Ward ’14: A Little more Irish History

Darius Ward ’14 – Near the conclusion of the immersion trip, each student in my group was encouraged to visit one of several locations and blog about the experience afterwards. So where did I decide to go? Yep, you got it: another museum. I was not really sure where I wanted to visit initially. However a few of the local Dubliners mentioned the national history museum with a decent amount of admiration for the place.

Word-of-mouth really is a good way to attract tourists because the increasing amounts of positive feedback that I heard from the people on the street heightened my curiosity about what is actually inside of the museum. When you first enter the museum, it appears to be a gift shop or an apparel store. I distinctly remember thinking “oh yeah, this is going to be really exciting.” Sarcasm aside, the museum’s rich cultural aesthetic began to unravel immediately after I passed through the doorway exiting the gift shop area.

The three displays showing the bog bodies were the most intriguing aspect of the museum to me. Each display shows the remains of an individual that lived in the Irish swamplands during the Iron Age, hence the name “bog bodies.” I actually found the bodies on accident because they are kept in their own secluded area behind a small wall. I saw the partially disturbed, yet excited expression on people’s faces as the left from behind each of the curved walls. My curiosity brought on more excitement than I had anticipated. At the center of the first room I saw a small rust-colored figure that was clearly human remains. At this point I knew exactly what was going through the minds of the people leaving the small areas containing the bog bodies. I could not help but think “this is a little weird, yet I want to see more.”

So I decided to actually see more of what the museum offered pertaining to the bog people. I read a sign on the wall outside of the second bog body display. The description of him said that he was murdered by a sharp object during the Iron Age, which is evident by  the stab wounds that are still visible on the head. What I saw at the center of the room was shocking: the remains of only half of a body.  Another thing about this particular body is that you could still distinctively see the facial features of a young man with red hair. It was not clear how the museum managed to keep the bodies so intact.

After viewing the bog bodies, I walked upstairs to a section titled “Ancient Egypt.” The displays were neat, but nothing beyond my expectations for Ancient Egyptian displays in a museum. The next area that I visited was called “Viking Ireland.” It offered more of the Medieval theme that I had originally anticipated when I first heard about the museum. Two of the coolest things that I saw on display in the “Viking Ireland” section of the museum were the Medieval warrior attire/weaponry and the altar crosses. The attire was basically just a wiry metal shawl and a pointed helmet. The crosses were all different seeing that they came from many different places. For example, one of them was imported from France whereas the one directly next to it was from Italy. I just saw the various crosses as a reminder of how some countries can influence the culture of other countries, although this time only involved importing crosses into Ireland. I enjoyed the museum thoroughly, so there is no doubt that it was time well spent.

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