Beginnings + Endings

As classes wound down in April, it felt like things were speeding up. One of the main benefits of my Mitchell year has been my proximity to all of the medieval material I’ve studied in Ireland and around Europe, and spending less time in class allowed me to get out and see things I’d pored over online or in textbooks. After presenting a paper at the University of Oxford’s annual postgraduate conference, I spent a few days at the British Museum and British Library, which brought the past year full circle: at the museum, I saw the moai Hoa Hakananai’a, which I’d studied alongside Rapa Nui high schoolers before arriving in Ireland, and at the library, I was able to see some of the collection’s famous Insular manuscripts before meeting with its curator, who happens to be a member of my sorority. As I set off for Palermo in a couple of days to work on my dissertation research, I’m grateful to have the rest of the summer to visit places with such resources in addition to exploring Ireland.

I spent my study week in Galway with Carla, where we enjoyed the city’s festivals for food and theatre, and I toured the Burren, Connemara, and Inishmore. Chris and I took a day trip to Waterford, which is of course known for its crystal… but should receive equal attention for its collection of late medieval vestments! Killarney and Abbeyfeale are the priorities among the places I have left to see, as that’s where some of my great-great-grandparents, the Dillons and O’Sheas, left when they set off for the United States.

Back in Dublin, I was able to see “Waiting for Godot” at the Abbey with Byron and Megan, thus accomplishing one of my major Mitchell year goals (all thanks to Bill Shipsey!). The experience was made all the more memorable because we ran into Nick Johnson, a 2005 Mitchell scholar/fellow Northwestern alumnus/Trinity drama professor, after the play. In addition to receiving a short lesson on Beckett, the conversation helped me reflect on my year and all that I have left to do, like observing Bloomsday on June 16, among other things. In the meantime, I’ve had a few more meetings with the Undergraduate Awards team and their board, discussing different ways to encourage student involvement in the awards and their travel to Ireland. They connected me with Trinity’s international marketing team, and though we laughed that we were only just meeting at the end of the academic year, it was an ideal time to recollect my experiences here, and remember what brought me to Dublin in the first place. Luckily, I should have plenty of opportunities to stay connected to Trinity long after I leave Ireland, thanks to their new joint degree program with Columbia University, where I’ll begin my PhD this September.

In between moments like these, I’ve valued the quieter times spent in my room on campus, as I prepared to present my dissertation or got to know my floormates a little better before they moved out at the end of the term. While most of our interactions throughout the year consisted of small talk in the kitchen between classes or assignments, we bonded a bit more as the semester slowed down, and I’ll be happy to have familiar faces nearby (and a place to stay!) when I return for graduation.

I’ll end with some photos of Inishmore, the newest addition to my list of favorite places. (Also pictured: some of the best weather I’ve ever experienced in Ireland.)

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