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UCC International Pre-Departure Blog Series: ICCC Week Two

This week was a total success.

Welcome to the ICCC, 2nd edition.

I’m going to combine all three elements into one post, for both our conveniences!

Film

Let’s start with the film: The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

Three words: devastating; heartbreaking; brilliant.

The film follows two brothers (from County Cork, may I add) who join the Irish Republican Army to fight the British during the Irish War of Independence, but are left fighting for opposing sides during the Irish Civil War that follows the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

All sorts of heavy themes are explored in the film: nationalism, betrayal, and family.

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Despite being an independent movie, Barley did very well in its release, and for good reason. I became so emotionally invested in the characters and their struggle. An Anglophile all my life, I found myself starting to feel quite different emotions towards the English after this new glimpse into a history I knew nothing of previously.

This wasn’t just another sad war film. The story itself may have been fiction, but I have no doubt that every event that occurred, occurred in real life in some fashion during this terrible time. I feel that little bit more educated on this important part of Irish history from both the movie and the research I did after being inspired by this watch.

Overall, 5 stars. Would watch again (if I’m in the mood for sobbing my eyes out).

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Literature

Next up, the literature for the week: the brilliant historical, archaeological history Haunted Ground, written by Erin Hart. Focused on “bog bodies,” human remains amazingly preserved by being locked without air in peat bogs for centuries, this book explored the human relations affected by these unusual discoveries.

Loved it. I’m already reading the sequel (Lake of Sorrows).

Along with being suspenseful and pretty great at developing all the most relevant characters (Hart wrote it in the third person omniscient voice), this book made me feel as though I understood Irish family and culture just a bit better. There was an element of difficulty the lead archaeologists – Nora and Cormac – felt by conducting their research amidst the gossip and uncomfortable closeness of a small town – one a bit stuck in the past, at that.

The book even explored the divide between the past and modernity in Ireland by giving insight on the different methods of turf-cutting in peat bogs (an element important in the story, as these bog bodies can be destroyed if uncovered by a turf-cutter using a modern cutting machine).

It wasn’t exactly historical fiction. This genre is actually my favorite, but I find that many books labeled as such focus more on the history than the people. This is what I loved about Haunted Ground – it focused on a human story with elements of history and mystery entwined with the plot to expand it.

5 stars.

Cuisine

Potatoes are a staple of the Irish diet, from my understanding. So it seemed obvious to make a potato-based recipe this week!

It turned out oh so well. I made Potato Cheddar Dinner Rolls using Donal Skehan’s (a pretty famous and fab Irish food blogger) recipe.

My mom laughed at me when I said I wanted to be authentic in my production of this food item. I wanted to do everything by hand and to really feel what I was doing. She approved, as a cook of over 35 years, but didn’t believe I could do it. I proved her wrong (sort of).

I got so into it that I forgot to take pictures of the process. But trust me when I say I pressed those boiled potatoes through a sieve instead of mashing them with an electric hand masher, rubbed the flour and butter together without the help of a pastry blender, and even tried to knead the dough myself.

Buuuut… That proved a bit too messy. So I’m sorry – I used our trusty KitchenAid mixer once again to finish the job.

Here’s a cool gif, because you know I love gifs.

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And here is the gorgeous, delicious end product.

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It’s so versatile! Eat with some smoked salmon and eggs for breakfast, stuff with turkey, mayo and spinach for lunch, and add as a side dish for a delicious Irish dinner stew. Why not?

I hope you enjoyed this week’s round-up and got involved by watching, reading, or cooking with me!

~Here are the picks for the next week~

Film

My Left Foot. Award-winning, absolute classic starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Here’s the terrible official trailer, which seems to completely skirt any mention of the main plot point, which is why I will link to the IMDB page here.

Literature

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The Visitors by Patrick O’Keefe. The links to Ireland and the United States go back a while, so it’ll be interesting to read a book that concerns this relationship.

Cuisine

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Another recipe by Donal Skehan! Blackberry Amber, which will be perfect for summer. Looks absolutely scrumptious.

Thank you for reading this week’s ICCC catch-up! See you in a few days.

– Elena

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