The Ireland Experience 2014

The photo above was taken on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at a local beach near Tully. It represents Irish culture, but also speaks to me personally. At first glance, you see rocks, grass, mountains, two bikes, and two girls, but there is much more to this picture than what is visible. I would like to share the journey of this photo, as it will lead to the representation of Irish culture. The journey starts like this:

Two girls are brought together because they share a common interest; they both want to travel to Ireland. They meet informally for meetings and scheduled class times before the big departure. The time comes when each person must say goodbye to their friends, family, and support system. They are asked to get to know others who are embarking on the same journey.

The travel time seemed extensive, but time passed as the two girls shared stories about home and discussed what they were looking forward to on the trip. It is not always easy to get along with strangers. You are telling someone about your life and you realize they have never heard your story so you can tell it in great detail or keep it at a minimum. For myself, I kept it at a minimum until I felt more comfortable.

At this point in the journey we finally arrived in Tullycross, Ireland. It sank in that I would be living here for over three weeks with girls I hardly knew; it is both exciting and frightening at the same time. As the week progressed, I missed home, but found support and advice from the girls in my cottage.

I shared my thoughts and opinions with one girl in particular, her name was Hannah. This is most likely because she is staying in the room next to me, but also because she is approachable and warm-hearted. In just one short week we went from strangers to great friends. We decided on Saturday afternoon to take the bikes to a local beach. We had spent the entire morning working on our papers for history and decided we owe it to ourselves to have some fun. We grabbed the bikes and headed down the road.

We quickly realized that it had been a long time since we rode a bike. On the way there it was all downhill, so we knew it would be a challenge coming back. We both felt like to kids with the wind in our face and laughing so hard we had to slow down or we were going to fall over.

We arrived at the beach safely and stopped to stare at the breathtaking view. When I looked across the rocks and water to the high peak of the mountain, I could not help but imagine the people who came before me. The farmers who cultivated the land on the mountain side or the people in rickety boats that traveled across the Atlantic waters in hopes of catching fish to feed their family. So much history stands before me as I look out from the shore.

Once we spent time with our feet in the water and felt the sand between our toes, we decided to head back to the cottages. As predicted, it was a challenge. The hills seemed to have no end and our legs were on fire. With a little encouragement and a lot of laughter, we finally made it back to the cottages. Although we did some walking, we finished strong and rode our bikes into Tullycross. At that moment, an unforgettable memory was made. All of a sudden it hit me and I realized what picture I would be using to complete my photo project.

The photo of Hannah and I with our bikes in front of the beautiful landscape of rural Ireland is what spoke to me personally and represented Irish culture. This photo displays friendship, memories, and the history of Ireland. The Irish culture seems to value the importance of friendship and what it means be hospitable. Everywhere you go, people are offering a welcoming hello or are interested in what you are doing. They automatically want to build a friendship with you.

Likewise, those friendships turn into memories; Memories from the pub, bike riding, or taking a walk. As long as there is good company, memories can be made. It is also easy to recognize the history of Ireland. It is visible in the landscape and recognized in the storytelling. I have learned that the Irish are wonderful storytellers and take great appreciation in the history of their country, something that is very different from the United States.

This picture also speaks to me personally because I did not expect to find a close friend on this trip. I knew when I signed up for this experience that I was going to be home sick, so it is reassuring to have some support. I also love to take photos, so this assignment was meaningful to me. So much can be told about a photo, especially when you have been a part of the experience.

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