I’m afraid I couldn’t resist the title; for those of you who don’t recognize the (paraphrased) opening line to “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” I recommend the song as an excellent one to start you down the delightful rabbit hole from which has grown my love of Irish music. Since a brief visit to Ireland in 2014, I have learned loads of songs (and the instruments to play them), and I have been itching to get back ever since. Here’s hoping my upcoming travel gets me to Dublin by something of a less rocky road.
While the chance to play and listen to traditional Irish music would be motivation enough for heading to Dublin, there are lots of other things to which I am looking forward. Fresh off a medieval Celtic history course, I’ve got a list of sites in Dublin and beyond that I am eager to visit. I will also be looking for a way to continue my ambition to learn the Irish language, something that began as an early-COVID-era pastime and has developed into a serious interest that I have been pursuing independently alongside my proper studies. And, then, of course, there is the internship that will be the main focus of my time in Dublin. Though things have come a bit down to the wire on the placement front, the leading possibility presents an exciting opportunity to work with the folks at Glasnevin Cemetery. There, I hope to be able to make specific connections in Irish history to my more general academic focus on the politics of language, culture, and nationhood.
My excitement for getting on a plane tomorrow (at the time of writing) is part of the cycle that begins when you get the chance to go abroad. Immersed in another cultural, social, and perhaps linguistic environment, you would almost have to try not to encounter people, places, customs, or bits of history that pique your interest and bear exploration even once you’ve returned home. Playing the tin whistle in a pub in County Galway, my sixteen-year-old self realized my three-song repertoire wanted badly for expansion. My ensuing exploration of traditional Irish music also brought lots of historical and cultural elements to my attention, which, in turn, have influenced my academic and personal pursuits. This sort of progression (which I’ve experienced in places besides Ireland as well) has also, for me, at least, served as continual motivation to get back to the places I’ve been and to find ways to visit a long and ever-growing list of others. Once you engage with some other little corner of the world besides your own, you realize how fascinating the unique aspects of each and every other little place can be, and you’ll be lucky if you can travel as quickly and as often as your curiosity does.
So, while the discoveries I have made since my last visit to Ireland are a big part of my excitement for going back, I am also looking forward to all the new experiences, people, places, and whatever else I will encounter this time around that may spawn new interests going forward. Feel free to follow along here for the highlights. Slán go fóill.
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<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>