Most Famous Tales, Part 1
In all mythologies, there’s a few tales that everyone knows from the time they’re children. For Greek mythology it might be the story of Persephone and Demeter or Midas and his golden touch (or so many more—that’s what we tend to know best in the Western world.) For the Norse it might be Thor’s hammer, Ragnarök, or the nine realms. And for Anglo-Saxon myths it might be St. George and the dragon or Beowulf…but what about Irish mythology? While we’ve talked about many of the creatures and folklore that imbue Irish tales on the blog, we’ve not told you many stories. Here are a few of the most famous ones!
The Salmon of Knowledge
According to legend, in the River Boyne there once lived a fish called the Salmon of Knowledge. A learned poet named Finegas has been trying for seven long years to catch the fish, as it was said the first person to eat the fish would be wiser than all other men. When a young warrior named Fionn came to live with Finegas to learn from him, Fionn asked why Finegas fished all day, but the poet wouldn’t reveal his motivations. Then, finally, Finegas caught a fish and knew it was the Salmon of Knowledge! He commanded Fionn to cook the fish right away, but to not eat a single bite. Fionn listened to his master, but while turning the fish on the spit, Fionn burned his thumb and placed it in his mouth to soothe himself—and received all the knowledge Finegas had wanted for himself! And so Fionn left Finegas’s tutelage, as Finegas had no more to teach him, and Fionn went on to become a wise and great poet, warrior, and leader of the Fianna—the greatest group of warriors Ireland has ever known.
The Children of Lir
Long in the past, there was a King named Lir who lived happily with his wife and four children: Fionnula, Aodh, Conn, and Fiachra. When Lir’s wife died, the family was nearly crushed by their grief, so Lir went out to find a new mother for his children. High King Dearg sent his daughter Aoife to marry Lir, but Aoife was not kind-hearted, instead cruel and jealous of Lir’s love of his children. One day when the children were playing and swimming in Lough Derravaragh, Aoife used Druidic magic to cast a spell on all four of them, turning them into swans for the next 900 years! Lir banished Aoife from his kingdom, but there was no way to reverse the spell—only a sound of a Christian church bell would be able to bring the children back. So the siblings spent 900 long years as swans—until they were released from their torment by a monk named Caomhog who rang the bell and watched in amazement as the swans turned into elderly people. The children died in each other’s arms and were buried in one grave, but the monk dreamed of their happy fate: they were reunited with Lir and their mother in the afterlife.
The Formation of the Giant’s Causeway
Located on the Antrim coast, the Giant’s Causeway is a popular tourist attraction today, but it is said to have been formed long ago by a giant named Finn McCool (aka Fionn Mac Cumhaill.) One day, Finn McCool stood along the coast, looking out across the Irish sea to Scotland, when a less-intelligent Scottish giant named Benandonner began to shout insults and threats at him! Finn took great chunks from the surrounding cliffs and threw them into the sea, creating a causeway made of great columns of sheared off stone so he could reach the other giant. However, as he got closer Finn realized that Benandonner was much bigger than him. Not wanting to take his chances, Finn and his wife Oonagh came up with a plan to trick Benandonner instead. They dressed Finn up as a baby and when the Scottish giant came knocking at their door, he ran away in fear--if that’s how big Finn’s baby was, Finn must be enormous! In his haste and to prevent being followed, Benandonner ripped up the causeway, leaving only the bit on Ireland’s coast that still exists today!
The Harp of Dagda
Long long ago there was a warrior of much-renown named Dagda Mór who became king of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Known as the many-skilled, lord of knowledge, the maker, and man of the peak, Dagda had many wonderous possessions, but none so wonderful as his harp. Dagda’s beautiful harp warranted its own name: Uaithne. This harp had many talents—it kept the seasons in order, prepared warriors for battle, and its music was so beautiful it conquered all sorrows. When the Tuatha Dé Danann were battling against the Fomorians, the Fomors coveted Dagda’s harp and stole it! Though the Fomors were defeated in battle, their forces were still many, but
Tune back in next week for another crop of Ireland’s most famous mythic stories!
