The capital city of the Emerald Isle that is Ireland was our destination. Thirty of us from the Leistungskurse Englisch in the State Europe School Berlin went to explore and enjoy Dublin. Some of our students have kindly contributed their memories of our eventful trip in the form of prose and photographs below. We hope we offer you a taste of our experiences. We hope we inspire you to visit Dublin yourselves, and take in the culture and the language live!
Ms Churcher - Moderator for the SESB
- Dublin’s Rich Culture
- Jacobs Inn Hostel
- Trinity College
- Irish Cuisine
- A Journey to the coast
- The James Joyce Centre
- Twelfth Night
- The International Comedy Club
- Dublin’s Architecture
- Clontarf Golf Club
- Kilmainham Prison
1. Dublin's Rich Culture
The Irish capital has a lot to offer when it comes to culture. The Irish have always been a people with a strong tradition of treasuring their culture and cherishing it in museums, theatres and other cultural institutions. Music is in every Irishman's blood, the Irish say, and it seems to be very true. Traditional Irish music is still played throughout the country, and especially in Dublin. You just have to go into any pub and you are likely to see a live band playing traditional and contemporary Irish music.
The other arts do not come short either. Dublin was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde are just three of many renowned Irish writers. Dublin has numerous reputable theatres, including one we went to on our trip, the Abbey Theatre. Irish writers are kept alive by exhibitions dedicated to them in museums and their birthplaces. The James Joyce museum offers insights into Joyce's life and work and is a must, when in Dublin, for anybody who has an interest in his work and his significance as a Modernist.
Trinity College houses The Book of Kells, the oldest archived piece of writing in Ireland, which is on exhibition to the public. A visit to the university campus is in itself worthwhile. Trinity, Dublin castle and the General Post Office are but a few places to visit to get a feel for Dublin's culturally rich history. The city has a large underground art scene as well as major art galleries and art museums. If you do go to Dublin, which I can only recommend, you will not be dissatisfied with its diverse offerings of music, art, history, literature and culture.
by Jake Walsh
2. Jacobs Inn Hostel
During our trip to Dublin Jacobs Inn Hostel served as our accommodation. Located about ten minutes walking distance from the city centre, the hostel proved to be a comfortable and especially clean place. What's more I'd like to point out that I had to share a room with nine other guys, meaning that our room was by far the filthiest, the mess we created was unbelievable. However, the grime and muck was cleaned up every day and our room was spotless by midday, only to be besmirched again in the evening, when we returned from our day trips. The plus side of staying in such a cramped room was the fact that it was never boring. Ridiculous conversations, dirty jokes and arguments about who got to use the immaculate toilet first were guaranteed.
Although the rooms as well as breakfast were relatively unspectacular, the hostel was undeniably convenient: supermarkets, stores, restaurants as well as a bus stop were all in the vicinity. Those who were too lazy to walk to a store were able to buy soft drinks, sweets and crisps from vending machines within the hostel, all at fair prices.
In conclusion, Jacobs Inn Hostel is definitely praiseworthy and a good choice, particularly for school trips such as ours, when you are looking for a cheap, clean and comfortable place to stay in Dublin.
by Albert Ebser
On Wednesday evening we all went to the Abbey Theatre. W.B Yeats - one of the most noticeable Irish authors – founded the Abbey Theatre at the beginning of the 20th century as the Irish national theatre. It was therefore not only a cultural evening we all enjoyed, but also a visit to one of the most popular venues of Dublin. This night’s programme: Pygmalion. The play by G.B. Shaw concerning the importance of language or the phonetics of language, controversially depicts the British class system and the ridiculousness of upper class manners during the early 20th century. It is one of the most well-known and most significant pieces of Irish literature.
The performance, which was also greatly revered by the press, impressed, I think, all of us. Shaw’s wit and observations were presented in a precise and clever manner, as the director followed closely the original text. The director employed rather realistic stage and costume designs representing the style of Shaw’s times. However, there was enough theatrical hyperbole, abstraction and innovative use of lighting and stage techniques to make the play a timeless representation of the difficulties of societal boundaries. This production was definitely a memorable part of our course trip.
by Emilie Sievert
4. Trinity College
On the second day of our Dublin trip, we visited the famous Trinity College, a very prestigious university, building on a more than four-hundred-year tradition. Today, it is recognized as Ireland´s best university, ranking as 52nd among the top universities of the world. Both Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde, celebrated Irish authors, studied at Trinity´s. We were privileged to a presentation about the various subjects taught at Trinity College and possible ways of applying to the college after having gained the “Allgemeine Hochschulreife“ in Germany. As a group, we were taken on a guided tour of the campus, learning a lot about the different buildings and squares. Our tour guide, a history student at Trinity, managed to convey historical details with a lot of humour, also referring to the different facilities on the campus. Finally, we viewed the “Book of Kells“ in the College library and concluded our college tour with a short visit to the souvenir shop below the library. Although the weather took a some getting used to, the morning was very pleasant and informative.
