Off on an adventure….

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Right at this very moment, I am sitting on my bed in Leeds in the UK and it is here I will be spending the next 3 months. As part of my course, we are all sent off to study abroad for a semester. It is an amazing chance to meet new people, experience a new culture but best of all, it is a chance to grow as a person.

Teaching begins next week so I am really looking forward to starting my classes. I have taken one English Literature module and two creative writing modules. I am really looking forward to trying out creative writing at academic level as I have never had any formal classes in creative writing before.

I went into the city centre yesterday and I must say, it is a sight to be seen. I don’t think I have ever seen so many shops in my life! The buildings are all very beautiful and the bustling crowds make for a great atmosphere. I am sure I will explore further when I get a chance.

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Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end….

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If there is any concept in life that I just cannot get my head around, the concept of time baffles me day after day. How is it that 60 minutes chatting to a friend seems to last no longer than 10 minutes and a journey to Waterford city, which is equally 60 minutes drags on for what seems like 4 hours? The mind boggles.

This week in my Renaissance literature module we are looking at Shakespeare’s sonnets. I studied a selection of the sonnets for my Leaving Cert and without a doubt; my favourite sonnet from that selection is Sonnet 60.

SONNET 60

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end;

Each changing place with that which goes before,

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

 

Nativity, once in the main of light,

Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d,

Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight,

And Time, that gave, doth now his gift confound.

 

Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,

And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,

Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,

And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.

 

And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,

Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

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Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory.

This poem makes the point that time just keeps on rolling regardless of our personal situations. We have absolutely no control over time and we never will despite all our futile efforts. It is interesting to look at how we use the word time in language. We try to make time a tactile thing, something we can possess, gain and lose. Clearly, the lack of power over time does not sit well with us as a species. “I should get it sorted tonight if I find the time”, “I got there ahead of time”, “Don’t be wasting time”.

Time is a precious thing, we are always grasping for a few spare seconds and we know that ultimately when we approach the finish line of life we could regret that we did not use time wisely throughout our lives. It’s a tricky business for certain sure. They say we should live in the here and now, yet without a plan our lives would be a mess. There is a time and a place for everything in our lives and we need to respect that. Rush when necessary but don’t get caught up in the rush. Spend time with family and friends but don’t put your life on hold for others. Don’t sit around and wait for your life to just fall into place with no effort on your part. Be productive with your time, learn to balance leisure and work.

As the poem says, nothing lasts for ever. Enjoy every moment for what it is and make your mark on the world. leave something that people can remember you by. Looking at the final lines of the poem I hope that my own writing will live on after I have left this world. Who knows what will happen.

Only Time Will Tell.

On The Road With Brideview Drama

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It’s that time of year again when over thirty amateur drama groups travel the length and breath of Ireland in desperate search for a precious ticket to Athlone. The RTE All-Ireland Drama Final are held in Athlone each year in April and only the top 9 groups on the ADCI leaderboard get the chance to thread those boards.

Hailing from Tallow in West Waterford, Brideview Drama are currently in the thick of it all with four results already in and four results remaining. A mixture of nerves and excitement inhabit our stomachs. As the secretary of Brideview and the operator of the sound for each performance with the past 5 years, each February and March my body is overtaken by the drama bug.

This year we are performing ’13 Rue De L’Amour’ which is a Feydeu farce translated by Mauby Green and Ed Feilbert. My father Jack Aherne had tapped into his imaginitve directing skills yet again and my mother, Helen graces the stage with her hilarious portrayel of Madame Spritzer the German Countess.

The fantastic cast and crew have already bagged a second place and two thirds but with Best Play awards as scarce as golddust the road to Athlone has a few diversions for Brideview yet. However, it’s all to play for and every group who has not yet completly secured a place will be hanging on tenderhooks until all the results and in.

The fun and laughter that goes with travelling Ireland’s am-dram three act circuit is what makes it all worth it. As with many hobbies, it’s like stepping into another world for two months. There is almost nothing else on my brain 24/7 only drama drama drama. As a student in UL I am missing the daily dinner table discussions at home about who won where last night etc. but with regular updates via phone I am never out of the loop.

We will travel to Holycross, Co.Tipperary tomorrow and moving onto Scariff, Co.Clare on Thursday with all fingers and toes crossed. Regardless of whether we make it to Dean Crowe or not, the fun we’ve had on the circuit this year and the feeling of camaraderie within the group is worth it’s weight in diamonds and I feel very lucky to be a part of it.

Flashblack

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Only twelve short months ago, I was stressed, exhausted, anxious yet calm as I sat my pre Leaving Cert exams. The pres are the ultimate test considering it is physically impossible to have all the course in every subject covered by February, yet you will be tested on it regardless. With a few blatant hints from apprehensive teachers and hours of urgent cramming we struggled though the pre exams. 

Then the waiting commences. Every plastic covered package that arrives to the staff room sets alight a fluster of rumors “Did ya hear?? We’re getting our English back today!!” Yet, despite the convincing words echoed through the corridors at lunch time, there would be no plastic covered package on the English teachers desk that afternoon. This ridiculous episode repeats daily for a solid two weeks until finally all results have returned.

Next comes the exceptions and excuses. The reason why you got those grades – good, bad or indifferent. You will,no doubt, hear that the correctors are paid merely one euro per paper and have used the red biro too much or too little (depending on you own personal case). It may be in fact a good “wake up call” for those not working hard enough. If you got an A1 or A2 in a particular subject you may get the word of warning – “Don’t become complacent!”. 

In the end, they generally give you a good indication of how you will get on when D-Day arrives and it’s well worth trying your best. For exam timing and realising the severity of Leaving Cert exam pressure, there is no better practice session. 