This post is part of a series. Read our mythology post, all about how the Star Wars hero, Luke Skywalker, is based on Irish myth, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
SRL Core Values: Enthusiasm
SRL’s core values are all about helping your dancer be G.R.E.A.T.E.R., and this week we’ve reached the second E, for Enthusiasm. This is a particularly important topic as we move into prep for our annual Showcase (Saturday, June 18th, mark your calendars and remember to buy tickets!)—enthusiasm is a huge part of showmanship and giving your all to any and all performances! But enthusiasm is more multi-faceted than that—it’s also a way of approaching whatever life brings you that can serve your dancer outside of the studio. Let’s explore!
First off, we want to make sure all our dancers are enthusiastic about dance! As dancers move up through the levels and Irish dance asks more of their time and commitment, we want to make sure they continue to love what they’re doing. But more than that, we want them to continue to have an enthusiastic attitude about all that dance entails: the hard work, the challenges of new steps and levels, the ups and downs of class and competition—always knowing it will make them a better dancer as a result. As a studio, we try to take the dancers’ opinions and preferences into account in class to help keep their interest and enthusiasm (i.e. make sure they have fun!), while balancing it with what they need to improve in their practice. While enjoying themselves is always important, instilling enthusiasm is also about facing the more difficult parts of dance with an upbeat and constructive attitude—not just the fun bits!
Because enthusiasm is above all, an attitude. That means approaching all people and situations with a positive outlook and gratitude for the chance to grow, rather than defeatist or resentful feelings. It’s always okay to get frustrated, be sad, or even angry—but the key is to not let those emotions be the primary ones they experience dance or life through. They have their time and their place to be felt and expressed, but approaching all life throws at them with enthusiasm (i.e. that challenges will help them grow as people and improve their lives for having faced them) can help our dancers bounce back from anything.
It can be hard and terrifying to put your all into anything—it’s a kind of confidence in yourself, in your abilities and your possibility for growth, that even many adults can struggle with. (There’s also those dreaded teenage years, where having too much enthusiasm for anything can feel deeply uncool.) By creating a safe space and community based around enthusiasm—where enthusiasm is the norm—the studio is helping model a positive attitude and appreciation. This has two sides: not only is it absolutely cool to care about something and give all you can to it, but appreciating the challenges you’re presented with is the best way to take care of yourself and grow in any aspect of your life!
Enthusiasm really can also be seen as a type of care—your dancer caring about their teachers, families, fellow dancers, and especially themselves. To care about yourself and others is to give your all to your experiences with them (and with yourself!), meaning changing the mindset around problems and difficulties. Rather than approaching a hard class, a bad test grade, a fight with mom or a friend, or not meeting a goal with only irritation, unhappiness, or antagonism, giving your all and caring about these people and situations means accepting those feelings and moving forward—in positivity. Learning from hard experiences and growing from them is the key to enthusiasm, and will help our students not only in school and later work, but to better develop their interpersonal relationships (and relationship with their self and self-confidence!), as well.
As we said, the Showcase recital is just around the corner, and performing can be an anxiety-inducing time—especially for our newest dancers! As a studio, we appreciate the help our parents give us outside our walls to instill enthusiasm about hard and scary new challenges with their dancers, knowing it will only help build their confidence and form their outlook on life. We look forward to seeing all that enthusiasm up on stage in just a few short weeks!
This post is part of a series. Read our last core values post, all about Transparency, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
Modern Ireland: Irish Slang
Story horse? We’re back again with some of the most confusing Irish slang terms we could find! (Missed part 1 and 2? Catch up here and here!)
Note: Just like in America, all slang presented below is regional. And just like America, it's difficult to figure out exactly where a singular word originates from when you're not living there. For this reason, regional information hasn't been included with this post.
