Céad Míle Fáilte! I’m Maddie Weldon, a senior music major at the Mount studying in Dublin this fall. However, this is not the first time I have travelled with the Mount. In Fall of 2018 I studied abroad in Prague and for Spring Break 2019 I went on the Peru trip. So, what brings me abroad with the Mount this time?
My dad, Tony Weldon, was born and raised in a part of Dublin called East Wall. He spent his youth living in the city and travelling through the rest of Europe whenever he got the chance, as well as Australia and Africa. He even worked at Aer Lingus for most of his early adult life. Sometimes in his early adulthood, he would even travel as far as America.
My mom, Peggy Smith (now Weldon), was 21 years old and fresh out of college when she first arrived in Ireland. Pretty much her whole life until this point was spent in or around Potomac, Maryland, so she always dreamed of travelling. She always knew that the first country she would visit one day would be Ireland, the home of her ancestors.
Little did they know, they came in on the same flight; Tony returning from a vacation to the States, and Peggy on her life’s first real adventure. On the bus from the Dublin airport (the 41 airport an lar to the city centre), they somehow struck up a conversation. One thing led to another, and in 1980s Dublin, my mom and dad fell in love.
Growing up in America, my parents would keep a lot of Irish culture in the household so my siblings and I were familiar with where we really came from. We went to Ireland several times when I was very young, but this came to a halt when I was about 5 years old and the plane fares skyrocketed (pun not intended). Through my later childhood and teenage years, I always held a deep curiosity about what life in Ireland was like; all the incredible places my parents had stories about and all the amazing people they’d told me about who I’d descended from, and it felt as though I was missing out on the adventure of a lifetime, living in Ireland.
When I had the chance to study abroad in Prague, I jumped at the opportunity to visit Dublin on my fall break. For the first time in 15 years, I returned to a place that in some ways I felt so unfamiliar with, yet in other ways felt like home. During that short trip, I decided I had to fully immerse myself in the culture that I had wanted to know for so long. I had spent my life reading books about the legends of the Children of Lir and the Blarney Stone and writing essays for school about Newgrange and folklore, and more than anything I wanted to live through it all for myself. So, when Dr. Ward emailed the whole school with a picture of Temple Bar, I responded (ironically, from Temple Bar) and asked for more information about studying abroad in Dublin.
This brings us to today. I am now in the city my parents lived together in when they were young. I am researching the rich history that my dad grew up learning in school. I am exploring with my boyfriend Jakob around the city in which my parents fell in love. This semester, I’m retracing the footsteps of the people who raised me, and those who raised them before, and so on. Tune in with me every week as I take a deeper look into my own #IrishRoots on #WeldonWednesdays!