Washington Ireland Program http://wiprogram.org For Service and Leadership Fri, 20 Apr 2018 09:42:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 91693167 Cody Keenan appointed WIP’s Writer in Residence for 2018 http://wiprogram.org/cody-keenan-appointed-wips-writer-in-residence-for-2018/ http://wiprogram.org/cody-keenan-appointed-wips-writer-in-residence-for-2018/#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:34:58 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=31575

WIP appoints acclaimed speechwriter to work with students on sharing their vision for the future.

We are delighted to announce that Cody Keenan has been appointed the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) writer in residence.

Over the next few months, Cody will work with WIP students and alumni/ae in developing their skills to share their vision and aspirations for the future. This autumn, Cody will host a Writer’s Retreat in Ireland for WIP alumni/ae.

Speaking on the appointment Bryan Patten, WIP’s Executive Director, remarked

“WIP students and Alumni are ambitious and optimistic for Northern Ireland and Ireland’s future. Creating that future will require emerging leaders from all communities with empathy, imagination and creativity. Through Cody’s appointment, we are investing in those new voices and providing them with the opportunity to refine their ideas with one of the great speechwriters of his generation.”

Speaking on the announcement of this role, Cody said:

“I’m humbled by this honor, and thrilled to remain connected with the Washington Ireland Program. I’ve had the privilege to meet with WIP students on a regular basis over the past six years, and I’m excited to work with WIP Alumni to help them craft and share their visions for our future. Irish poetry and prose have been a big influence on my own writing, and I hope this residency will, in some small way, sharpen a new generation of Irish voices.”

Cody Keenan has been a speechwriter for President Barack Obama for more than a decade, rising from a campaign intern in Chicago to Director of Speechwriting at the White House. Through times of challenge and change, Cody has helped President Obama craft remarks on every topic for every audience – from tiny backyards in Iowa to the biggest stadiums in the country; from a sermon in Selma to his farewell address. Over eight years in the White House, their collaborations were compared to the works of Abraham Lincoln, described as the “‘I Have a Dream’ speech for the 21st Century,” and categorized even by prominent Republicans as “speeches that every child should read in school.”

A graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard University, Cody’s passion for public service was sharpened as a young aide to the legendary Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In 2014, Northwestern honored Cody with its “Emerging Leader Award,” presented to a top alumnus under age 35, and the Sigma Chi International Fraternity recognized him with its Significant Sig Award. In 2015, Cody’s commencement address at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service was highlighted by the New York Times and the Washington Post as one of the year’s best. And in 2017, CNN’s critically-acclaimed documentary “The End” highlighted Cody as one of the central characters in the final days of the Obama White House. His wife Kristen shares his surprise that he was named by British GQ as one of the “35 Coolest Men Under 38 (And a Half).” Today, Cody serves as Barack Obama’s collaborator on his upcoming book, and as his post-presidential speechwriter.

As Obama once said of Keenan, “I rely on Cody not just to share my vision, but to help tell America’s story. He’s a brilliant writer. He’s relentless.”

Keenan is WIP’s second Writer in Residence, and takes on the role from the award-winning poet Martin Dyar.

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WIP names U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue as Honoree http://wiprogram.org/celtic-chefs-honoring-tom-donohue-u-s-chamber-of-commerce/ http://wiprogram.org/celtic-chefs-honoring-tom-donohue-u-s-chamber-of-commerce/#respond Thu, 29 Mar 2018 09:46:42 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=31526

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (WIP Class of 2000) with Tom Donohue, March 2018 – presenting award from the American Chamber of Commerce, Ireland
 © Ian Wagreich (U.S. Chamber of Commerce).

Award to be presented at Annual Celtic Chefs Event
LiUNA Headquarters, Thursday April 26 from 6pm
905 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006


The Washington Ireland Program (WIP) has announced that Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will be awarded the 2018 Washington Ireland Program Award for Service and Leadership.