Very lucky! Winning-the-lotto type lucky. Used as an adjective, as in, You’re so jammy!
First, we need to discuss a term you may have thought you already had down: craic (pronounced like “crack.”) It’s most commonly heard as a way to say “what’s up?”—i.e. “how’s the craic?” or as a synonym for fun (which is often described as being “90” when really fun, i.e. “the craic was 90.”) However, there’s yet another way you’ll hear it: minus craic, which is when something is really boring. It’s not just not fun, it’s quite literally negative fun.
Generally, teasing--making fun of someone, but in a friendly or nice way. Friends are just slagging each other. However, it can be used in a harsher way, as well. To slag someone off can mean to insult, criticize or upbraid them, sometimes behind their backs—this one is definitely about the context!
Fun or funny! This term is one that we had in the U.S. for a bit in the 50s, but has fallen out of fashion. You would describe someone, something, or an experience as being a gas when they make you laugh or you had a ton of fun doing it! A common way to use to this word is she/he/they/it were a gas altogether, i.e. really hilarious.
To complain or scold someone for misbehaving. A parent might be giving out to their child about acting up in school, or a friend might be giving out to another friend about something their partner did. Usually related to another person’s behavior.
Up to 90
Again, while we covered 90 last time as a way to describe the craic (it’s never 80 or even 100, always 90,) there’s another way the Irish like to use this number in their slang in two different ways. When someone says they’ve been up to 90 all day, they mean they’ve been incredibly busy/things have been chaotic. They may also use it as a way to express someone is bull-thick aka very angry, i.e. she’s been up to 90 since she found out I ate all the snacks.
Will I, yea?
A way of saying “I absolutely will not be doing that” in a sarcastic tone. As in: “You need to stop scrolling on TikTok.” “Will I, yea?!” It’s a definitely Irish way to answer someone—a lot of their slang has to do with opposites (i.e. saying you’re grand generally means you’re not doing so hot.)
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with eggs or oxen. It’s another catch-all word, this time for any object (a bit like we’d say “thingamajig,”) often used when you don’t know or can’t, at the moment, remember the name of an object. You might hear someone ask: What’s that yoke there?
A catch-all phrase that’s essentially used as a response when you’re not sure what to say, largely to acknowledge the other person is speaking to you (i.e. “It’s so hot out today.” “Ah, sure Iook.”) There’s a ton of ways to use/interpret sure look: “it is what it is,” the person is uninterested in what you’re saying (kind of like mmhmm,) an answer to a rhetorical question, grudgingly accepting your mistakes, positive reinforcement, begrudging respect, to look back with satisfaction, or just as conversational filler. Click the link for example sentences!
Give it a lash
While lash by itself can mean heavy rain (i.e. “it’s lashing down rain,”) when used in this particular phrase it means to try something out. You’d say give it a lash the same way you’d say “give it a go” in America. (Don’t get it mixed up with being on the lash though—that means you’ve gone out drinking.)
This post is part of a series. Check out our last Modern Irish culture post, with some fun Irish snacks, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
Modern Ireland: Uni Spotlight
Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest
This week we’re turning our university spotlight to focus on the newest school in the country: TUS Midlands Midwest. This uni was officially opened in October of 2021, but the schools it was formed from have much longer histories. TUS Midlands Midwest is an amalgamation of the Limerick Institute of Technology, which was founded in 1852 (though it’s been through many incarnations,) and the Athlone Institute of Technology, which the Irish government established in 1970. The resources of these two storied organizations are now serving more than 14,000 students on their six campuses across four counties and three provinces: multiple in Limerick City, and then in Athlone, Thurles, Clonmel, and Ennis.
Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest is as expansive as its name implies. First off, the Limerick campuses include the main Moylish campus, just outside the city, with 6,000 students, as well as the Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) in the city proper (plus, Coonagh, which holds engineering-focused research facilities—the first in the region!) Said to focus on “active learning through a fusion of theory and practice,” Moylish is the center of much student life—from society events to professional development opportunities. It also includes the 350-person Millennium Theater where the performance arts come to life, as well as the Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Center, home to at least 20 startups at any given time. While Moylish is slightly outside of the city, LSAD on Clare Street is right in the heart of Limerick. LSAD houses one of the top 50 Fashion departments in the world, augmented by the school’s incredible location that allows for incredible, culturally rich offerings for the art-inclined student.
The second principal campus after Moylish is Athlone, which provides over 200 industry-driven courses through the PhD level. These offerings include a large number of pioneering courses, as well as numerous study-abroad opportunities through the over 230 university partnerships the Athlone campus maintains (including in Beijing, New York, and Prague.) From their Business and Hospitality program where you can focus on everything from Tourism to Accounting, to Science and Health with everything from Nursing and Healthcare to Sport and Health Sciences—Athlone has prospects in a variety of industries. And Athlone’s population is around 25,000, making it the perfect balance between the recreation of a city and the coziness of a town.
Meanwhile, Thurles maintains TUS’s “Sports Lab,” a world class sports strength and conditioning facility that increases student’s practical learning skills (and whose research is utilized by many sports teams!) The Lab includes: “a unique 3D Organic Motion Capture System for motion analysis, a 45m six lane sprint track especially designed to improve speed, a Paralympic area, cable machines, a range of sport technology systems, including micro electro mechanical systems and GPS systems; Olympic lifting platform; five functional screening kits; weights and the full range of exercise machines.” And just across from campus is the Tipperary Technology Park—making it a truly unique place to support new enterprise development in this field!
Then we head over to the Clonmel campus, which is focused on digital subjects. These classes include their innovative Game Art & Design program, as well as Digital Animation Production, Creative Media and Design, and their newest focus: Visual Effects for TV, Film, and Animation. This relaxed, but technically-focused learning space strives for accessibility of cutting-edge tech while fostering creativity and invention. And the location can’t be beat! Right in the middle of the Golden Vale, this large town has everything you could want as a college student—cafes, restaurants, pubs, and culture—with the incredible natural beauty of the area an added bonus. The Suir Blueway Tipperary is just a stone’s throw away to hike or bike, not to mention the watersport opportunities along the river!
Lastly, we have Ennis, known for its small class sizes and Social Care Work courses in the middle of the largest urban centers in the Midwest, which retains its historic charm. However, within the gorgeous late-Georgian architecture, you’ll find thoroughly modern facilities with computer labs and recreational centers where students can complete “a total of 6 degree programs in Social Care, Early Childhood Care, and Education and Business.” Just like TUS’s campus here, this area of County Clare is known for its balance between “then and now,” which means the perfect combination of boutiques and eateries with buildings dating back to 1242 and traditional Irish music around every corner.
Essentially, TUS has everything to offer—smaller towns and class sizes or a larger university feel in a larger city—whatever a student is looking for! But there’s one uni left in Ireland we haven’t covered, the most highly specialized on the list. Visit the blog next time to learn more!
This post is part of a series. Read modern Ireland post, all Irish snack foods, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
Luke Skywalker or Lugh Samildánach?
Irish mythology has long influenced modern literature and media, times too numerous to count. From Tristan and Iseult inspiring Romeo and Juliet (which in turn became West Side Story) to mention of the banshee in Harry Potter to the influence of ancient Irish warriors on our conception of the American cowboy, Irish mythology has entered our collective conscious in a myriad of ways. But there’s one allusion so subtle that most people don’t see it at all, despite the fact that this series of films is one of the highest grossing of all time!
We’re talking, of course, about Star Wars! Combined, the 12 films have earned over $10 billion worldwide (not counting the TV specials and series, books, and merchandise!), all without people realizing that our original hero, Luke Skywalker, is actually a reincarnation of the Irish hero of myth and legend, Lugh Samildánach. Let’s explore the connections!
