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“Between the idea and the reality falls the Shadow” (The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot): ICCC Final Week

Ladies and gents, the time has come.

Today, I’ll summarize what will be the last week of the ICCC (Irish Culture Crash Course).

In just one month, I will be moving into my new room in Cork, Ireland. Before then, I’ll be traveling with my sister to some amazing places, so I figured now would be a good time to wrap up this particular series.

Not to worry, though! I plan to continue posting regular updates, first concerning travel, then all about settling into my new home.

Let’s get on with it!

This week, I decided to focus less on the tradition and history of Ireland and more on the culture and talent of its artists. In this case, filmmakers and an author.

We’ll start with Room, by Emma Donoghue. A horrifying, haunting, yet somehow heartwarming novel, it tells the story of a woman kidnapped, locked up, and abused by a stranger for seven years, during which time she gives birth to a son by her captor. Despite the terrible means by which he was conceived, Jack becomes Ma’s beacon of hope and a new reason to live and try to escape from Room.

The story is told from Jack’s point of view, which makes it all the more interesting of a read. Instead of experiencing an adult’s plans for escape and mental torture, we experience a little boy’s everyday thoughts as he grows up in his tiny universe, ignorant of anything outside of these familiar 11 cubed feet (in order to protect Jack, Ma describes what they see on the television as fantasy, not depictions of the rest of the world).

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Room gave me no idea of Irish culture or tradition. It was a well-written novel that instead showed me just a little piece of the creative talent that emerges from this country. A story of fortitude, protection, and interminable love, it was gripping from start to finish.

Next up, The Fall. I suppose I (mostly) unknowingly chose very creepy things to read and watch this week. Ah, well.

This TV series is just so great. I barely have words to describe it. The acting is superb, the cinematography phenomenal. Produced as a joint British and Irish project by the BBC, this series describes perfectly why, for a while, my dream was to work for the BBC producing film and television. My path may have strayed since then, but watching beautifully made television like this always sparks the same interest in me.

What I love about The Fall is that it is wholly unlike any crime drama I’ve seen. You know from the start what the goal is: catch the bad guy. Unlike most crime shows, whose main characters are caricatures with no depth who investigate a new offense in every episode and find the bad guy in the last ten minutes, The Fall gives you his identity within the first half hour of watching and follows the same story throughout the series.

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What unfolds, then, is a suspenseful character thriller more focused on the tension between Stella Gibson – ice queen, tough cop, and serial flirt – and Paul Spector – loving father, bereavement counselor, and serial killer.

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An amazing show created by some incredible collaborators, The Fall will keep you hooked all series long.

If you need sustenance while you’re binge watching your new favorite drama, look no further than Donal Skehan’s Howth Head Seafood Chowder.

I had to make a few substitutions to the seafood used, but got there eventually. Again, the simplicity trend continued – this recipe involved chucking various ingredients into a pot in a semi-particular order.

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Super simple, lots of leftovers. Perfect all around!

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Well, this concludes the final installment of the Irish Culture Crash Course. I hope you enjoyed it and were enlightened in some small way! I had a lot of fun exploring, and it has helped pass the time while I count down the days until the real thing.

See you next time!

Elena

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