Monday, November 1, 2010

Graduation Day - in a Historic and Literary Dublin Landmark

At last - a proud moment!

Martin with his proud parents!
Yesterday we went to Dublin for middle son Martin's Graduation - he has just finished his Master's Degree in Professional Design Practice in DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) which is a follow on from his BA in Graphic Design in Cork. This was his third grad conferral after two BAs in CIT (Cork Institute of Technology) - Ordinary after 3 years and then the Honours one a year later. We were saying he could become a serial graduate and go on for a few more or at least a PhD! I don't think that's on the cards for the present.

Ghosts of the past in DIT Aungier St.
It's our second Graduation in two months - our youngest son William graduated from the University of Limerick in August with a BA in Phys. Education and Geography teaching and that didn't get a blogpost simply because we came straight home and went to Saffron in Lismore for a nice Indian meal to mark the occasion. UL is a modern campus without much historic interest and certainly the venue didn't excite me as much as the Dublin one did - and we didn't take in the delights of Limerick on the day either! He's in some photos here too.

This ceremony took place in St. Patrick's Cathedral in the heart of old Viking Dublin. The church dates back to St. Patrick but the building dates back to 1192. DIT use it as a venue for their graduation ceremonies which makes sense as they don't have a single campus - rather they are scattered around the city with their different faculties in the old Technology Colleges - Bolton Street was Martin's college for the MA year, and that was the old Bolton St. Tech.

The Cathedral was packed with the graduates from a number of courses and their families and it was a majestic setting for such a traditional and ancient ceremony. The only downside compared to more conventional venues like the University of Limerick Concert Hall where we had youngest son's Conferral in August is that the view isn't the best. Like any church, depending on where you're seated, the view can be good or mediocre - or downright bad if it's obstructed. We were not too bad but the dim light made photos quite a challenge and we got none of the actual parchment ceremony - and could only see it on the TV screens strategically placed around the Cathedral.
DIT Aungier St./Old Jacob's Factory

Walking through the Cathedral afterwards gave us a chance to play tourist for a bit - I am a tad embarrassed that I have never visited the place despite living in the city for all my student years and intermittently over the following 20+ years. So I got quite a buzz seeing the ancient monuments and the links with the great and the good of Dublin - Jonathan Swift of Gulliver's Travels fame is its most famous incumbent - as Dean of St. Patrick's he achieved fame when he wrote that great satire about a traveller in the land of  tiny Lilliputians and gigantic Brobdingnagians that is still popular today.
Seasonal Pumpkin Soup

Douglas Hyde is commemorated in a plaque - first President of Ireland whose funeral was held in the Cathedral. It's ironic that most of his government were barred from going to his funeral service as Catholics were forbidden to attend Protestant services until the 1960s! Erskine Childers, the fourth President of Ireland  (I used my vote first time ever to vote for him!) also had his funeral here and his daughter Nessa Childers is a Labour MEP.
Prawn Sandwich with Chips

I was delighted to see there was a Lismore link too - the huge Boyle Monument was erected by Lismore Castle's erstwhile owner, Richard Boyle, the Earl of Cork, as a tribute and memorial to his wife and 15 children. He bought Lismore Castle from Sir Walter Raleigh when the latter was in prison for high treason. He was the father of Robert Boyle, the scientist of "Boyle's Law" fame,  who was born in the Castle. I'll pass on the aesthetics of the monument - suffice to say it probably reflects the man's ego and ye olde Englishe certainly poses a challenge and makes you wonder about languages' evolution.

Martin and his classmates before the graduation
Yesterday's post-graduation reception was held in Augier Street at their campus in the old Jacob's Biscuit factory - famed for its role in the 1916 Easter Rising - and it was nice to see the name etched in a low wall to commemorate its earlier incarnation. It's a lovely building with a touch of the biscuit barrel on the facade from the courtyard - hardly surprising given its provenance as the home of our favourite biccies. Nostalgia emanated from every corner and I could nearly taste the Fig Rolls, Cream Crackers and the holy trinity of Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Cream. These all whisk me back to childhood memories with their radio and black-and-white TV ads etched forever on my brain.

Main Altar in St. Patrick's Cathedral
We had the requisite official photos taken after the ceremony and afterwards we went for a lovely lunch to the Radisson Blu hotel in Golden Lane, around the corner from the campus. After all the queuing  for photos and the chatting and picture-taking in the courtyard of the college there wasn't a cuppa left at the reception, and it was nice to have lunch with Martin before he headed out with his friends for the evening celebrating.  For lunch I had yummy Pumpkin Soup - very seasonal for Hallowe'en weekend - and a delicious prawn sandwich on brown bread with rocket and chips/fries. I felt positively hedonistic given the doom-laden times we're in and the budget from hell looming - perhaps it's time we had a Marie Antoinette moment and indulged ourselves with treats for a lift! 

St.Patrick's Cathedral during Ceremony

Father and Son with that parchment!