First, the names are pretty uncanny. Luke versus Lugh and Skywalker versus Samildánach—it’s hard to not see the parallel. Luke is said to mean “light-giving” (from the Greek,) while Lugh literally means “light” (from the Irish,) a complete match! While the “Skywalker” name seems self-explanatory, Star Wars lore gives a more complex explanation: it’s more than a last name, but a designation given to a Jedi warrior who can navigate with the force (aka Star Wars magic)—a highly specialized skill. Similarly, “Samildánach” is a title as much as a name as well--meaning polymath aka many-skilled, and many-skilled Lugh was (he was known to be a great musician, a healer, and craftsman, among other things.) The key here is both names grant the men a title that mark their skills!
Speaking of skills, next comes the resemblance of what can make or break any great, fictional warrior: their weapons and skillset. Both Luke and Lugh are known for their iconic weapons of choice: the lightsaber and the spear of Gorias, respectively. In Star Wars, lightsabers are essentially laser swords/spears that can cut through virtually anything, the use of which is greatly enhanced through skill with the force. The spear of Gorias is an invincible spear that represented fire/light (in some versions a sword, in some versions it can conjure a lightning bolt,) given to Lugh to help him defeat the Fomor in battle (like Luke’s lightsaber was given to him to defeat Vader, but more on that in a sec!) Additionally, both warriors are highly skilled in the magic of their mythologies, making them almost impossible to defeat.
And then, we have their origin stories: Luke Skywalker was raised by a foster family (that he thought, erroneously, were his aunt and uncle) to protect him from his (SPOILER!) father, the evil Darth Vader. Luke eventually goes on to defeat Vader in battle with his lightsaber. Lugh was also raised by foster parents, as a prophecy meant he had to be hidden away from his grandfather, the Fomor King Balor of the Evil Eye (Vader’s face isn’t looking all too good, either.) When Balor unjustly slew the Tuatha leader, Nuada of the Silver Hand, Lugh fulfilled the prophecy by killing his grandfather with a lightning bolt from his spear (though there’s many versions—even some with a slingshot.) Can’t be a coincidence!
Lastly, the governing philosophy of the Star Wars franchise mirrors Celtic mythology’s own main principles: duality and balance. Both collections of stories concentrate on good and bad, dark and light, birth and death, planting and harvest, and importance of keeping these things in harmony for the good of the universe. There’s no real moral ambiguity in any of these tales: there are good guys, and bad guys, and the good guys win (though, if either has a little more nuance it’s definitely Irish mythology—that was the basis of real, lived religion instead of a sci-fi/fantasy story, after all!)
Can you think of any Celtic tales that inspired modern media? Let us know in the comments below!
This post is part of a series. Read our last Irish mythology post, all about garden creature myths, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
SRL Core Values: Transparency
The next letter up in SRL core values of G.R.E.A.T.E.R. is T for Transparency! Transparency is the state of being transparent, or, for our purposes: 1) “characterized by visibility or accessibility of information, especially concerning business practices,” 2) “readily understood,” and 3) “free from pretense or deceit.” This three-pronged view of transparency in studio comes down to free, open, and honest communication, and, of course, complete authenticity—it’s what we promise as a business, and what we encourage in dialogue with the dancers we nurture.
We’ll admit it, we send a lot of emails. But what we’re always striving for is in our communication with our parents and dancers is complete transparency—information that can be both readily understood and completely accessible. We always want to make sure you have all the information you need for your dancer to fully participate in the vibrant Irish dance community in whatever capacity you choose—for fun and recreation, and/or on a more competitive plane. From our monthly announcements to our private community Facebook page, we try to give our parents as many resources as possible to always have the answer to any question they might have at their fingertips. And we’re always available to answer questions about our programs and business practices at email@example.com (Devon, our Office Manager) and firstname.lastname@example.org (Courtney, our Director) whenever you need!