“An Irishman from Long Island, who holds an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, Tom consistently sought to deepen the foundations of prosperity for all, in both the U.S. and Ireland,” said Bryan Patten, WIP Executive Director. “In doing so he has forged a career which stands as an inspirational example of global business leadership and won for himself a reputation which has provided countless members of the WIP Alumni community a sense of higher standards with respect to the possibilities of their own endeavors.”

The award will be presented at the ninth installment of the Washington Ireland Program’s annual event, An Evening with Celtic Chefs.

Tickets on sale now

A bit of blarney, some bipartisan peacemaking and some seriously swoonworthy food – the best of all of DC’s worlds collide in An Evening with Celtic Chefs

Jean Schindler

DC On Tap

“I am proud of my Irish heritage, and I have been lucky to travel to Ireland frequently and work with outstanding Irish leaders over the course of my career,” said Donohue. “I appreciate the work of the Washington Ireland Program to empower emerging Irish leaders and to foster Ireland’s diverse and dynamic economy. This award is a great honor and I look forward to continuing to work with the Program and its impressive young leaders.”

The Washington Ireland Program’s annual Evening with Celtic Chefs will feature fantastic Chefs from the DC area offering delicious samples of their signature preparations with an Irish flair.

The chefs will showcase their creativity alongside stars of Washington’s political and media firmament for a bipartisan evening of enjoyment and fun. Our celebrity chefs will be accompanied by an exciting line up of VIP Celebrity Sous Chefs hailing from the fields of politics, journalism, business, and the Irish American community.

You can find out more about the event at www.CelticChefs.org

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Announcing the WIP Class of 2018 http://wiprogram.org/class-of-2018-launch/ http://wiprogram.org/class-of-2018-launch/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:39:53 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=31450

WIP Class of 2018 Announced

We are delighted to introduce the thirty exceptional young people from Northern Ireland and Ireland, the members of the WIP Class of 2018.  For the first time, students will complete their summer placements in Washington DC and New York.

They were selected following a rigorous application process, from over 300 applications from 19 different Universities and Colleges.  The Class was announced in March in Washington DC, with remarks from Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau, Laurie Johnson, Accenture Federal Services, PSNI Officer Norman Haslett and WIP’s Executive Director Bryan Patten.  WIP Vice Chair, Carmel Martin, MC’d the event.  We are especially thankful to Susie Hoffman and Crowell & Moring, who hosted the breakfast.

Other guests included Reece Smyth (Chargé d’affaires, US Embassy Dublin), Dan Lawton (US Consul General, Belfast), Brian Cahalane (Irish Embassy, DC), George Hamilton (Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland), Mike Nesbitt (MLA for Strangford), Professor Brian MacCraith (President of Dublin City University), Professor Deirdre Heenan (Ulster University), Mark Redmond (American Chamber of Commerce Ireland)  – and many more.

The students have now completed their Orientation Program in Northern Ireland, and will arrive in the US in early June to complete their summer program.  The time in New York and DC will include extensive opportunities for cultural exchange and personal development – including living in host families, working closely with their American peers and gaining real life exposure to the US democratic process.

This year’s Class will be led by WIP’s first ever all female program leadership team – Claire Rumpsa, Heather McCormick, Olivia MacDonald and Rachel Powell.

WIP18 Class Announcement

Crowell & Moring, Washington DC

Date Published
26th March 2018

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Protected: Norman Tribute http://wiprogram.org/norman-tribute/ http://wiprogram.org/norman-tribute/#respond Tue, 31 Oct 2017 12:58:47 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=30765

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Applications for WIP Class of 2018 launching soon http://wiprogram.org/wip18-launchingsoon/ http://wiprogram.org/wip18-launchingsoon/#respond Thu, 05 Oct 2017 09:42:14 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=29954

Applications for the WIP Class are now open – please see this site for more information

This year, for the first time, we will be placing students in New York as well as Washington DC as part of the program.

If you would like to receive an update when the Application Form is launched, please complete of Expression of Interest Form below.
(If you have issues viewing the form, it is also available via this link)

Also, please do review the feedback we provided to applicants who weren’t shortlisted in 2017 here.


