The Spirit of Dublin is On Fire

By Amirah Orozco

I vividly remember the moment I opened up the email with the approval to attend Trinity College for my junior year or third year. Being given the opportunity to attend Trinity College will always be a dream come true. One of Dublin’s most popular tourist attractions, Trinity College’s beautiful architecture is hardly rivalled. Established in 1592, the walls have stood tall and steady for much of Irish history. The classrooms have seen the likes of Mary Robinson, Oscar Wilde, and even One Direction’s token Irishman, Niall Horan. While I was certain about Trinity College, I naïvely never even considered the experience of living in Dublin. It is now, one month into my experience, the one thing I would cite as having the greatest impact on my time here. While the small island of Ireland is only the size of Indiana, Dublin’s unique historical situation makes it a cosmopolitan centre unlike any other.

The home of the Oireachtas, or Irish legislature (including its President), and the Taoiseach, or Irish Prime Minister, Dublin is at the centre of much of political debate in Ireland. From arguments on the 8th amendment of the Constitution to funding for education, I have stumbled upon many large demonstrations I knew little to nothing about before.

Coming from the United States, I am no stranger to an active democracy and especially not with the recent election of such a controversial figure as President Donald Trump. In Boston, I was proud to be a part of activist communities that continue to fight for what they believe in. From joining the ranks of political campaigns to doing press relations for doctors fighting for reformed healthcare, much of my life was centred around activism for at least my entire time in college. It has therefore been an invaluable experience to come to Dublin and be able to witness, this time from the outside, the immense amount of social and political activism the Irish take part in every day.

It has been a striking feature of Irish culture for much of history how determined the people can be to fight back against rules they disagree with. On one of the first days of my International Relations class, a fellow student, seemingly storing a bullhorn in his backpack the whole of the class, jumped up right after the professor finished his lecture to announce that a protest would be held in Trinity’s Front Square. Moreover, and this was the part that caught my attention and should catch most Americans’ attention, all lectures were cancelled during the demonstration! (I had no lectures during this time slot so I did not benefit from this.)

The Trinity Student Union president led the large group of students out the front gate as they chanted things like “Hey hey ho ho, we say no to student loans!” (You can imagine, as an American, how startling it was to learn that Irish students have mostly avoided crippling debt post-higher education.) They were met at the front gate of Trinity by hundreds, if not thousands, of students from all over Dublin. Carrying signs indicating where they hailed from, they followed the pack of Trinity students on a walk around Dublin.

Demonstration - Orozco

Days later, protesters dressed up as women from Handmaid’s Tale lined up in front of the government buildings to express their strong opposition to a ban on abortion under any circumstances. While I did not see it, in an attempt to inform myself on all the symbolism, I took to Twitter. I retweeted a woman I had met previously who is the secretary of what is called the Repeal movement because they want a repeal of the 8th amendment of the constitution.

Dublin is in and of itself a busy city with cafés, shops, and historical buildings lining its main streets. But in this political turning point for the entire world, Dublin is an especially exciting place to be. A hub of political activism, I am so grateful to not only be studying alongside the people who will determine the future of this lively country but also to be witnessing it unfold before my eyes.

The spirit of Dublin and its people as a collective burn.

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