If I were to give advice, I would say – stay calm. If your stuck on a question don’t focus on it, mark it and come back to it later (your subconscious is a genius). Attempt everything even if you know you are wrong, there’s nothing to lose. Don’t get too stressed. Even if you know every piece of information you could possible know, if you get yourself in a tizzy you won’t be able to see the woods from the trees and what a shame that would be. When you get the results back, don’t leave them knock your confidence and don’t let them give you false confidence, just keep slogging away up until your first Leaving Cert exam. 

Best of luck to all! 

Emily 

Group Work – Yay or Nay?

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As soon as I hear the phrase ‘group work’ I usually have the same automatic reaction – “Oh no!”. As a pernickety perfectionist when it comes to academic work, always trying my best at the work I do, I feel relatively powerless as a member of a group. I know that I will have zero control over the work done by the other members of the group which sometimes makes me feel like a fish out of water. Considering this, I often find it difficult to completely engage with the project and immerse myself in it. 

My reaction this time was no different when we were first briefed about the group project. However, things soon changed for the better. The ‘Tweasure Hunt’ was the first time our group properly met and it really helped us too get to know each other. From that first meeting I knew that I would work well with this group of people. We all got on well from the outset and what really put me at ease was that I could see that each individual in the group had initiative. 

Our first group meeting was on the 8th of October, when it was suggested that we travel into town. However, considering we weren’t fully sure where the plaque even was we decided to go to the library instead and begin our research. We found a very useful book written by J.B. Lyons called ‘What Did I Die of? The Deaths of Parnell, Wilde, Synge & Other Literary Pathologies’. This book gave us the background off Sylvester O’Halloran’s life. I decided that I would take the role of reading the relevant chapter and would prepare the material for that section of the wiki. 

Then Paul set up a google doc so that we could share our material and easily transfer pictures etc. We then started a group chat on facebook, which we used to arrange meetings and to discuss our progress. This worked very well as every message was seen by all group members and it was also useful for linking websites and uploading pictures. 

We all met briefly every week at our tutorial on a Tuesday evening which was useful for making plans and discussing what needed to be done. We all worked very well together and regularly communicated.

Claire, who lives in Limerick, took on the role of designated photographer and was also our guide on the day we all traveled into Limerick city. Jack said he would be happy to be the wiki creator along with help from Paul. This method worked well as information was never duplicated on the wiki for example as Jack was the main wiki editor. He took the information from the google doc which we had all contributed to and put it up on the wiki. 

There was great sense of team spirit and camaraderie in our group and it was great to be a part of it. I have completely changed my view of group work as a result and I look forward to working in groups in the future as I have learnt the skills necessary to work well as a group member. 

The Futile Search for the Sylvester O’Halloran Plaque

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It was a pleasant Friday evening when our Digital Media group made the short journey into Limerick city and set out on finding the green plaque which was in honour of Sylvester O’Halloran whom we had done quite a but of research on. We arrived at the point marked ‘x’ on our map which was supposed to be the precise location of the plaque, however, our faces dropped simultaneously as we were faced with a blank wall. After looking around the immediate vicinity quite a few times to no avail, I was dumbfounded. “Now what are we supposed to do?” I thought to myself. Luckily one of our group members Claire Leo is from Limerick city and she suggested we go to the council reception to see if they could help us. So on we trotted, and in we went, only to discover that they had taken the plaque down because they are replacing it with a new one in the coming weeks.

So there we were, with a group project entirely based around the Sylvester O’Halloran green plaque and there was no plaque to be found. So, we did the next best thing and visited a few places associated with O’Halloran within Limerick city (good thing we had done our research first).

Sylvester is said to have climbed to top of the steeple of St.Mary’s Cathedral, which seems like an eccentric sort of thing to do, but none the less it was associated with him so we visited it. We also found a plaque of some sort there and considering we were lacking the essential green plaque we thought we may as well take a photo of it.

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And so we traveled onward towards Barrington’s hospital, another establishment associated with O’Halloran.

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I suppose that little mishap was very true to life, considering things don’t always go smoothly and it is important to be be able to think on your feet and come up with an alternative.The fact that the plaque had been taken down certainly made things difficult for us but we did the best we could considering the situation we found ourselves in.  In an effort to make up for the lack of photograph’s etc we did quite a bit of background research on O’Halloran himself which I found quite interesting. Here is the finshed product – Sylvester O’Halloran green plaque wiki page.

“Tweasure Hunt”

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As part of our Introduction to Digital Media module in New Media and English, we were sent on a treasure hunt with a difference. Equipped with a crude map of the UL campus and a list of clues from 1-11, my group members and I set out on our expedition.

The aim of the Tweasure Hunt was to find the set points of interest with the aid of the clues, as normal, then take a photo of the sign at that point and upload it to twitter adding the hashtag for our class #ixdm13.

Being familiar with Twitter previous to the module, the uploading of photos and hashtagging was not a new phenomenon to me, although it may have been alien to some. With that said, it was a fun way to familiarize ourselves with Twitter and it’s capabilities while getting to visit random points of interest on campus which we may never have reason to discover otherwise.

My favourite thing about the Tweasure Hunt was the fact that it was a device to get to know the other members of my group without the usual social awkwardness and protracted silences which occur when meeting a new group of people for the first time. We had a shared focus and therefore we had an obvious talking point allowing us to  break the ice between us without even realising it.

Although some of the signs disappeared mysteriously and there was, in fact, no treasure to be found at all, it was good fun and an interesting idea. Also, with silly pictures being a forte of mine, the twitpics suited me down to the ground as you can see for yourself!!  🙂

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