Fáilte go Glas Naíon - Welcome to Glasnevin

Sam Wherley
June 12, 2022

Signs reading like the title of this post are the reason why, in my extensive walking around Dublin so far (perhaps excessive, even, but I find it’s the best way to get to know a new city), I have carried in my pocket a little red notebook that I’ve begun to fill with scribblings that might just prove the observation attributed to John Adams about handwriting. The substance of these scrawlings is taken from the street signs and other writing found all over the city that is presented both in Irish and in English; Dublin has been serving as something of an immersive dictionary as I continue to work at expanding my Irish language vocabulary. While I’ve always got my eyes peeled for new and interesting words to note in the book, there are so many other things vying for my attention. Happily, one of the most interesting such things I have found so far is the place where I have been working. 

I have been interning (not interring, thankfully) at Glasnevin Cemetery, working in the visitor center/museum there. From Daniel O’Connell (whose company I share daily while giving tours of his crypt and telling his life story) to Michael Collins, and with countless others in between, Glasnevin’s ~1.6 million dead outnumber Dublin’s population and include loads of names of great significance to Irish history. Through learning about these figures, I have been eagerly expanding my knowledge of events like the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, and the Civil War as well as the political and cultural(/linguistic) movements that preceded, contributed to, and rose from those events. To read about and walk daily among so many people who were instrumental to the formation of Ireland as we know it is nothing short of fascinating, and it feeds readily into my academic interest in state building and nationhood. As lovely as it has been spending time around so many interesting dead people, getting to know the living ones at Glasnevin has been a lot of fun as well. 

My colleagues are even more interested in the history than I am, and I have a lot to learn from them. Most of them are not much older than me, and their sense of humor and propensity to chat is balanced by a deep dedication to the work that creates an enjoyable and educational environment. The relative informality in no way diminishes the quality of the work accomplished. That seems to be reflective of a general trend here in Dublin so far as I can tell – simply put, people are more personable, and less import seems to be placed on the rituals of formality that can so easily get in the way of genuine, pleasant, meaningful interaction. It is, of course, entirely possible that this observation is just the result of what I happen to have experienced so far, but I suspect it is generalizable at least to some degree. 

Whatever the case, these first few weeks in Dublin have been loads of fun. I’ve taken some very long walks in just about every direction (Howth and Ticknock Forest are both beautiful), visited museums with new friends, tried out a bouzouki (look it up – they're awesome) at the shop from which I ordered one of my whistles years ago, and there are still so many more things on the list. The highlight so far, though, came just the other evening, when my colleagues from Glasnevin and I met for the resident genealogist’s leaving do and stayed out enjoying one another’s company and singing songs into the wee hours of the morning. See, it’s the people that make the difference. It would be easy enough to wander around Dublin these couple of months without making any lasting connections, but I am heartened by the fact that, already, I feel very welcome indeed at Glasnevin.

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Sam Wherley

<p>My name is Sam Wherley. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, but I have had the good fortune to study and travel abroad several times, including two semesters and a Fulbright in Spain as well as trips with my college choir and family through Europe and elsewhere. I am now pursuing a Master's of International Affairs at Penn State University and I am thrilled to be in Dublin this summer with IES. I cannot overemphasize the value of my experiences abroad and the enthusiasm with which I encourage others to study abroad.</p>

2022 Summer 1, 2022 Summer 2
Home University:
Penn State University
State College, Pennsylvania
International Affairs
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