Although my first day in this new land yielded little sleep, the third day of my travels thankfully granted me some rest during the night. I remember waking up that next morning to the sounds of children playing in the Irish working-class neighborhood known as Ballymun. There was a beautiful park in the front of my homestay, which I unfortunately did not have time to explore due to a busy orientation schedule. My first task of the day was to find out the bus routes that could easily take me into the heart of Dublin. Joe, my roommate, and I scoured Google Maps and quickly found that both the 4 and 13 buses were the ones we needed. Once in the city, we walked to the StayCity where Joe and I met up with Colin and Will, our other tripmates, for a scavenger hunt as part of our class orientation. The hunt for the different people and places excited me, even though my feet were killing me nearly the entire time.
Irish Parliament Building: Beautiful, but more crowded than it looks!
While exploring the different landmarks dotted throughout the city, I paid unique attention to the graffiti along the poles and the blank faces of buildings. One sticker jumped out at me in both its message and prevalence downtown: “Are you a communist? Get organized today!” it read, which was accompanied by a QR code for the Instagram @irishmarxists. All along the journey in and around the city, these stickers somehow turned up on every pole I came across, except almost all were mutilated to the point that the original message could not be easily made out. All along the rest of the scavenger hunt, I kept thinking about the absolute media outrage that would be showcased if any of this were in America.
Shortly after this picture was taken, we were visited by a feathered friend…
After walking for a few hours, our group stopped by a rooftop café called M&S Café along Grafton Street. I ordered two ham sandwiches, which were gone in an instant thanks to the exhaustion and hunger of walking around the city. I cannot recall who, but someone ate an apple around the time that a curious seagull hopped over to our table. Will, who had a brilliant and hilarious idea right then and there, took and held the end of the finished core of the apple to the bird. For the next five minutes, he essentially hand-fed this bird, all the while the rest of our table burst out in laughter.
These stickers are everywhere!
After our break, we headed to St. Stephen’s Green where we continued to find heads and statues of historical significance. While on our park walk, we noticed a group of people gathering outside of what looked like a government building. As we got closer, we realized that the group protesting was none other than the Irish Communist Party, which held a banner that said “Peace and Neutrality – NOT NATO.” I watched from afar as the group, without chanting or becoming obnoxious, stood at the corner while regular passersby went up to either peacefully debate or ask questions. After walking past the protest we decided to call it a day for our scavenger hunt, so we headed back to the StayCity and from there went home to a homestay-cooked dinner. Though I disagree politically with the Irish Communist Party, there was not a trace of violence or hatred in or around their public protest.