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Celtic Cup 2017 http://wiprogram.org/celtic-cup-2017/ http://wiprogram.org/celtic-cup-2017/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:03:06 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=29826

***Photos available on the Celtic Cup Flickr Page***


12th Annual Celtic Cup

The 12th Annual Celtic Cup was held on September 11th at the Ernie Els designed Whiskey Creek Golf Club in Ijamsville, MD.

The day began with a moment of silence, led by Wounded Warrior Charles Eggleston, to honor those who lost their lives 16 years ago on 9/11 . We were delighted to have Board Chairman Jim Carroll and the new Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall each say a few words of welcome before the start of the tournament.

18 teams of four completed a course that is designed to test a golfer’s ability to balance risk and reward with obstacles such as water elements, rock outcroppings, stone walls, and significant elevation changes.  

The post-tournament reception was emceed by Executive Director Bryan Patten and included words of praise for the Irish American community from Ambassador Mulhall, a live raffle, and the presentation of awards.

Ambassador Mulhall presented awards to our top three placing teams for the 2017 Celtic Cup:

-In Third Place: Lenore Martinez, Dan McNamara, Andy Mekelburg, and Frank Cantrel, Jr.

-In Second Place, the returning champions from last year: Mike Collins, Dave Adler, Brian Zumwalt, and Chris Herndon

-To round out the top three, in First Place, the team from the Northern Ireland Bureau: Terry Blanton, Ed Tafoya, Ty Herriot, and Kent Hagen

Congratulations to all the teams that completed the challenging course at Whiskey Creek!

Over its 12 years the Celtic Cup has raised over $750,000 for the Washington Ireland Program, and this event would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. Many thanks to all involved in creating this great event!

Enjoy a selection of photos from the day in the gallery below. To view or download all of the photos from the day please follow this link to the Celtic Cup flickr page. Many thanks to our volunteer photographer Jim Burke!

12th Annual Celtic Cup

Whiskey Creek Golf Club

Date Published
19th September 2017

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Northern Ireland Bureau Farewell 2017 http://wiprogram.org/northern-ireland-bureau-farewell-2017/ http://wiprogram.org/northern-ireland-bureau-farewell-2017/#respond Mon, 07 Aug 2017 17:39:10 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=29541


Northern Ireland Bureau Farewell

The Northern Ireland Bureau hosted a farewell event for the WIP Class of 2017 on Thursday July 27th, 2017 at the Homer Building in DC.

The evening was a chance to not only honor the Class of 2017 for their accomplishments this summer, but also the host families, work placements, and Board members that make the program what it is. The speaking portion of the evening included remarks from the Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau Norman Houston, WIP students Samuel Jackson and Tara Grace Connolly, and Vice Chair of the WIP Board of Directors Kristin Leary.

Samuel reflected on what drew him to the program, and what he will be taking back to home:

“It was the opportunity to continue to engage with others and to be immersed in difference that first drew me to WIP. I had a desire to challenge and be challenged to bring about understanding. WIP, through its debate format and speaker series drawing on various political backgrounds has on many occasions caused one to reflect, and this is what has been so valuable about the programme. Friendships across political, national and religious divides have been built and I dare say they will last as we return home.”

Tara Grace, who worked in the Northern Ireland Bureau this summer, took a moment to acknowledge that while the summer was challenging, it was also an opportunity for growth and development:

“I can safely say, that after 8 weeks here in the States no amount of reading or YouTube videos could have prepared me for this experience…Whether it is nervously preparing to introduce a guest speaker, starting a work placement on Capitol Hill, or frantically trying to work out the right way to swipe your card through the barriers on the New York subway, WIP manages to try and test you constantly, whilst simultaneously being there to catch you when things don’t go as planned, and preparing you to try again.” 

WIP will be honoring Norman Houston with the Spirit of WIP award at the Alumni Ball this November in recognition of his long-standing support of the program.

Many thanks to the Bureau for hosting a wonderful evening and allowing us the opportunity to extend our gratitude to the many people that help make the summer a great experience for the WIP Class.

