Studying Across Europe

A Vulcan’s Tale: A UH Hilo student’s journey across different parts of Europe: Ireland

Staff Writer Breandain Clarke
Photographs courtesy of Breandain Clarke and Rosannah Gosser

In my last article, I left you all on quite the cliffhanger! The connection between Ireland, as well other Celtic communities such as Scotland, and Hawaiʻi is that there were many missionaries, and merchants who immigrated to Hawaiʻi. If you were to go up to the Kohala Mountains, 60 miles NorthWest of Hilo, just past Waimea, you would find some celtic crosses engraved into the graves and tombstones.

Editor’s Note: This is an ongoing editorial column.

Coast of Europe When I first landed in the Dublin airport, the first thing I noticed was the large abundance of rabbits all across the grass fields within the plane tarmac. Though the rabbits are a lot cuter, they reminded me of all the chickens that inhabit the town of Hilo. Like the coqui frogs that I actually really miss hearing, wherever you go in Hilo, you hear and see chickens. Everywhere!

Here in Ireland, you see rabbits. Ireland’s human-to-rabbit ratio is one human per eight, their human to chicken ratio is one human to every 14 chickens! Similar to Scotland and our dear Hawai’i, Ireland is just as luscious and green. I have few memories of living in Ireland when I was a child. I specifically remember the green scenery and the rain. All I can say about the rain is that it obviously reminded me of Hilo, just a lot colder.

Being the birthplace of my father and my mother’s great grandmother, I have never truly felt more at home, more grounded and centered than when I am in Ireland. Like the native Hawaiians have a deep love, respect, and understanding with their culture and nature, so do the Irish. There is such an immense sense of pride that it is palpable.

The coast of Ireland During my trip to Ireland, I was able to stay with my family in Navan in county Meath. From there, it is only about 30 miles from Dublin, which is where I would spend most of my days there. Although it is a lot larger than our quaint town of Hilo, Dublin reminds me a lot of Hilo. Located near a bay, the view of the ocean is just a small walk down the canal that goes through the lively town.

During that walk, you will find art statues that to remember the victims of the potato famine. Their haunting stature and grim faces can really humble you. This made me think of the history of Hawaiʻi, and all of the atrocities brought upon them by outside forces. Similar to the native Hawaiians who were displaced by the overbearing powers of the United States, Ireland was once under the tyranny of the British Empire. It was through the lack of aid from the British Empire that led to the devastating outcome of the Great Famine. Though Northern Ireland is still a part of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland still endured and now thrives in this current day.

Missing the view of the ocean and the spray of sea mist in Hawaiʻi, there were two places in Ireland that I had to visit. The Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway. The Cliffs of Moher, as shown, were simply breathtaking, with lush green hills connecting above a vast sapphire ocean. I sat in the soft grass and looked out past the horizon, thinking about places in Hawaiʻi such as the Hāmākua coast and Waipiʻo valley. If you are able to, I implore you to discover the coast and valley for yourself. To take in such amazing views of nature is humbling, helps you appreciate the here and now, and will take the stresses of academia off your shoulders. I know that we have just come out of midterms and are now going into the final section of the fall semester, so to take a break and explore Hawaiʻi might be very constructive for not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.

Breandain Clarke overlooking the cliffs of Moher

If you have the time, please look up the geographical structure of Giant’s Causeway. Located in Northern Ireland, it is unlike anything I have ever seen or experienced. Due to a volcanic fissure that erupted 60 million years ago, the rock formation is in near-perfect hexagonal shapes, looking like something from a sci-fi fantasy! There is a myth of how this came to be. It has to do with battling giants from Ireland and Scotland, with identical rock structures being found in Fingal’s Cave, located in Scotland. This tale reminded me a lot of the myth of Rainbow Falls, and the epic battle between Moʻo Kuna the Lizard and demigod Maui.

In my last article, I left you all on quite the cliffhanger! The connection between Ireland, as well other Celtic communities such as Scotland, and Hawaiʻi is that there were many missionaries, and merchants who immigrated to Hawaiʻi. If you were to go up to the Kohala Mountains, 60 miles northwest of Hilo, just past Waimea, you would find some Celtic crosses engraved into the graves and tombstones.

During my trip to the very insightful and immersive EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum, I discovered that the Irish are the most immigrated people, with over 10 million people having left their homeland since the times of the Great Famine, which began in the mid 19th century. The entire museum was an interactive glimpse into the lives of the many immigrants who left Ireland in search of more. It was amazing to see how much the Irish have contributed to science, the arts, and modern living. Out of all of the attractions and museums to be found in Dublin, this is by far my favorite.

My stop at Trinity College located in Dublin was truly inspiring. The castle-esque university holds one of the most beautiful libraries I have had the good fortune to be in, housing one of their main tourist attractions, The Book of Kells Exhibition. The Book of Kells is a collection of four gospels, and it has wonderful medieval artwork that are shown in larger detail throughout the exhibition. Though I am not religious, I find this ancient relic to be more of an art piece rather than gospel. I think now it is mainly classified as an art piece anyway. Not to show too much of my nerdy side, but it felt like a journey within the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

OK Vulcans, you amazing students studying at the beautiful University of Hawaiʻi Hilo, I hope your midterms were easy sailing, and that the remainder of the semester is kind to you! In the next issue, hear about England, as I make my way down to the city of London!