November 5th, 2013: Fulbrighter Anne Driscoll's Travelogue

I arrived two months ago today in Dublin. And since then, I discovered about myself that I love Love/Hate – the Irish gangland TV series, all the swans that grace the canal outside my deck, and Irish brown bread.

In the last month, I was on TV3 Ireland AM to discuss the Irish Innocence Project, I was ridden around the streets of Dublin on the back of a bicycle, I went to a production of James Joyce’s The Dead in the house where it was set and moved about the rooms with the 19 actors as if I was part of the party scene and dinner, not part of the audience.

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I stayed up until 4 a.m. chatting with two friends and it didn’t seem weird or foolish – even after it turned into a pajama party, I made a beautiful beet salad and I rowed with my currach teammates and escorted the SS Hare down the Liffey during a reenactment of the delivery of food to the starving strikers during the 1913 lockout as people cheered from the banks and marching bands played (it was a 10 mile row).

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At work, it was a month of firsts: I helped begin plans for the first ever film festival devoted to wrongful convictions, forge a partnership with an American woman and Irish man both exonerated from death row for killing two cops, now married, living in Galway and hosts to the first ever sanctuary for exonorees and expand the Irish Innocence Project to include the first journalism student.

I hosted a dinner party for my teammates and served lunch to a friend and the toddler she babysits, and at the suggestion of the “chemist”, I cured my infected thumb with a magnesium sulfate paste. I sang my first “party piece” Mercedes Benz, joked and bantered with a Supreme Court Justice, and went to a costume party dressed up like one of The Dubliners wearing a beard and men’s trousers, shirt and tie.

I celebrated Samhain, the Celtic Halloween – when it’s believed the membrane between this world and the next is the thinnest – by watching Mummers perform onstage at an Irish Folklore Center benefit and listening to stories about fairy forts and ghostly black pigs told in Irish and English.

In the same day, I climbed the 1250 foot Spinc ridge and the 800 foot Bray Head. The day before that I biked 25K through Phoenix Park and along the Royal Canal during gale force winds.

I have met a meterologist who cares little about the weather (if it rains, wear a raincoat and, anyway, you’ll dry eventually) but is devoted to yoga, a quarryman who admires my legs and the only state pathologist in all of Ireland.

I understand now that conversation is a currency here more valuable than money and that every conversation – whether it be at a business meeting or in a pub – is laced with wit, humor and fun.

I am lost to a culture that loves storytelling as much as I do. I am lost to Ireland. That is to say, I love Ireland.

I have 7 1/2 months of this adventure to go.