January 2010 Reflection

Emerald memories flit across my mind as I begin to travel back to Dublin. It is winter break. As I watch the snowy New England woods and frozen marshes speed by my train window, I find it hard to believe that my time in Ireland is one third over. Where has it all gone?


“We missed our chance!” Neil said.

“No. It’s ok. It’s ok, I countered. Let’s just quickly circle left and look for an opening.”

“Maybe we can creep in a little closer? Sarang offered.

“Good idea, but we need to make sure we box out these people on the left,” said Neil. “They look like they are going for it too.”

“Ok,” we said in unison.

Then we saw it: an opportunity! Go, go, go!

When the dust cleared, we had won the day, or least something that made my day: a few words with Seamus Heaney, Ireland’s acclaimed Nobel Laureate poet. Trina Vargo had told Neil, Sarang, and I to say hello Mr. Heaney if we went to his talk for the Irish Human Rights Council. So it was out of a wish to fulfill Trina’s request (or perhaps out of fear of displeasing her? haha) that we braved the sea of full wine glasses and raised spirits in the shadow of priceless art at the National Gallery reception. Although our own glasses were empty by the time we reached Mr. Heaney, they were soon filled with the kind smiles and laughter of his greeting: “Ah, Trina’s Mitchell Scholars; pleased to meet you.”


I am now at Logan Airport in Boston waiting to board my flight on Aer Lingus. I laugh softly to myself as I wonder what security will make of the plastic tub, hydrometer, airlock, thermometer, bottle capper, and fifty feet of coiled copper tubing that is in my checked bag. Nothing scandalous. Just some beer brewing equipment for the nascent Dublin University Brewing Society (DUBS) that a few friends and I are trying to start at Trinity. I am going before the Central Societies Committee tomorrow to make the pitch as to why DUBS would make Trinity a better place. We are already deep in the bureaucratic rabbit hole: a drafted (draughted?) brewing constitution and one hundred names, student IDs, and signatures showing support.

When I dropped off the constitution for consideration, one of the administrators complimented me on making a beer club sound remarkably philanthropic. I will let you decide:

The proposed brewing society would aim to acquaint members with the science and history behind the art of beer brewing. Members of the society would brew beer of a variety of historical and modern styles, taking the beer all the way from grain through mashing, fermentation and finally to bottle. Beer tasting workshops of the end products would also be held in order to promote a robust social dimension to the society.

I am excited to acquaint the Irish with the great American tradition of closet beer brewing!


“You have been a Trinity student for three years and you have never seen the old library?” I asked Bryony, a student in my MSc program. “That is just unacceptable. We are going there right now to remedy the travesty.”

In we went, past security and ticket booths, past the book of Durrow and the book of Kells. Suddenly, the wall opened up. I ran my eyes over the high wooden ribs that arched into the ceiling of the Trinity College Long Room like an inverted tall ship’s hull. On my left and right were Socrates and Demosthenes, stony guardians of the dusty tomes lining wall after wall. Up ahead, my friends Cicero and Bishop Berkeley silently welcomed me back. I imagined what the room would have been like back in the day when the shades – now drawn to protect the delicate parchment from the sun – were pulled back and the room undulated in rays of shadow. I could feel the ancient bustle of a scholar ascending the spindle-like spiral stair over my left shoulder.

“This is a library,” I said softly.


Now back in Dublin, I hear the rich intermingling of Cork and south Dublin accents on the street. As I sit here writing this sentence, Leinster House is to my left, the National Gallery behind my back, and the Long Room at my right hand. As I turn my head to the front, I realize that I am home. I hope I will find the time to live it thoroughly.


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