But we also always strive for transparency when it comes to the more difficult subjects—like when a dancer is ready to advance levels, start hard shoe, or learn new steps. We always have clear objectives set out, along with accompanying expectations, and expected outcomes so dancers can see and understand when they’ve succeeded in those objectives and what needs to happen to help them reach those goals. Giving students a conscious understanding of how and why they learn and progress is proven to increase success in the classroom—something that extends to the dance studio, as well! This transparency empowers our dancers to see themselves as having the agency to enact their own transformations, as they’re given the tools and information necessary to know exactly what kind of hard work they need to put in to grow in their practice.
Being authentic with our dancers, i.e. having realistic and honest interactions with our dancers, also allows them to develop self-reflection and communication skills, abilities that will aid them outside of the studio—in school, in their interactions with others, and one day, in the work place. We view transparency and the resulting honesty to be a life skill that will help our dancers become leaders, rather than just one that will help them evolve as dancers. If you ask almost anyone one of the keys of being a good leader, transparency (i.e. communication to help understand the whole of a problem, promoting teamwork while encouraging individual voices) comes up again and again. SRL is a community built on authentic relationships—between teachers and dancers, dancers and their peers, and the studio with the parents.
Above all, transparency at SRL mean authenticity in who we are and what we believe—exactly why we write these blog posts! On the blog you’ll find plenty of fun (tons of fun facts about Ireland, for example!), but also information about Ireland’s culture, history, and mythology—not to mention all you need to know about Irish dance. Irish dance is more than an artistic sport, it’s also a cultural practice, living history, and a community. We’re here to let our dancers and their parents speak for themselves about their experiences, as well as spread the word about Irish dance’s benefits and history, valuing tradition while moving forward in transparency.
But there’s still two more letters in our core value acronym! See you next time for the second e in G.R.E.A.T.E.R.—E for the all-important trait of Enthusiasm!
This post is part of a series. Take a look at our last core values post, all about appreciation, here. Also: check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
Modern Ireland: Snack Foods
Nothing tells you more about a country than its unique and delicious snacks! From Australia’s fairy bread and Greece’s koulouri to Japan’s crazy-flavored Kit Kats and Scotland’s Irn-Bru, the world holds innumerable delicacies that you’ve never even heard of—including Ireland! Here’s five more snacks the Irish love (at least in some parts of the country):
To understand spice burgers, you first need to know what a chipper is—essentially, a little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall takeaway restaurant where the majority of things are deep-fried (remember: chips are fries!) The staple meal is fish and chips, but chippers offer a variety of options, including the ever-popular spice burger. These are made of ground beef (hence burger,) mixed with “onions, cereals, and herbs and spices, coated with a traditional outer crumb.” This isn’t served with a bun though, just as a patty alongside your chips. Spice burgers remain so popular that when Walshs, the inventor and main supplier of spice burgers, went out of business in 2009 due to the recession they were back in business within the year (the public outcry was just too loud!)
A classic candy in Irish memory, flying saucers get their name from their unique shape—they look, undeniably, like our imaginings of an alien spacecraft. Also called satellite wafers, the candy gained popularity during the Space Race of the 1960s, when they spread across the UK and Ireland from their Belgian origins. The candy itself comes in a variety of pastel colors per packet and is made of a crispy rice paper shell that melts in your mouth to reveal little sour-sweet beads inside. The interior is made of a candy called sherbet, a fizzy candy powder otherwise eaten with the aid of a lollipop—akin to Baby Bottle Pop or Fun Dip (but in its own container—so maybe more like Pixie Sticks, though don’t eat that paper!)
