Prior to embarking on a full agenda of the CoSN delegation in Ireland, I had the opportunity to stroll through St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of Dublin. Immediately I was struck by the similarities of Stephen’s Green and the Boston Public Gardens, a place I occasionally visit with my husband in Massachusetts. Both boast of manicured walkways, lush greens, duck’s paddling in water ways and families enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon. Like the Public Gardens in Boston, Stephen’s Green was populated with reminders of heroes and events that helped to shape a country. I found myself stopping to admire a bust of Countess Markievicz in uniform. As I read about this commissioned officer of the Irish Citizen Army, and how she participated in the Irish Easter Rebellion of 1916, I couldn’t imagine the opposition she must have faced and the hardship she endured as a soldier and a woman. I tucked the feeling of inspiration away and continued on my way. However, to my surprise the Countess would reappear in the most surprising way.
The following day our agenda brought us to the Dept. of Education and Skills where we were introduced to Ireland’s 2015-2020 Digital Strategy for Schools and had an informative meeting with Minister Richard Bruton. Next we went directly to Leinster House, home of the National Parliament. During this tour we were able take a peek into the impressive Dáil Chamber and on our way out we followed a long hallway which led to the top of a grand staircase. Halfway down the stairs, lit by a magnificent chandelier was a full length, larger than life portrait of a beautiful woman with soft eyes. Dressed in a long pale gown, and holding a delicate pose, the Countess Markievicz took me off guard. Such a contrast from the stern face carved into the bust in the park. Is this the same woman? The one that was forced to surrender to the oppositions and kissed her revolver before handing it over? What a remarkable human being. Once again I felt inspired, but this time unwilling to tuck the feeling away. Instead, I will take it back to Massachusetts.