While on my travels to the U.K with the People to People Student Ambassador Program I was most excited about going to Ireland. Not only because of how beautiful everything looks over there (my camera could not do justice to the rich and beautiful landscape) but because of my own personal ties to Ireland. I am half Irish with both my grandparents on my mother’s side coming from Irish families (the O’Sullivans and the Colemans). To be in the land where my ancestors came from made the whole trip worthwhile. While I was over there I bought my grandmother a rosary from Ireland and even had it blessed in a Catholic church (she loves to brag about it and show it to the ladies at church).
But the best part about my Irish experience was actually giving back to the Irish communities. We stopped in a town in Ireland to partake in volunteer projects. The first one was helping to cut and dry peat so the elderly could use it to keep their houses warm in the winter. Then we all split up to do different volunteer projects with a youth of Ireland volunteer group. I helped out at a Donation Center by folding clothes, putting toys away, and organizing book shelves. I was happy to help out and later on that night we went to a local school and were entertained by a group of Irish teens that played for us. They taught us several dances but my favorite part was when they played a song called “Isle of Hope”. The song follows the very first immigrant to enter Ellis Island named Annie Moore who was an Irish immigrant. She was just 14 years old and was traveling with her two younger brothers. While listening to the song it made me think about my own ancestors who left Ireland for a better life and to escape poverty and hunger.
“Isle of hope, isle of tears,
Isle of freedom, isle of fears,
But it’s not the isle you left behind.
That isle of hunger, isle of pain,
I will never see again
But the isle of hope is always on your mind.”
Just listening to those lyrics I couldn’t even imagine what my ancestors and thousands of other Irish immigrants were thinking when they finally made it across the ocean and saw the beacon of hope that is the Statue of Liberty. I know that if I ever got the chance again I would go back to Ireland without a second thought.
(The photo of Ireland that I best thought captured its beauty was when we went to the Gap of Dunloe and I also included pictures of the place where I volunteered and the group of teenagers that played music for us. The lyrics for “Isle of Hope” was from Celtic Women and I highly suggest listening to the song.)
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