Ruth Johnson – Dublin City Archaeologist

Dr Ruth Johnson is City Archaeologist for Dublin city and is charged with protecting, managing and investigating our oldest heritage, much of it underground. As well as conservation projects, Ruth has input to new development projects across the city and a role in policy development advocacy. We sat down for a chat to find out how she works and what’s going on across the city, under the ground, in our oldest graveyards, our buried monasteries and in half-hidden, forgotten houses. How did you first become an archaeologist Ruth? I worked on a community excavation project in Yorkshire while doing my A-levels after which I did a Primary Degree in archa

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World class teachers: Aoife McLysaght, geneticist

Professor Aoife McLysaght is Principal Investigator in the Molecular Evolutionary Laboratory and Lecturer in Genetics, TCD. The thing that I find interesting and exciting: new ideas and trying to figure them out. And that works better when you’ve got somebody to talk about it with. You learn from the experience of working with people who are really good. And even though I’m now a Professor in Genetics at Trinity I still feel that this still goes on, that I learn from other people and I really enjoy the interactions that I have. That’s the difference between doing whatever it is you do at home at a desk

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Ed Giansante & eDublin – A local guide for Brazilians

Ed Giansante left Sao Paulo for Dublin in 2008 with the hope of learning English and making a new start in Ireland. He lived with a host family in a Dublin suburb and went to an English language school near Mountjoy Square. His timing was both good and bad. Ireland’s economy had hit a massive recession, and the country was facing into a period of austerity. It would be hard for a native to survive in the capital under such conditions, let alone a non-English speaker. He found work with Stratogen, an advertising agency, where he worked for 18 months. “I was making hardly any money, because of the recession, but I had a job. That was really important in so many wa

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Experimental Archaeology

In a corner of University College Dublin’s suburban campus, archaeologists are building houses using thousand-year-old methods and casting bronze tools in fire pits using moulds they’ve made themselves. Brendan O’Neill, a PhD student in UCD’s School of Archaeology, has built a wooden roundhouse as part of his research. It took him about thirty days’ work over the course of ten months to complete. He wove hazel rods from a managed forest in the Irish midlands to create walls and a roof, which is topped with heather to help waterproof the structure. Inside the house, there’s a surprising amount of space. A central fireplace surrounded by s

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Science in the City

Recently, astronomers at the Alma telescope in Chile discovered a supermassive black hole near the centre of the Milky Way. It is said to be one hundred thousand times more massive than the sun and roughly 1.4 trillion kilometres in length. When we read a science story, it is almost always sensational news. However, a lot of science stories go under the radar of the ordinary non-scientist, primarily because we simply don’t understand it; it’s too complex unless it’s a news story on a topical subject that we can relate to, like space or cancer research. A number of outreach programmes set up by 

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Dublin’s most unusual student clubs & socs

Anyone for capoeira? Fancy an evening of food and drink? Or how about spending time with some serious Harry Potter fans? Universities and colleges in Dublin have a strange and eclectic mix of student clubs and societies. Yes, there’s soccer and GAA, but what about caving & potholing or sepak takraw, a type of kick volleyball? Yes, drama and debating are to be expected, but did you know that you can also join student societies with a focus on comedy, animation or meditation? Sam Blanckensee graduated from UCD last year. In his final year, he founded the

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Building the Dublin Dashboard

Imagine if Dublin had an instrument panel: a set of gauges and graphs that revealed to its residents the precise current state of their home town. Professor Rob Kitchin and his team at Maynooth did exactly that. And they built it, online. It’s called Dublin Dashboard. Dublin.ie: What’s on Dashboard right now that the ordinary person might be interested in? Robin Kitchen (RK): Probably the real time page where you can see how many spaces there are in the car parks or what the sound levels are or what the pollution levels are or how many bikes are in the bike stand, that kind of thing. The city is increas

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Language Dublin: Goethe-Institut

‘Since it opened in 1961’, says the brochure, ‘the Goethe-Institut has broadened the professional and personal horizons of 50,000 people who have attended its German courses’. Currently housed in Fitzwilliam Square while it awaits the refurbishment and extension of its Merrion Square HQ round the corner, its director is Dr Thomas Lier. Thomas is from Bavaria. Don’t call him ‘Bavarian’, though. That, Dublin.ie learns, would be like calling a Cornishman ‘English’. Because Thomas is really a Franconian, from Wurzburg, and Franconia was an autonomous region until Napoleon kicked it into Bavaria. ‘Wurzburg has a

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Dublin’s Masters in Creative Writing

Creative Writing Postgraduate Programs have long been a staple of the academic world in the United States. Prominent writers, among them Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, and Joyce Carol Oates, have worked as creative writing professors since as far back as the seventies. Yet despite Dublin’s literary heritage and wealth of authors, it has only recently come to be recognised as a centre of excellence for such courses; now it attracts scores of hopeful young writers from around the world every year. “You can’t teach people to be creative. You can only accelerate the pace at which people are developing creatively, which is a very different matter.” These a

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UCD’s Irish Folklore Centre

Folklore: leprechauns, legends and fireside stories, right? Not quite. If you go down to UCD today, you’ll find a very different story. From its origins with Irish folklore collectors who, from the 1920s, scrambled around the country on a mission to record traditions, the National Folklore Collection (NFC) has grown into one of the biggest and most impressive collections of folklore and oral traditions anywhere in the world. The collection itself consists of almost 4,000 volumes of bound folklore, much of it handwritten and a substantial portion of it collected by schoolchildren during a spec

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DCU’s Water Institute: Solving global problems

The water wars have begun. At Dublin City University, researchers are stepping up. Fiona Regan, professor of chemistry at DCU, is founder and director of the Water Institute which, in 2015, brought together researchers across a range of disciplines to carry out research on a wide range of national and global water problems. Many of these researchers are also lecturing both undergraduates and postgraduates. The devastating conflict in Syria was sparked by a water scarcity that pushed people into the cities and provoked unrest, the unrest in Yemen is rooted in a water crisis. Large parts of America and Australia

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What’s different about Dublin?

Every year, tens of thousands of people from over 130 countries come to study in Ireland’s universities, institutes of technology and colleges. What’s bringing them here and why are they choosing Ireland? Sheila Power is director of the Irish Council for International Students. She points out that overall statistics for the number of international students are hard to pin down, but says that we need to broaden the conversation out. Ireland is an attractive destination for international students because it is perceived as friendly and safe “Ireland is an attractive des

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