Many Irish people refer to this simple snack as a “delicacy”—it’s that beloved. And it’s exactly what it sounds like: chips aka crisps (preferably Tayto’s, and preferably Cheese and Onion flavor,) butter (Kerrygold is recommended,) and white sandwich bread (try Brennans if you can.) That’s it! Beyond the importance of the above ingredients, tips include: making sure the butter is soft so it doesn’t rip the bread, don’t add any fancy spices and herbs, and of course, make sure to make two—once you start, you’re going to want more. There are definitely personal variations out there, but for some things, simplicity is what makes it good (and crisp sandwiches are definitely one of those things.)
What’s always interesting is what flavors are most popular in different countries. While America loves its cherry and blue raspberry, Ireland tends to favor blackcurrant—as evidenced by their love of the juice drink Ribena. Technically a British import (it was invented in 1938 in England as a source of vitamin C for children during the war,) Ribena is flavored with the tart-sweetness of the blackcurrant berry and comes either carbonated or non-carbonated. Though it was originally advertised as a healthy option, it’s generally considered a soft drink these days due to its sugar levels. But if it’s so good, why don’t we have it here? Blackcurrants are a banned crop in the United States, as they can carry a fungus that kills pine trees!
Dulse and Yellowman
You may have thought a sandwich with just butter and potato chips was going to be the strangest snack on the list, but this regional treat takes that title! Dulse and Yellowman is the unexpected pairing of a purple seaweed called dulse that’s been dried into chewy chips and a type of toffee-like honeycomb called yellowman—reflecting its intense hue. This is a Northern Ireland specialty, as that’s where dulse is native to, where this salty-sweet snack has been sold for hundreds of years! It’s traditionally sold and eaten at the Auld Lammas Fair at the end of each August, held in Ballycastle, County Antrim—so this is definitely more of a special treat than an everyday snack!
Of course, thanks to the power of the internet, you can get essentially all these items here these days (yes, even dulse!)…and we know this made us hungry for a taste of Ireland. Happy snacking!
This post is part of a series. Read our last modern Ireland post, all about Munster Technological University, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
Modern Ireland: Uni Spotlight
Munster Technological University
We officially have the newest university on the list: MTU aka Munster Technological University, officially founded in 2021! But don’t let this school’s recent birthday fool you, this school’s six campuses in two different Munster-based cities have a wealth of education awaiting their students. An amalgamation of multiple (already existing) different technical and specialty schools, MTU has a student body of approximately 18,000 students supported by over 2,000 staff members, in more than 140 courses and programs!
All located in the southwest of Ireland, the majority of the student body resides in the 4 campuses located in Cork—the second largest city in the country. Cork is known as the culinary center of Ireland (make sure your student checks out the English Market—the oldest and longest running food market in Europe,) and is compact enough for students to navigate without trouble. It also hugs Ireland’s coast—making the weather more temperate and the views unmistakable! If your student’s studies take them to MTU’s other two campuses, located in coastal, pastoral Kerry, they’re in for a special 4 years. Kerry’s known for its stunning natural beauty (from the Ring of Kerry to the Skellig Islands,) and is also home to Ireland’s oldest traditional fair (the Puck Fair)—there’s a reason County Kerry is Ireland’s most popular tourist region. On top of that, both areas are known for their lively arts scenes!
Technological schools have the reputation of concentrating on STEM-subjects only, but MTU has opened its doors and mind to a wider range of subjects. While you’ll certainly find Business, Engineering, Science, Nursing, and Computing (along with tech-focuses, more specific subjects in STEM like Pharma and Agri-Food,) the school is also known for its stellar courses in Tourism, Humanities, and Arts and Music (among so many more!) MTU has more than 120 college partnerships worldwide to make sure their students are able to expand their education in whatever direction their studies take them. Students are encouraged to partake in multidisciplinary research and study, only augmented by small class sizes and the university’s acclaimed “ladder” structure that helps students progress through different levels of accreditation and qualification in their chosen field.
