My Ireland Expectations:
The very first city that we visited in Ireland was Belfast. Rich in history of the Troubled Times of Ireland and English colonial conquest, I knew Belfast would be an amazing experience. Before arriving to Belfast, I had done some background research on the Troubled Times and the split between the Protestant and Catholic parts of the city. Having Irish Catholic ancestry, I was very excited to learn more about this very difficult time in Ireland’s history. I was surprised to discover just how much this awful time had affected the lives of the average citizen of Belfast. Living in a country such as the United States, where major cultural issues sometimes do not affect the masses the way they would in smaller countries, like Ireland, I interesting to learn how everyone was affected during this time. My experience in Belfast made me realize just how fortunate we are to live in a country where freedom for religion is something we are guaranteed.
Knowing that Derry is one of the only walled cities in all of Europe, I expected that entering this city would be like taking a step into history. I expected that Derry would be the type of city that history majors, like myself, dream of visiting; rich in culture, stories, and history. While walking the Walls of Derry, my expectations became a reality. Walking the cobblestone path, gazing over the edge of the wall down into the Republic, and interacting with the locals made the history of this glorious city come to life. Probably the best memory I have or Derry was an interaction that I had with a man in downtown Derry. In the approximately thirty minute conversation that I had with this man, everything that we had learned and discussed in class prior to leaving for Ireland was thrust upon me. From his families’ hatred for the British rule of Northern Ireland, to his love for Celtic music, this man, for me, was Ireland.
Heading into Dublin, my expectations were that I would be heading into your average large city. I expected to find very crowded streets, buzzing with people. Having been to large international cities such as Toronto and New York City, I was prepared for a similar experience. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived in Dublin that my expectations were wrong. Despite being the larger city, I found it to be very relaxed. Walking the streets, one did not get that anxious feeling that is generally associated with cities such as New York. The people were also very pleasant, always very courteous to the people around them. A moment that stands out of this courtesy was at the Confession Box pub, a very historic establishment in Dublin. It seemed as if the people we had met there, we had known for years due to how open and accepting they were. It should be noted that the parts of Dublin that were explored were generally considered the tourist areas and the people we came into contact with were probably on vacation as well. Despite this, our Dublin experience was the most meaningful for me.