Wednesday, February 17, 2010

But Kimber, what should I pack?

Some of you enterprising readers may already be trying to plan your very own trip to Ireland. So today I would like to share a packing list for your average Irish day-trip:

The one word you need to get really comfortable with is layers. Say it with me. Layers.
- Start with a T-shirt (long or short sleeved)
- Then a light sweatshirt
- Then a puffy vest or similar
- Rain jacket: it will rain
- Umbrella, but only if you don't mind being scoffed at by the Irish
- Nalgene (or other water container)
- An extra pair of socks (for when yours get soaked from trudging across a bog)
- A snack
- Light hiking/Heavy walking shoes

Other items to bring on your trip should include:
- An international chip for your cell phone
- A camera
- A logbook to record your adventures
- Plug adapter (for those crazy European plugs)

Pants might also be a good idea, but I'll leave it up to you to decide how you handle that situation. If you're going to be moving around the country a lot, it's best to pack light. One suitcase and a backpack should be enough. That's about it. Personally, I love packing lists. They make the trip seem so much more imminent.

To conclude today's post, I would like to introduce you to another classic Irish song. This one is called "Mo Ghile Mear," which means "Our Hero" in Gaelic. It refers to Bonnie Prince Charlie, whom many of the Irish hoped would reclaim the English throne and reestablish Catholicism in Great Britain. Enjoy.

This is a pretty epic version by Sting.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Constitution and the Field

Irish films, like Irish history, tend to be a pretty bleak lot. This week's case in point: The Field.

Starring the brilliant Richard Harris (who was nominated for an Academy award for this role) and a terribly attractive young Sean Bean (remember, Boromir?), the Field basically demonstrates the pretty bleak lifestyle of many rural Irish at around mid-century. Irish males were either the family heir, expected to care for the land, or a younger son, with little choice but to emigrate.

Besides being horribly depressing, this film also introduced to me the concept of the American Wake. Family members who emigrated might as well have died, and together with the Potato Blight, emigration is one of the primary reasons Ireland's population went from about 6 million to about 3 million between 1841 and 1941.

That's all I'm going to say about The Field. Truth be told, emigration is not really a big part of the movie. It's more about the almost fanatical tie of the Irish to their land, and it explains the mentality that would make them kill or die to protect that land. I'm not a believer in spoilers, but be warned, this movie is a downer.

A slightly less blatant but no less poignant illustration of the love of Irish people for their land can be found in the song "Four Green Fields". The old woman of the song is Ireland. The four fields are the four provinces of Ireland, and the one that is lost is Ulster, which is still under British rule.

To close, I want to say a word about the Constitution of 1937. No, actually, I don't. I feel like this blog post has become too didactic and has ceased to be entertaining. If you're interested, look it up.