With the proud parents on campus DIT

William and his proud parents in UL Aug. 2010

We left him back in Drumcondra to get ready for the night on the town. I believe they started with a 3-D football match in their local near Bolton St., the Woolshed Baa and Grill - an Aussie-themed place with a nice twist in the title!
Going home we took the new M9 to Waterford as a change from the M8 to Cork - they've just bypassed every town between Naas and Waterford and thanks to having had a Minister (Martin Cullen recently retired) from Waterford they got away with a toll-free ride all the way. There's a toll on the wonderful new bypass cable bridge over the River Suir that divides Kilkenny and Waterford - and the locals wit and hurling rivalry is reflected in the nicknames it has to date - they call it the Cat Flap in Waterford (homage to Kilkenny cats, an age-old name for the people from that county) and in Kilkenny they dub it the Liam McCarthy after the All-Ireland Hurling Cup which always bypasses Waterford on its way to Kilkenny - even though they didn't get their 5-in-a-row this year - Tipperary beat them in Croke Park last month.

Cable Bridge on River Suir in Waterford (the Cat Flap)
William's Graduation in UL August 2010
Autumn on the M9 to Waterford
There wasn't  much time-saving in the new route but the scenery was nicer - the Wicklow mountains and Mount Leinster were on our left and the autumn colours in the trees and fields were rich in the low setting sun.

Times like this and you get a respite from the relentless misery on the airwaves and celebrate the important things in life - family, children's achievements and the opportunity to spend time together while the kids are still around.

The way the country's going with no work for new grads like two of our sons, there's every chance they'll be forced into emigration - a far cry from the voluntary exile I chose in my youth when I wanted adventure in a pre-Gap Year era, combined with some saving-the-world altruism.

Fast forward a few decades and little did I know then what would be coming down the tracks  - we're very lucky in so many ways and have to keep that perspective in view - I hope we'll weather the storm and come out the other side despite the prophets of doom.


Rudee said...

Congratulations to your son!

The scenery looks absolutely beautiful. Even if it was the long way home, I think I'd take the scenic route any day.

talesfromagarden said...

Congratulations to both sons on great achievements!

Ann said...

Congratulations to both Martin and William. The lunch looks mouth wateringly delicious too. Here's to your Marie Antoinette moment!

My Dad went to Bolton Street.

Lily said...

Catherine, your son Martin is the image of you in the photographs. Congratulations all round - to the sons but also too to the parents.

Pooch Purple Reign said...

wow... cheers to both sons. great post. i had the chance to see some of the viking area while in dublin....very cool. nice to see inside st patricks cathedral too

Brownieville Girl said...

Well done getting them both to this stage!!

Lunch looks great!

At Home on the Rock... said...

Congratulations to all of you!

Beautiful pictures too --- the Cathedrals -- Wow!

Catherine said...

Thanks for all the kind comments folks!

Yes Rudee the scenery was lovely and the autumn gold was beautiful. The weather is not too great now and that was the last sunny day we've had.

Kathleen - thanks - we are very proud of the boys, they worked very hard to get to this level.

Ann - what a coincidence your dad going to Bolton St! I remember when it was the Tech as I used to cycle past it almost every day en route to and from Drumcondra and work in Jervis St or the Richmond - when I was doing agency.

Lily - that's the first time someone's found Martin taking after me - the boys are all supposed to be more like Jan - all ginger bar Shayne who's blondy but v. like the Dutch side of the family. Maeve's supposed to be the spit of me - she's seriously underwhelmed by that mind you - at 14 I guess I would be too!

Laura - that's nice that you saw some of Viking Dublin - there's a lot of history there and I remember the controversy over Wood Quay when the Dublin Council building was plonked on the site of a major viking dig. But that's the govt for you - they trample roughshod over our history and don't make any effort at preserving our ancient sites except by record. The building on the site is exceptionally ugly too!
The Cathedral is fabulous and well maintained, as is Christchurch - the one at the top of the hill overlooking the river.

Brownieville girl - thanks a lot - great to see the boys getting to this stage indeed and then the oldest one is gone back to education too in between raising their daughter! So it's all go. Junior cert daughter is least motivated now and is not too happy with me for signing her up to supervised study!

Linda - thanks a lot - the Cathedral is very historic and beautiful when you think how old it is - over 800 years old and then Christchurch is as ancient as are so many more in Ireland - dating back even further in our own town. Not the original building but the icons and stone carvings and tombstone figures go back to the 7th century!

All the best and call again!

Brownieville Girl said...

Catherine - I'm living with an unmotivated Junior certer too!!!!!

Padraic Murray said...

I say congratulations to the parents!!!
Love from Tenerife. I don't miss the Irish weather, but I sure miss the people!! Well done sons as well! Hasta pronto. P.

Janet said...

Your post is making me homesick for Dublin. I've been to several conferrals in Trinity and UCD - all memorable occasions.

Hanaâ said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog :o)

Congratulations on your sons' accomplishments. You must be so proud!! The pictures you posted of the area are just beautiful.

Winifred said...

Congratulations to them and to you for supporting them through their higher education journey.

I hope they don't have to go too far from home to find jobs and i'm sure they'll be back even if they have to move away.

The new road must be great. It's years since we were in Waterford, Kilkenny & Killarney. Must go back before too long.