The Parting Glass

“Of all the money that e’er I had
I have spent it in good company
Oh and all the harm I’ve ever done
Alas, it was to none but me

And all I’ve done for want of wit
To memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be to you all

So fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befalls
Then gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all”

– “The Parting Glass” by the High Kings

Dear Reader:

Given that this is the last blog post, it is also the one you are most likely to have come across. It’s also more likely that you are someone I don’t know, whether that means you’re an alumni checking to see how the program is doing or a prospective applicant trying to gain perspective into whether the Mitchell is right for you.

To best serve you, I’ve structured this entry to answer the two generalized questions I’ve been asked the most about this experience: How the Mitchell has benefitted me, and what I recommend people do if they find themselves in Belfast.

Why the Mitchell Matters

Ireland is a small country. Geographically, it is roughly the size of Indiana with an economy roughly the size of Michigan’s. The advantages and limitations of these realities have been on the minds of Irish leaders since the rising and continue to shape virtually every aspect of Ireland’s international relations. Where Ireland lacks hard power, their soft power remains arguably unrivaled in the United States. It is difficult to think of another country of comparable size that enjoys such disproportionate investment and positive sentiment within the United States.

This makes Ireland an ideal place for a young American to spend a year abroad. The ongoing relevance of economic ties between our countries, the historical connections between them, and the raft of enduring policy challenges facing us offer an avenue for any thoughtful student to establish a new point of reference during their time here that will inevitably have professional and intellectual benefits for years to come.

Despite this, there are good arguments to be made that Ireland is declining in importance for American voters and policymakers just as Ireland’s economic dependence on the United States nears an inflection point. This presents a challenge for the Irish, and while the Mitchell scholarship is not a silver bullet for any of the trends referenced above, it remains a smart investment for all parties involved.

It may seem that 12 American students who come to the island every year cannot feasibly produce a significant long-term effect. I would argue (as is elaborated in more detail in this report) that for better or worse, American policy change is ultimately driven largely by small groups of well-connected and highly motivated actors. When it comes to Irish issues, the importance of the “Irish vote” has likely been exaggerated, while the importance of current politicians like Rep. Richard Neale and Rep. Brendan Boyle are comparatively understated.

With that in mind, it is in Ireland’s interest to cultivate ties early on with new generations of Americans who could very well wind up in positions of influence in science, the arts, business, and policy. For the students the Mitchell scholarship selects, we get the chance to actually make a difference via these ties. There are plenty of countries whose size or strategic importance make similar programs less cost effective. For example, the UK has long since overcome its lack of diaspora politics in the US, and will continue to be among America’s most important relationships regardless of any foreseeable circumstance. These conditions are not givens in the US-Ireland relationship, and the Mitchell allows scholars the opportunity to make an outsized impact during their time on the island as well as when they come home as a result.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the interpersonal benefits of the program. Throughout my time here, two of my fellow Mitchells (Sarah and Asha) and an almost-honorary Mitchell (Ellie) have all become invaluable friends who I likely would not have crossed paths with outside of this program. Higher education remains one of the most common ways that young Americans encounter people with fundamentally different backgrounds and beliefs from them. Placing us all in a foreign country helps to lower some of the defenses we build up at home, and I will be lucky to leave the island with life-long friends as a result.

With those musings out of the way, I hope I’ve convinced you to give the Mitchell (or just Ireland) a shot. If you wind up in Belfast, here’s a quick list of what I recommend:

Food & Drink

  • Sakura is a sushi stop that has seen me at my highest and my lowest (usually my lowest) during my time here, and has a conveyor belt system that makes for great casual dining.
  • Holohan’s Pantry is creative Irish cuisine served in a comfortable and local atmosphere.
  • Madam Pho is a lifesaver during cold winter nights.
  • Shu is good for a fancier night out.
  • Flame is unbeatable for weekend people watching (bring a friend and ask for a seat by the window).
  • Bert’s Jazz Bar is where I go when I am at my lowest and Sakura isn’t enough to bring me back up.
  • Margot’s is a speakeasy with a creative cocktail list that usually flies under the radar for visitors.


  • The Ulster Museum is a short walk from Queen’s campus and makes for a good afternoon out (I’m sorry Asha)
  • Let’s Go Hydro is a hybrid waterpark/obstacle course that is hilarious to do with your less coordinated friends (I’m sorry Ellie)
  • Tribe Boxing is a good workout if you’re willing to sacrifice your commitment to nonviolence at the altar of cardiovascular gains (I’m sorry Sarah)
  • Mick Cage at Belfast Blackworks is an incredible tattoo artist who can transform even the tackiest study abroad tattoo ideas into layered and complex works of art in case you decide to spend part of your stipend this way (I’m sorry Trina)

That’s all from me folks. Goodnight, and joy be to you all.

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