 1962, and was not protected by the federal government until 1882.  

This means that inside of the tomb there is some interesting 18th and 19th century graffiti.  Unfortunately this also means that the stone basin in the heart of the central chamber was shattered.  Luckily, that is the only human interference inside the tomb.  The boulders used as walls and the rock plates holding up the ceiling remain exactly the way they were placed by the Neolithics 5000 years ago.  

The central chamber and tunnel leading to it were absolutely awe-inspiring, as visitors were allowed to walk all the way into the tomb, seeing ancient architecture firsthand.  Unfortunately, photography was prohibited inside the tomb, so I was unable to get any pictures within the tomb.  There are plenty of pictures taken by professional photographers online, and I would encourage anyone interested in the tomb to just search “Newgrange tomb” on Google.  

Newgrange 1 Newgrange 2

The most astonishing part of Newgrange is that every December, during the winter solstice, the sun is lined up perfectly with the entrance to the tomb, creating a single beam of light penetrating the chamber and leading directly to the stone basin of ashes.

 Newgrange 3

As breathtaking as the inside of the tomb is, the outside is pretty amazing too.  The outer decoration of the mound was restored by archeologist, Michael J. O'Kelly in the 1960s and 1970s.  Kelly believed that the quartz rock found around the entrance of the tomb was of great importance in the process of moving on to the afterworld.  

The quartz found at the tomb was thought to have been carried over fifty kilometers to the construction site.  Below are some pictures of the Entrance to the tomb and the quartz layer surrounding it. Lastly, I just want to share a couple more images of decorative stones surrounding the base of Newgrange.

Newgrange 4 Newgrange 5

It seems amazing to me that a civilization of people that are often, in the modern light, looked upon as savage and unintelligent could achieve such a feat.  Five millennia after its creation, Newgrange continues to guide that beam of light to the heart of its central tomb, shining on that pedestal every single year, without fail.

 

 

10/06/2017

Step Back 5000 Years in Time

Step Back 5000 Years in Time

Fall 2017 Student, Erik Finley explores the tombs

 of Newgrange and Knowth – and the anciety history buried there. 

First Picture

Over the past weekend some friends and I had the amazing opportunity to visit Brú na Bóinne, a historical site in Meath, Ireland which is home to many different Neolithic structures and ruins.  Among these henges, mounds, ruins, and temples are the Knowth and Newgrange tombs.  These tombs were of particular priority to me based on the simple fact that they are estimated to have been created 5000 years ago.  That is 1000 years older than Stonehenge and 500 years older than The Pyramids of Giza.

Knowth Tomb Our first stop in Brú na Bóinne was the Stone Age passage tomb, Knowth, but before we made it even that far, there was some stunning countryside that we discovered.  

Second Picture Long On Left Side Third Picture Top Right of Second Picture Fourth Picture Below Third Picture



When did arrive at the tomb, what we found seemed surreal, but not quite what I would expect a temple to look like.  In the center of the clearing was one, giant mound of earth covered by grass.  Surrounding it were several smaller mounds of dirt covered in grass.  

These mounds were called “satellite tombs” because of how they were laid out in orbit around the central tomb.  Our tour guide informed us that the central tomb is thought to have been used as a passage tomb.  That is to say, the ashes of civilizations were placed in the tomb first thing after death but only temporarily.  After a certain amount of time, ashes would be gathered from the central tomb and deposited in the surrounding satellite tombs to remain permanently.

Fifth Picture Left Side Sixth Picture Right Side

Getting closer, artwork on the side of rocks at the base of the largest tomb became visible.  We were later told that two-thirds of all known Neolithic (Stone Age) artwork in the entire world resides in Brú na Bóinne! The other really interesting thing about these goliath masterpieces is that the particular type of stone used by artisans so many years ago cannot be found in the surrounding area for hundreds of kilometers.  Historians believe that the stones were shipped down the coastline and up rivers leading to Brú na Bóinne on large rafts and from there, rolled over the land and up the hills using logs.

Seventh Picture Top Left Eighth Picture Below Seventh Ninth Picture Top Right Next to Seventh Tenth Picture Below Ninth


Inside the tomb are many small tunnels.  The original tunnels lead to the two main chambers, used as portals to the afterlife.  However, more tunnels were dug throughout the millennia by inhabitants of the mound in the Iron Age, the Early Christian Era, and the Norman Era.

Eleventh Picture Left Side 12th Picture Middle 13th Picture Right

The first two pictures of tunnels located above are tunnels built by the Neolithics leading to and from the central chamber.  The picture on the far right is an escape tunnel, dug in the Early Christian Era for monks to hide in during Viking raids.  There were many other clues that the Neolithics were not the only inhabitants of Knowth.  Pictured below on the left is a Iron Age cooler, which can be assumed was used for keeping food fresh.  In the center is the remains of a Early Christian Era keyhole oven used to make bread.  On the right is the foundation of a Norman house.

14th Picture Left 15th Picture Middle 16th Picture Right

Our tour of Knowth ended with the opportunity to walk up the stairs on the backside of the tomb and look out across the beautiful Irish horizon.

Erik’s trip to Newgrange and Knowth will be continued in our next blog post, stay tuned!