This week, the Damsels are posting on other time periods we’d like to write in once we’ve finished our current works in progress. We thought it would be a nice break from thinking of Emilie as the World War II guru, Tricia as the Victorian buff, and Jennifer as our resident expert on New England in the early 1800s.
Since it was my idea, I’ll start.
Around this time five years ago, I made a chart of the expenses for finishing college through each of two routes. One included a regular senior year, graduating on time in May 2006. The other pushed graduation up a semester to December 2005 so I could go on a summer study abroad trip to Galway, Ireland. The two columns came out roughly even, especially if I got a job for the rest of my junior year (which I did). My parents couldn’t argue with the numbers in black and white, so I got my trip.
First stop on the itinerary was London, to visit my life-long best friend who was doing her own summer study abroad. We went to the Imperial War Museum and saw an exhibit on how World War II affected the children of England. Still working on the three books that inspired…
But while I love London, with its rich heritage and knack for blending the old and the new so seemlessly, Ireland was something else altogether. It was truly magical. Five years later, I can’t stop looking at the 300+ pictures I took of its rocky green beauty. Castle ruins abounded, so much so that after a few weeks of criss-crossing the island by bus, I hardly noticed them.
Just as much as the landscape, the sad history of this gorgeous island has gripped me since my short five-week stay. As my literature professor put it, Ireland has been invaded by just about everybody but has invaded nobody in return. The Irish story is a story of a potato famine that wiped out a quarter of their population, bitter religious and cultural struggles, and harsh sea cliffs that have claimed the lives of countless men. Even though most of the island, including Galway, has been independent from Britain since the 1920s, there is still the faintest hint of a people who have known oppression…and still believe in fairies and luck.
My next historical project, after I’ve recovered from the Midwest of the 1940s, will be to capture the struggle for Irish independence in the 1910s and ’20s. Perhaps I’ll set it during the Easter Rising of 1916, when Irish rebels took over major locations in Dublin such the post office, leaving bullet holes I touched with my own hands (and then snapped this picture). I don’t know the details, but I do know that I want very much to return to Ireland, physically and in my dreams.