Local Irish responses to US Affairs

When one comes to a program like Oideas Gael where people from around the world are coming to study and learn Irish, the first question that is often asked in any setting is “where are you from?” If my accent has not given my answer away already I respond with America, or Southern California to be more specific. Almost immediately the next question I receive is “Who are you voting for? Hillary or Trump?” The first time I was asked this question I was caught a little off guard, but as time went on I found that was one of the first questions the people I met in Ireland and from around the world would ask their new American friends.

This is a photo I took during one of my first excursions near Gleann Cholm Cille. These are the cliffs of Sliabh Liag which are said to be one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe!

This is a photo I took during one of my first excursions near Gleann Cholm Cille. These are the cliffs of Sliabh Liag which are said to be one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe!

After this question came up several times, I asked some of the members of my host family and some of their local friends what their thoughts were on American politics and what was going on in the States. Many related how they personally felt about the candidates and those opinions landed on both ends of the spectrum depending on what their own political values were. For the most part, the men and women I spoke with thought the campaigns were ridiculous and that when it came down to it, they would just be curious to see who would win the election. One man who was in his early twenties was one of the few people that expressed serious concern for the effects one candidate would have over another. He continued on to speak about how American politics affect Ireland and many other countries. It seemed to be that it was the younger generation that had more of a genuine concern versus the older generation that found it more entertaining and funny.

Oftentimes though, this type of conversation switched over to the recent shootings in the United States. Each morning, my host family has the radio on and every time a shooting occurred in the States, it would be the topic of that morning’s breakfast. They would ask me “What is going on with your country? What are you guys going to do about it?” That question was definitely a hard one to hear. In the States when something like this occurs, more often than not it strikes a debate and people end up picking sides. Here in Ireland though, it was not a question of who do you think is right in this situation, but rather more of a statement that America is experiencing some rough times and that it is more important to talk about the bigger picture.

Entry 1

When I took my first Irish Literature course Freshman Year, I had no idea as to how much it would affect my course of study and to the degree it would influence me as a person.  This past week, I have lived and learned in one of the most beautiful places I have been in my life – the small town of Gleann Cholm Cille in Co. Donegal.  When the bus I was on pulled into the town I could not believe the beauty that surrounded me (and therefore the lack of buildings I have grown accustomed to growing up in Southern California).  It was truly breath-taking.  I spent the first couple of days in town meeting locals, exploring some of the town and its spectacular views, and making myself familiar with my new home for the next couple weeks.

I was nervous to begin classes on Monday because I had been out of practice with speaking the Irish language since school had ended.  To my relief though, after the first day of being immersed in the language and working through some of the vocabulary I had forgotten, I was able to relax a little and truly enjoy learning Irish again.  It is incredible being surrounded by people all day who have such a great and particular interest in common and really are here to learn this beautiful language.  I could hardly believe it when I walked into the shops, restaurants, and even the Church and heard the Irish language being used outside of an academic environment.  I am so excited to continue learning Irish here and cannot wait to see what the next three weeks have in store.