Northern Ireland Bureau Farewell Event

Homer Building, Washington DC

Date Published
August 4th, 2017

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Host Family Farewell 2017 http://wiprogram.org/host-family-farewell-2017/ http://wiprogram.org/host-family-farewell-2017/#respond Fri, 04 Aug 2017 17:15:02 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=29502

Host Family Farewell 2017

We were delighted to honor our 26 amazing host families for the Class of 2017 on Friday, July 28th, 2017 at Chevy Chase Village Hall.

The purpose of the evening was to extend our greatest thanks to the families that host the 30 WIP Students during their 8 weeks in DC. The event was MC’d by Rebecca O’Byrne (hosted by Colet & Roger Mitchell) and Martin McKiernan (hosted by Sean & Dori O’Donnell.) The speaker portion of the evening involved remarks from Program Director Ronan Lynagh, Executive Director Bryan Patten, and Host Mom and Board Member Susie Hoffman. We were also delighted to have Board Member BR McConnon III of DDC Advocacy say a few words. BR will be taking over as Chairman when Jim Carroll steps down next year.

The WIP Class of 2017 provided plenty of entertainment for the evening to show their thanks for their host families. Arlene Walsh Wallace performed a reading on gratitude from Consolations by David Whyte, Sarah McLaughlin read a poem written by the program’s own Ronan Lynagh, and the WIP ‘Glee Club’ re-wrote the lyrics to some famous tunes to represent the WIP Experience.


(Sung to the tune of Sweet Caroline)

Look around us, everyone’s so so lovely

Filled with joy and happiness,

And when we think,

Thinking of June the 3rd,

How life was, without you there.

Chats, lots of chats, laughs and chats

We’ve become family…

We extend our endless thanks to the host families who are an essential part of the WIP summer. The conversations at the dinner table, the day trips to other states or areas, and the welcoming attitude of all are a significant part of what makes this the summer of a lifetime for the students.

If you are interested in becoming a host family, please contact the office at office@wiprogram.org or 202.772.3824

Host Family Farewell 2017

Chevy Chase Village Hall

Date Published
August 2nd, 2017

The WIP Glee Club performing their own rendition of Sweet Caroline

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Shannan Kincaid – Belfast Girl Taking on Capitol Hill http://wiprogram.org/shannan-kincaid-belfast-girl-taking-on-capitol-hill/ http://wiprogram.org/shannan-kincaid-belfast-girl-taking-on-capitol-hill/#comments Thu, 03 Aug 2017 14:44:23 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=29536

Shannan Kincaid

Belfast Girl Taking on Capitol Hill

Shannan is a second year BSc Honors student studying Social Policy with Criminology at Ulster University and is an elected Course Representative on Ulster University’s Student Union Council. She served two terms on the Belfast City Youth Forum where she held the role of Chairperson, during which she actively worked with politicians to incorporate and raise awareness of young people’s views in politics, and developed projects dealing with issues pertinent to many young people’s lives and wellbeing in Northern Ireland. Shannan is passionately involved with voluntary work in her local community. She has managed projects that have increased employability skills, and employment with local enterprises, within the community youth sector. Shannan has had extensive involvement with many third sector organizations – as well as with local MLAs, the Equality Commission and Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People – towards improving the lives and futures of our youth living in deprived communities in Northern Ireland.

Shannan Kincaid

Ulster University

Social Policy with Criminology

Work Placement
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick

Host Family
Kitty Wach & Peter Ellsworth

Date Published
August 3rd, 2017

As a girl from the Lower Shankill in Belfast, I would never have dreamt that I would have been part of the WIP 2017 class. Living in Washington D.C., working in a congressional office and participating in amazing service activities such as Life Pieces to Master Pieces, has been the best experience of my life. Being part of the WIP class of 2017, has helped me learn more about myself as an individual but also developed many of my skills which I will bring back to Northern Ireland/ Ireland to better the future of our country. I have had many amazing experiences ranging from working with a congressional office and learning about the politics of the US; to participating in a Ride along with the Metropolitan Police Department; to enjoying the monuments and museums in my free time. This is only a snipit of the summer and I cannot put it into words how amazing this experience has been.

