Reading and studying literature has always been an interest of mine. When I was younger, I found myself gravitating toward Irish literature in particular. I would dive into the works of Joyce and others and find myself lost in the descriptions of towns and landscapes that felt so familiar yet so far away. I have images in my mind of what these literary scenes look like in real life (St. Stephen’s Green, the streets of Limerick and Galway, among others), and my dream is to explore the details of these spaces in real life…to connect what I have in my mind’s eye to reality. In college, the paper I was most proud of writing in my four years of schooling was a study on the use of the color yellow in Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” I am now an English/Language Arts teacher, and I want to use this experience to show my students that books are so much more than just words on a page. They are inspired by real-life places, and they can be powerful enough to inspire people to see new things that they otherwise might never have known. There are a few quotes and lines of poetry in particular that have always stuck in my mind. The first is from publisher Harold Clarke: “colour in an Irish setting is a thing of the moment.” That quote makes me yearn for the time when I will be lost in a moment in some Irish landscape, witnessing that Irish color for myself. It reminds me of the paper I wrote on “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Having studied the use of color in that text, I became intrigued by seeing the colors that Joyce was inspired by, in the setting that inspired him. Another comes from AE (George Russell), an Irish nationalist, poet, and painter: “Out of such stuff as Ireland dreams are made of.” This line is so interesting to me. It makes me feel as though Irish dreams, in particular, are made up of something special- that the contents of those dreams are something that people should feel lucky to have experienced, and that they are something I want to experience myself. I recently got married on February 20th of this year. My husband and I do not currently have any plans for a honeymoon. Spending our honeymoon in Ireland would be a dream come true for both of us. Should this trip be awarded to us, you can be certain that it will be appreciated, both as an amazing honeymoon and an opportunity for me to experience so many places I have read about for so long. The streets of Stephen Dedalus’s Dublin, Frank McCourt’s Limerick, and the rural landscapes of Michael Moran’s County Leitrim call to me each time I read about them, and this prize would allow me to answer their call. I appreciate your time in reading my essay submission, and I thank you for your consideration.
From James Joyce to Oscar Wilde, Ireland has birthed a number of literary greats. These authors have created images of Ireland that have become instilled in the minds of many, creating a longing to one day experience a trip to Ireland. One thing art and literature cannot fully capture is that of the romance of a Honeymoon in Ireland – that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience you and your partner have to experience for yourselves!