However, MTU’s pride and joy is its focus on maintaining close links to a multitude of industries, operating a vibrant innovation center that encourages entrepreneurial spirit that helps launch startups! Don’t have a company idea? That’s okay—there’s six research centers in any discipline you can imagine (and open to new ideas!) and a wealth of internships to be had through MTU’s industry-connections. The emphasis throughout a student’s time at MTU is on learning through practical application so students have the education and necessary skill set to thrive in our current, tech-driven economy. There’s a reason that when they were called CIT (Cork Institute of Technology,) they were the Sunday Times’s “Institute of Technology of the Year” 3 times! (Including in 2021!)
Student life at MTU (both campus locations!) is a rich one—and not just because of the incredible locations. Beyond the newly renovated sports complex on the Cork campus, there are over 100 clubs and societies available to join, and a ton of resources for international students! 10% of the students in the city of Cork are international, so there’s a thriving ex-pat community. And unlike many Irish institutions, there’s even an office to help students find accommodations—MTU is definitely a school looking out for its learners!
But there’s one more technological uni left in Ireland to explore—join us next time for a trip to the Midlands!
This post is part of a series. Read our last modern Ireland post, all about Technological University Dublin, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
Read our last ten fun facts here.
1. Newgrange, an exceptionally large and well-preserved grand passage tomb built by prehistoric farmers, is 5,200 years old (having been built around 3200 BC.) Located in County Meath, near the River Boyne, this monument is older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge!
2. While there’s a long-standing a negative stereotypes about Irish aggression (due in largely to The Troubles,) Ireland’s real legacy is that of peaceful protest. Daniel O’Connell, an Irish nationalist and revolutionary, didn’t want to repeat the violent upheavals France had suffered and instead advocated for nonviolent measures during his successful Catholic Emancipation movement in the first half of the 19th century (leading the way for Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.)
3. Currently, 17% of people living in Ireland are of foreign birth. 46% of these new inhabitants arrived in just the last 5 years, putting Ireland far ahead of most OCED countries (with a 22% average.) This is a steep increase is likely due to Ireland joining the EU as 20 years ago that number was only 2%!
4. The President of Ireland plays a slightly different role than ours (beyond the fact that while he’s elected by the people, he serves a 7-year term!) While he has certain powers, the actual head of government is the Taoiseach (Ireland’s Prime Minister)—a person appointed by the president!
5. Speaking of presidents, 23 out of the 46 presidents the United States has had since its founding have at least some Irish ancestry. And that includes 6 of the last 7—Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton, Obama, and Biden! (Though JFK’s the president we think of when we think Irish!)
6. On the flip side, Ireland has the highest net emigration level in Europe, with approximately 1 in 6 people over the age of 15 living abroad. That’s about 17.5% of the population!
7. The first potato planted in Ireland (which, despite them being an Irish staple now, didn’t happen until 1589) was planted in Cork by Sir Walter Raleigh (yes, that guy from Disney’s Pocahontas--though that was a pretty skewed version!) The potato isn’t native to Europe, but rather, Peru!
8. Dublin was founded by Vikings—not once, but twice. First, in 841 AD, and then again in 917 (Scandinavian settlers were briefly expelled in 902, but they came back.) It stuck the second time, becoming an extremely wealthy port city that’s remained the hub of Ireland’s political life ever since!
9. But modern Dublin is considered Europe’s answer to the U.S.’s Silicon Valley—in the last 20 years, the city has become the European base to some of the largest tech companies in the world. This largely has to do with the fact it’s considered a tax haven for large companies, leading Google, Etsy, and Facebook, among others, to land there.
10. There’s no direct translation of the words “yes” or “no” in Irish (aka Irish Gaelic or Gaeilge.) While this sounds impossible to English-speakers, it just means the Irish need to use a few extra words in order to reply with the negative or positive. (I.e. If you ask “Would you like…?” in Irish, you could respond: Ba mhaith liom i.e. “I would like…”)
This post is part of a series. Read our last fun facts post here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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