Berkshire Go Bragh!
For one week in mid-June, a few lucky Bears left the mountains of Western Massachusetts behind in exchange for a week on the Emerald Isle. The Berkshire Taconic Foundation sent a small group of rising seniors on a week-long excursion called Experiencing Bloomsday. This trip across the pond gave students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the cultural, spiritual, and literary history of Ireland through the lens of literary great James Joyce, culminating in a celebration of Bloomsday on June 16th in the most appropriate of settings: Dublin, Ireland.
The trip centered on Joyce’s work and his powerful observations of life in Dublin, and Ireland as a whole. Trinity College, located in the heart of Dublin, was home for the week, and from there the group visited a number of Joycean locations within the city’s bounds. Leading the way as our host and guide was Kevin O’Halloran, retired assistant headmaster of Westland Row School and a Joyce scholar. With Berkshire faculty chaperones Mr. and Mrs. O’Rourke and Mr. Cronin, Mr. O’Halloran took the group on a whirlwind tour of the city’s landmarks, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the James Joyce Centre, the Irish Writers’ Museum, and the Dail, the Irish Parliament. The group also visited the mountains of Wicklow and Wexford in the south (home to Mrs. O’Rourke’s ancestors), where the group visited Clongowes Woods College and stopped off at Glasnevin Cemetary. Finally, the trip culminated with a celebration of Bloomsday, a number of Joyce-related activities and festivities around Dublin for the group to participate in and enjoy.
Click here to read the group's blog and view pictures from the trip.
Click here to view a slide show from the trip.
The journey really began back in late March, when interested Fifth Formers were asked to read the short story “Eveline” from Joyce’s Dubliners, and compare in an essay their aspirations for travelling to Ireland with Eveline’s hesitance to leave. Typically, a group of six is chosen based on their essay responses, and this year’s applicants—Christina Cohen, Anna Driscoll, Eliza Farley, Alex Fuller, Swetha Kodali, Maddie Maher, Lan Nguyen, and Ellie Rochman—all submitted thoughtful and passionate pieces. Many embraced the challenge of something new and uncomfortable, citing change as being “vital to [providing] and [prolonging] happiness,” and acknowledging that “a new environment and new experiences bring knowledge into [our lives].” A number of essayists yearned to travel more, or simply to begin travelling, and expressed a desire “to actually wander the streets of foreign cities, test my language skills, taste the exotic food, or see the scenery with my own eyes.” After struggling to choose six out of the pool of applicants, the Berkshire Taconic Foundation was kind enough to grant all eight applicants the chance to go on this unique trip.
-- Will Cronin, English teacher and trip chaperone