Summer Abroad at the University of Limerick is a learning in the streets experience. The course I teach is called Exploring the Culture of Ireland. It’s an interdisciplinary course that includes politics, psychology, and the humanities. We take plenty of excursions throughout the Republic on large charter busses. Our students learn first to navigate the Limerick campus where they take one class taught by faculty at UL — an expansive campus by comparison to Maryville. Below are photos of some of the elaborate and beautiful murals in the Foundation building.
The Abbey River bisects the campus and two bridges cross the river for easy access to the main campus from the residences. My students are housed in Cappavilla Village, near the Living Bridge and the Irish World Academy Building. I’m housed this year in Thomand Village, west of the main residences and near the business and computer science buildings. From my apartment, the view is quite different from other parts of campus. There’s a great deal of green space along both sides of the river. Bicyclists traverse the river road, as do dog walkers. I’ve spotted a few fishermen as well.
At the foot of the west bridge is a smallish marker than shows the date it was erected — in 2004, during the height of the Celtic Tiger boom. The TD at the time was none other than Bernie Ahern and his name is inscribed on the marker. I became acquainted with Bernie’s exploits last summer, as I was researching contemporary Irish politics.
You’ll find many sources from which to discover the story of Bernie’s meteoric rise and fall, including the archives of the Irish Times. Suffice to say that Bernie, while still very popular with some Irish, fell hard from the lofty seat of power and privilege he enjoyed during the boom years when the bust of 2007 occurred, as a result of his relationships with the troubled banks and real estate developers.
Ireland is slowly recovering from their economic crash. There are signs of progress and yet I hear the same sentiments from the average Irish worker that I heard when I was here in 2012. Too many young Irish must emigrate to find well-paying jobs. And, although the Irish living in Munster tend to be progressive thinkers, looking forward rather than dwelling on past troubles, they worry about the opportunities for their children and the cost their children will bear as a result of the Celtic Tiger excesses.