Saturday, May 16, 2009


On Friday several students took advantage of the opportunity we had to visit Beaumont Hospital and the Irish Nurses Organization, both in Dublin. Susan Hawshaw, RN reviewed the health care delivery system in Ireland(operated and funded by the government) and then shared with us information about Beaumont Hospital. It is a 600 plus bed hospital and is a regional and national center for excellence for several disciplines. Susan shared with us the difficulties of the health care delivery system in Ireland, financing and waiting lists being the top two problems. She spoke of the 50 patients waiting in the emergency room for a bed, and the efforts of the physicians to discharge patients to be able to accomodate the "backlog".

Two main factors seem to contribute to the waiting lists: lack of long term care and lack of high tech home care services. Many beds in hosptals are filled with the elderly waiting for placement. There are very few nursing homes in Ireland. They are also working to develop more home care services. For example, home IV therapy is not currently available here. Average length of stay in Beaumont Hospital is over 10 days. That is more than double what we would expect to see in the U.S.

We then visited the Irish Nurses Organization (INO). Philip McAnenly RN (Industrial Relations Officer) and two students shared with us the workings of the organization as it advocates for nurses and patients in this system. This organization represents nurses throughout Ireland, although membership is optional. Many issues were presented. One student commented that both organizations strive for the same thing...the best health care and good working conditions for those working in health care. The perspectives were a bit different, but the goals the same.
The Irish health care delivery system has many of the same problems we are experiencing...staffing, financial difficulties, quality of care, access for all.... It is very interesting to compare and contrast the two systems.

Saturday has been spent finishing up last minute shopping and packing (or shopping for more suitcases for packing).

We will be returning to Elmira College Sunday. Many of you will receive phone calls as we land at JFK. Our flight is scheduled to leave Ireland at 10:30 am. That puts us in NYC around 11:30 am (MAGIC!). We don't know how long it will take to get through Customs, get to our bus, traverse the Cross Bronx Expressway and George Washington Bridge to get to interstates 80 and then home. We will try to post more pictures later this week.

Thanks to Laura Marsh for being the IT consultant and getting pictures and albums posted. We hope you have enjoyed sharing our journey around the Emerald Isle. Students will present their perspectives of the trip this week in class in powerpoint presentations and papers. It should be interesting. It has been quite a learning experience. We have all learned a great deal more about Ireland.

Slan abhaile!


Today we began our journey back to Dublin. We visited the site of the Battle of the Boyne fought on July 1, 1690. William of Orange was successful in defeating the Catholic King James (???), maintaining British rule in Northern Ireland. It was interesting to view the war strategy via a simulated light show.

We then visited Newgrange in Meath, passage tombs built between 3300 and 2900 BC. These structures are older than the Giza pyramids and Stonehenge. The "technology" used to build these structures was incredible. It is amazing to think of the work of humans that many years ago. We all had the opportunity to go into the structure and experience a simulation of the light shining in only during the winter solstice. Amazing!


We started the day in a very somber fashion by visiting the memorial to those who died on January 30, 1972, Bloody Sunday. On this day 13 people were killed by British troops in Derry. The 14th person died later from injuries. Peace murals at the end of buildings depict the Troubles.... Annette McGavigan, a 14 year old girl gunned down in 1971 on her way to the pool (the soldier said it was thought that the towel over her shoulder was a bomb). Several other murals can be seen in the albums depicting Bernadette Devlin and Bobby Sands. Another memorial recognized those who died in hunger strikes in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. We noted some graffitti indicating that some very strong feelings still remain. In one neighborhood and Irish flags were noted on one side of the street, while the flag of England was flown on the other side of the street.

Derry was a very different city from those we have seen on this trip. Driving through the city at 8:00 in the evening saw most store fronts covered with metal barriers or gates. There was very little activity and tourists were not seen. The history of the city has had such an impact on today. We were welcomed in the restaurants and everyone was very nice. However, there was a stark contrast between Derry and the cities we visited in Ireland.

What was seen today will not and should not be forgotten. Many reading this blog probably remember hearing about the Troubles in the 60s and 70s. Although it did not take long, visiting these sites was sobering.

We then traveled to Armaugh and visited the two cathedrals named after St. Patrick, one of the Church of Ireland, and the other the Catholic cathedral. The oldest cathedral, founded by St. Patrick in 445 AD, houses several sculptures from the Celtic and Iron Ages. Brian Boru is said to be buried here. This church fell victim to destruction over the centuries and has been rebuilt. Construction on the Catholic cathedral began in 1840, but the cathedral was not completed until 1904. The stained glass windows and mosaic tiles are beautiful. We also visited St. Patrick's Trian which reviewed some history of Ireland and St. Patrick, and reviewed Jonothan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.


We first visited to Ulster American Folk Park in Armaugh. Here we were able to experience what life was like at people prepared to travel from Ireland to America. The conditions in Ireland were reviewed. We passed through one of the "coffin ships" and saw the deplorable conditions. We then experienced life in the U.S. Reenactments were done and all parts of our "journey". We sat in a one room school house with a teacher who taught us the value of discipline and order. Some of our group was "late" for class. One student in particular had to go to the front of the room and was "scolded" in front of us all. "Getting lost" was not deemed a good enough reason for being late. Something about not being smart.... or something like that. None of us will ever be late again!

In the afternoon we traveled to the north east coast of Northern Ireland. The words magnificent, awesome and breathtaking cannot adequately describe the coast. Dunluce Castle, Giant's Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge were incredibly interesting and beautiful. Most students braved the rope bridge as you can see from the pictures. The guide at the bridge said it had almost been closed earlier in the day, as winds rose to 38 mph (children were prohibited from crossing earlier in the day...comforting thought). The bridge is closed at 40 mph. For some of us, the thought of walking a tight rope (well, not really, but....) was just too much, and we willingly took pictures. Rock ledges, water crashing against the shore, wind gusts and a rope bridge just wasn't a good combination.

We returned to Derry for dinner around 7:00 and then retired for the night.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More Pictures!

Trying to catch up on the pictures of the places we went when we were without consistant internet access. Here are some albums, with more to come!

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge


Marble Arch Caves

giant's causeway

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday...Back in Dublin

We have arrived safely in Dublin and are back at the Maple House. Today we traveled to the site of the Battle of the Boyne and Newgrange. Newgrange is a site dated before the pyramids! More details and pictures will follow, but it is now late. Many of you have probably heard from us. Oh, to have phone and internet access again!

Friday and Saturday are days to catch up on the sites we did not see two weeks ago. Some will visit Beaumont Hospital and the Irish Nurses Organization to get a first hand look at the health care delivery system here. Then we return to E.C. on Sunday.

Again, more information will follow. It is good to be back in touch!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday May 11

We have arrived safely in Derry after a lengthy trip. We visited Marble Caves ( similar to Howe's Caverns for those from New York). We were deep underground, but all came up and were accounted for.

We are staying at a lovely mansion, but is has essentially no internet access and no local phones or internet cafes for our use. The next three days will be very busy as we visit key sites in and around Derry. Some of the sites will be very sobering, and incredibly interesting. If you do not hear much from us, it is because we are very busy, which is always a good thing. We will post notes and pictures when we can, and definitely when we return to Dublin.