by David Dieter
5. Full or Mini?
A Reflection on the English-LK-Experience of Irish Cuisine
Our group's lasting memory of Irish cuisine was largely based on that of the first morning as we were treated to the auspiciously named Full Irish or Mini Irish Breakfast. Those of us who were used to English breakfasts weren’t very surprised at what was presented to us – a perfect assembly of nutritious morsels such as bacon, fried eggs, sautéed mushrooms and baked beans – with the optional extra of black and white pudding, the Full Irish version. Those who were used to ‘continental’ breakfasts were rather taken aback at what was served up, and from the second day onward decided to stick to the familiar concerning the morning food supply at the hostel – cereal and sandwiches. Interestingly, when we visited local restaurants-cum-pubs (‘greasy spoons’) during the day nothing on the menu struck the group as being quite as extravagant or curious.
The fact that Italian restaurants and fast-food-outlets featured highly during our stay led unfortunately to our experience of real Irish cuisine being a rather sporadic one. Nevertheless, breakfast at O’Sheas Hotel - repeatedly accompanied by the question of whether one had actually ordered the full or the mini – was definitely something to remember.
by Moritz Kiermeier
6. A Journey to the Coast
We were moving ever so closer to the end of our enjoyable stay in Ireland and it was time to shake things up a bit. So, with that in mind, we went off to explore Ireland’s fabled countryside. After a somewhat dull bus trip and a few rather pleasant encounters with the denizen of Dublin’s outskirts, we finally were able to embark on our quest for the day. I was left speechless and amazed as I gazed upon the moss-covered jagged rocks that rose up from the soft soil and which would prove to be ever present during the navigation of this perilous terrain. During our journey some of us, including me, decided that the regular route was not challenging enough and came to the conclusion that they could get the thrill they craved for by scaling the nearest hill, which was looming ominously ahead. The band of dauntless venturers naturally bested this inanimate adversary swiftly and without falter. As a compensation for their tireless efforts they were presented with a price beyond comparison: a mesmerizing and unforgettable view of the Irish coast. It was here in a silence that was only disturbed by the timid breath of the ocean and the distant cries of pale marine birds that we were able to reminisce about the scope of our experiences during this adventure that was Dublin.
by Felix Oertel
7. The James Joyce Centre
During our English LK trip to Dublin, we visited the James Joyce Centre, which is situated in a period house in the northern part of the city. These were the poorer streets in which Joyce, as a young man, grew up after the fortunes of his father had taken a sharp decline. Many of the scenes from 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' are depicted in these very streets.
The James Joyce Centre features his famous novel 'Ulysses', which is widely regarded as the most significant novel of the 20th century. We were given a tour of the house by a phenomenally knowledgeable guide, herself a student at Trinity, who related much about Joyce's colourful life. We then took part in a workshop on 'Evelyn' and
'The Boarding House' from the author's collection of short stories 'Dubliners'. The seminar was led by an expert on Joyce who helped us gain a deeper insight into the meaning and style of his writing. But that is not done in a day! Joyce's works could well keep you occupied over a lifetime. Anybody read 'Ulysses' or 'Finnegan's Wake' yet?
by Vanessa Schmidt and Lilith Chung
8. Twelfth Night
On the second day, we visited Dublin University. During our visit, it was proposed that we see the performance of Twelfth Night by old Bill Shakespeare, which would be performed on the same night by some post-graduates of the university. The proposition was put to the vote and amazingly a majority actually was interested. So the tickets were bought and eventually we all made our way to the university. At the entrance, a very entertaining man in tights was handing out programmes, trying to sell us tickets we already had and generally embarrassing the onlookers. It was very difficult to have a conversation with him and keep a straight face, since he seemed determined to be more enthusiastic than a mother about her baby on any theme one tried to talk to him about. Eventually, we managed to get in and secure some excellent seats and everyone agreed that it had been well worth it. There was not a dry eye left in the audience for all the laughter. Not that any of them had been dry in the first place, since on the way there and in the interval the Irish weather had not disappointed us. Generally, one could say it was a rainy day in Dublin.
It was clear that it was an amateur production, yet a few semi-professionals and even one professional were involved and on the whole it was masterfully performed. The actors managed with very few props - these being limited to a couple of boxes and the occasional blanket to serve as a curtain or tablecloth - and traditional costumes. All this gave it a very genuine Shakespearean atmosphere (but not as inaccessible as one might think). The storyline of the play was very complex, but this made it all the more amusing as it led to many amusing misunderstandings among the characters. It actually reminded me greatly of Fawlty Towers.
