Monday, November 4, 2019

DUBLIN CELEBRATES THE IRISH, Guest Post by Gretchen Woelfle

The Irish Influence: Display at EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, Ireland

My friend and fellow children's book writer Gretchen Woelfle loves to travel and recently visited Ireland, where she spent a week in Dublin and went to both the Irish Emigration Museum and the Icon Factory. Here is her report:
Two very different sites in Dublin celebrate the Irish--those who left and those who stayed behind. 
Neville Isdell, former CEO of Coca Cola and founder of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, declared, “My own experience of being an emigrant has always stayed with me. And as they say, I left Ireland but Ireland never left me….My career took me all over the world, to 151 countries. I’ve always believed that the story of Irish people around the world was one worth telling, and so, I founded EPIC in 2016.”
How they left Ireland.
And epic it is: a vast gallery of cutting edge technology -- video, audio, interactive exhibits, and artworks – that tell a 400-year old story of Irish diasporas all over the world.  
Transportation to Australia.
When, how, and why they left Ireland; where they ended up; and what they and their descendants accomplished are revealed as visitors wend their way through the lower floor of a 200-year old warehouse on the banks of the River Liffey. (Twenty-two U.S. presidents claim Irish heritage, from Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama.)
The first rooms dramatize events that forced millions to leave.
Swiping right for Irish writers.
The Irish in Tin Pan Alley.
Later rooms focus on famous Irish and Irish-heritage musicians, actors, artists, writers, athletes, scientists, politicians, and outlaws who made their names all over the world. The Irish Family Heritage Center helps visitors discover their Irish roots.
The Icon Factory.
Not all the talent sailed to Boston, Liverpool, or Melbourne. The Icon Factory and Icon Walk offer low-tech, up-close experiences of home-grown celebrities. The Factory, an artist cooperative with a studio and a shop displays paintings, posters, and sculptures of Irish artists working today.
Seamus Heaney
Some of those same artists transformed the nearby dingy alleys into a brilliant mural gallery that celebrate Irish achievements in art, entertainment, sport, and the long struggle for independence.
The writers are known world-wide, including four Nobel prizewinners*. (Answer below.) Other figures filling the walls – comedians, athletes, musicians, and “oddballs, crackpots, and assorted genius” – were new to me.
Irish rock stars.
A caption under a mural of The Play Writers: The Pen Versus The Sword” offers a brilliant example of Irish wit.

Around 1610 Shakespeare wrote The Tempest and retired to Stratford on Avon where he died in 1616. Queen Elizabeth I, having completed the conquest of Ireland, was dead. The last of the Irish leaders, O’Neill and O’Donnell were gone to Spain, and Ulster planted with Crown subjects. Between 1616 and the War of Independence in 1922 which won back selfrule for most of Ireland, no play of any real merit was written in the English language by anyone other than by an Irish-born writer. Now riddle me this, who conquered who?

For more information: The Irish Emigration Museum The Icon Factory and Icon Walk

* William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney

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