Working for a congressional office scared me at first. I remember finding out I was chosen to be working with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and wondering why me? There are so many people that know more than me. Spending the past 6 weeks in my internship I have to thank WIP for this amazing experience and thank Congressman Fitzpatrick and his staff for making my summer so worth while.

Within my internship I had numerous roles. I had to serve the people of the 8th District by answering constituents concerns that they voiced via email, telephone or mail. It amazed me how accurate the saying “working for the people” actually is in regard to the US political system. All concerns voiced by the constituents of the 8th District meant something to the Congressman and he aimed to help. The participation and involvement of constituents in Politics amazed me. Every day we got calls from many of people expressing their concerns or feelings towards policy making. This is astonishing and I feel this should be the way forward in Northern Ireland/ Ireland. We should have more civic engagement with people that will be effected by the policies government aims to bring in. How can you expect to be successful if you don’t listen to the people you are supposed to represent?

As an intern, one of my main roles were to give tours of the Capitol Hill. Yes a Belfast girl gave a tour of Capitol Hill to American citizens. Comedic. This was so scary! I was so afraid of messing up! Before taking my first tour I studied the handbook on the history for about two days. It was like going into a history exam, trying to remember facts and dates. As I was giving my first tour, the guy was so interested in telling me his stories as I told him stories of the building, it helped me not be so nervous and gave me a better insight in to how American’s view their history. Whilst giving tours I quickly understood that congressman and congresswomen passed me everyday. Whilst looking for the congressional pin, I realised that even though I was taking the tours I still felt like the tourist getting excited every time someone important walked past me. While learning my way around the Capitol Building and through the tunnels I got lost numerous times, but on my journey I found the Senate side, Dunkin Donuts and the Library of Congress. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to find a new direction.

I also sat in on Briefings and subcommittee hearings which gave me a better insight to the American Political system. My favourite briefing I attended was a Homeland Security Briefing. As a criminology student I am interested in understanding what constitutes as political violence and the measures the government take to prevent or limit terrorism. The Briefing I attended explained how the safety of the people is crucial and how they will protect the US citizens from terrorist attacks. The subcommittee had three witness which they questioned to gain better expertise around this topic. This hands on experience amazed me and gave be great knowledge into a field I will be studying next semester when I return to University. Learning about what the US does to ensure the safety of the country was fascinating. Hearings and Briefings were Brilliant! I was able to witness first hand what open subcommittees where doing and aiming to do for the future.

My office was so friendly and welcoming. Regardless of me being a Belfast girl I was treated the exact same as everyone else. Congressman Fitzpatrick was very welcoming and inquisitive about where I came from and how he and his staff could help me get the best experience possible. Michael McCabe overlooked all of the interns for the summer. He insured that we all had constructive work to do and that we were learning every day. Some of the duties I participated in included: going to a press release and watching Congressman Fitzpatrick support a bill, helping to prepare for floor speeches, researching and creating a cosponsor request for the congressman to read and attending events on Capitol Hill.

One memorable day on Capitol Hill was the ACPA event ‘PAWS for celebration’ where they brought dogs to congress. Maybe if we took this tactic and used puppies in Stormont we could see a more peaceful, prosperous future for the Emerald Isle in which we live.

From this once in a lifetime experience I have gained so much knowledge around how the US political system works, how important constituent issues are and how important it is to respond and act on the needs of your District. I have learnt some amazing things that I want to bring home to Northern Ireland/ Ireland to better the future. I wish all the best to Congressman Fitzpatrick and all his staff. Thank you for an amazing summer.


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Aine Lawless – Journeys http://wiprogram.org/aine-lawless-journeys/ http://wiprogram.org/aine-lawless-journeys/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:52:49 +0000 http://wiprogram.org/?p=29497

Aine Lawless


Currently in her second year studying Multimedia in DCU, Áine has a keen interest in cross border relations. She is a graduate of the Glencree Young Peace Builders Program and acts as a Student Ambassador for her University. For the past year she has been the campus coordinator of the 8×8 Photo & Film Festival, which has informed students on the global refugee crisis and refugee issues in Ireland. One of her biggest passions is the Irish language and its relevance as a modern European language; she’s an active member of the Irish language society, Cumann Gaelach.