Although some of them were not entirely convincing, on the whole the actors performed magnificently. The actor playing Malvolio, the servant of Olivia, was particularly memorable. In one scene he practised his mannerisms designed to endear him to his lady in a most amusing way. The actor playing the jester Feste was also very good and his appearance was a bonusin this particular role, since he had an extravagant hairstyle. One might call it a windswept mop combed by a hurricane. Another pair of characters I enjoyed were Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the two drunkards in the play. Not only did the actors perform very well, they also fitted perfectly into Dublin's relaxed and humorous atmosphere. All in all, it was a very entertaining evening at the beginning of a very interesting trip.
by Lawrence Conrad
9. The International Comedy Club
The International Comedy Club is a stand-up comedy club. Located above The International Bar, it remains almost unseen by most passing tourists. The only hint of the hidden club is an advertisement on a small billboard. As you enter through the bar, which is necessary to get to the club, you spy a steep flight of stairs at the other end of the bar, which takes you up to the main entrance of the comedy club. Having paid the entrance fee, you enter what could resemble a single-room apartment. Inside a small purpose-bulit stage is located at the front as well as some old, well-worn furniture - couches and cushioned stools. Behind these there is small bar where you can order drinks to quench your thirst. The walls are largely covered with pictures of the most popular comedians and the most famous acts the club has hosted.
As you wait for the show to begin, more and more people start filling the room until the tiny space is completely stuffed with mainly Irish folk and some tourists. Even the area for people who like to stand is full. As everyone is waiting for the show to begin the tension rises and the mood gets lively.
The host, an American, starts the show off with some brief jokes and after then the real performance begins. Comedians from many anglophone countries are on stage - Irish, Australian, American, and even English men. This might explain the name: The International Comedy Club. Not only men make up the stand-up comedy performance but also a few women. Most of the comedians make fun of other cultures and also inevitably of the tourists visiting the club. Other topical subjects such as social networks are also made fun of.
If you feel inspired to experience the International Comedy Club just follow Wicklow Street until you arrive at number 23!
by Nicholas Coon
10. Dublin’s Architecture
Dublin’s architecture offers a combination of new metropolitan and numerous old buildings, which were almost exclusively built during the Georgian era of the 18th and early 19th century. The Georgian style is found predominantly in Dublin’s city centre. Hence, the buildings there are seldom higher than three storeys and feature the best known characteristic of Georgian houses, the impressively decorated door cases. A large number of public buildings were built in the Georgian style, such as the new parliament house and the public theatre.
When walking through Dublin’s city centre, one does not get the feeling Dublin is a metropolis, however, leaving aside the crowded pedestrian shopping areas. This is due to the fact that the highest building is the Christ Church Cathedral and all the other buildings are significantly lower. Nonetheless, the old buildings are well preserved. This gives the city a unique flair and warm atmosphere. One could be walking through a small town situated in the countryside without perceiving any decisive differences.
Only in the outer districts do you come across high and modern buildings. However, in these areas a lot of buildings are left unfinished and others will always remain a construction site, as a result of the financial difficulties Ireland is facing at the moment. Dublin's architecture alone is worth a trip but in order to be able to see the unique architecture, I would recommend you always carry an umbrella with you!
by Melissa Paraskevaidis
11. The Clontarf Golf Club
When playing golf in Ireland, one can immediately feel that golf is much more popular than in Germany. Since we had a couple of free hours on our first day in Dublin, we (Piers & Julius) decided to go golfing at one of the numerous local courses. We arrived with no equipment at all, hired two sets of clubs and teed off within 30 minutes. This would have been virtually impossible in Germany.
The course itself was a challenging, 18 hole parkland course in excellent condition. The speedy greens were one of the best both of us have ever played. Although Clontarf is a relatively short course, the narrow fairways required an excellent aim from the tee thus creating a healthy mixture of challenge and enjoyment.
After four hours of golfing, we finished our round and returned to the hostel just in time for a group meeting. Good timing lads!
by Julius Winkler and Piers Kriegs
12. The Kilmainham Prison
One of Dublin’s though-provoking attractions is the Kilmainham Prison. It was built in 1792 and served as the prison for most leaders of the Irish rebellions in their struggle for independence. On our tour we were told the tragic stories of the prisoners, while entering tiny, cold and dark rooms where it had all taken place. And if that wasn't disturbing enough, the prison had been constructed to give you the feeling of being constantly watched. This made the tour even more memorable. It is to be recommended for anyone interested in Ireland’s history. The east wing and execution area of the prison may seem familiar to some since several famous films and series have been filmed here, for example The Italian Job and The Tudors, to name a couple. An historically significant and evocative venue.
by Antonia Kirschner