Dublin, Dublin, Dublin.

It is such a beautiful city.
There’s something about river cities and coastal cities that I find irresistible. I like the water and breeze, I think. And although it’s much busier than the quiet cathedral city of Armagh, it still has this incredibly visible identity.
One of the more remarkable adventures I’ve had while in the city was my tour of the Guinness Storehouse.
Did you know that Arthur Guinness originally signed a 9,000 year lease for the St. James’ Gate property? Now THAT is some serious confidence.
This is the same property where the storehouse still stands, boasting the worlds largest pint-shaped structure. Beyond the architecture and my new title as a ‘Professional Guinness Taster’ -here’s a tip, stand up straighter- I’m amazed at the history and pride that goes into making every pint. Every sign mentions it’s founder Arthur Guinness as the fifth ingredient, and his identity as an Irishman and Guinness’ identity as ‘The Irish Beer’ is evident and proudly displayed.
Nationality is so tightly entwined with everything in this city, and that does make me very happy. It’s beautiful to see a city embrace it’s culture and nationality with such vigor.
It’s also interesting to note the contrast of old and new. The modern way ‘Dubliners’ and the Irish are reclaiming their identity mixes with the city’s old buildings, sights and museums is a testament to cultural evolution. Out of conflict and confusion, Dublin has shifted into a modern city with a heck of a story to tell.
I’m left wanting more from Dublin. I’ve experienced some of the brilliant things this city has to offer, but I so look forward to experiencing more.







Who, what, when, where. But why?

“Where are you from?”

It’s one of the first questions they ask you when you enter University residences. And from that point on, everyone around you has expectations. If you’re from a big city they expect a certain attitude or knowledge, if you’re from a small-town they expect a certain personality and set of habits.

Your regional identity gives people around you a sense of what to expect from you, a sort of standard, and also gives yourself a sense of who you are. We are the result of our environments, and so to be raised in one city versus another creates unique patterns, likes, dislikes and personality traits that make up who we are.

It also gives us a sense of history. You can’t really know who you are until you know where you’ve come from. It doesn’t mean you’ll act a certain way, but it gives you a sense of where you came from, which can change your attitudes towards a number of things. Coming from the suburbs versus the city can make a huge difference, even if it is only a number of minutes away.

Today I had a chance to speak with Norman Simpson, a 72 year old, self identified ‘Ulster Man’, and a retired private from the UDA (Ulster Defence Regiment) who has lived in Armagh Co., Northern Ireland his whole life. As he told me, he’s an Ulster Man, his father was an Ulster Man, and I’m sure his grandfather and his grandfather’s grandfather were Ulster Men as well. It gives him a sense of belonging, in a country that seems to be so stuck on the idea of belonging, rights and the privileges that come with that belonging. In such a confusing world, how do you know where you fit in if not by following the patters of those who came before you?

Regardless of whether or not an individual stays in the same place they grew up or came from, one’s regional identity holds a certain permanence. One day I hope to live and work in the U.K. but that won’t ever stop me from saying I’m Canadian, even if my passport says otherwise some day. If anything, it might stand to explain why I talk funny.

Really, regional identity all comes down to identifying yourself and knowing where you fit in -essentially the ultimate question for the human condition.

If you know where you are, you know more about who you are, and you know where to call home.