Aine Lawless

Dublin City University

BSc Multimedia

Work Placement
Susan Davis International

Host Family
Kate & Bob Hunter

Date Published
July 27, 2017

I don’t think I understood the meaning of humidity until I came to DC. Standing on the platform in the mornings waiting on the metro feels quite literally like standing in a sauna. You’re sticky and tired and the clean, dry clothes you put on that morning are now damp with sweat. The humid heat here is different than the normal dry heat we get on a nice day back home. It’s thick and heavy and feels like you have to push through it with every step. DC was built on swamp land, and unless you are Shrek I don’t think any of person is equipped to deal with a swamp in the middle of summer.

Waiting for the metro at an above ground station in these conditions is fairly grim. It gets better in the underground stations though. Like everything else in DC the metro stations were designed on an extravagant scale. If you’ve ever been on the subway in New York City you’ll know the stations to be low ceilinged, narrow platformed and hot as hell. DC metro stations are the opposite. Above the generous, wide platforms you have double height arching ceilings and best of all a fairly decent ventilation system. The stations and trains provide some minor relief from the crippling heat outside but on the days that reach into the 30s(°C or 90+°F) the effect they have is minimal, especially when travelling at rush hour with 100s of your most intimate friends crammed right in there next to you.

While the negatives of the metro are fairly self evident (lack of seating/ overcrowding, surprise track works that cause unforeseen delays, questionable individuals muttering in the corner and services that finish before your night has even begun…) I have to say that I won’t look back on it with anything but fondness. I would consider my metro journey down town every morning some of the only ‘me’ time I get day to day. It gives me a chance to process the things I have to do that day, check emails, read my book or sometimes have a cheeky nap.. You might hear people say that cheeky naps on the metro are ill-advised, I promise you that in the morning so long as you’ve got a good handle on your possessions and don’t fall into a deep sleep there’s nothing to worry about. Cheeky naps should always be acceptable in my opinion, i think we could learn something from the Japanese idea of ‘Inemuri’ in that respect.

Contrary to what you may believe right now, I don’t just use the metros as an escape from the heat and an extension of my bedroom… Some of the most interesting conversations anf memorable moments I’ve had during my time in the US have happened on the metro and subway. While in New York on one subway journey in particular, myself and one of my other classmates voiced our irritation with the state of the world today and how terrifying and damaging human beings can be. Summarized in the end we decided that the solution to the majority of the world’s problems would come if everyone would just have empathy and not be dick.. Or at the very least not cause deliberate harm to other beings. On another journey we became an acappella rebel band. Our singing was surprisingly well received and I feel like we only got away with that one because of our ‘Irishness’ something that opens a lot of doors for you over here even if ironically 150 years ago it was the complete opposite.

(Interrupting this blog cast to send out a worldwide plea for a standardisation of the word used for these trains, is it a metro or a subway or an underground or a tube etc etc etc… took me at least two weeks to figure out the right term to use here)

A former Wipper told me before I came over here that my closest friends in the group would probably be the ones on the same metro line as me. She was right, there’s something about sitting together for even half an hour at the end of a long day when everyone is wrecked and usually still bubbling over from some debate or controversy that bonds you. It’s at those times when you’re most tired that you learn the most about each other, whether it’s someone divulging their family history, someone ranting passionately about something they care about or someone falling asleep and nearly missing their stop (<- me)… the people I have shared these moments with are some of the people I have gotten to know the best and are some of the people I hope will stay in my life in years to come (if only so I’ll have couches to crash on when they’re off studying abroad or saving the world in some far off land).

The metro of course isn’t without its flaws but my WIP experience would have been entirely different without this staple of life in DC. To follow on from that, Dublin needs to up it’s game in terms of city wide public transport, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fully re-embrace Dublin Bus when we get back. I can only hope now that these vague plans of a metro running from Dublin city centre out to the airport actually come to fruition!

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