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Canada ✔ Chicago week 1 ✔ Conference ✔

I’m sat in the cafe of Hotel Lincoln waiting out the gap between checkout here and check-in at the next place I’m staying and I have just found out that refills only cost $1 so I might be here for a while! As I don’t want to desert my massive suitcase to dive into the library, I thought it was the perfect time for an update.

Happy 2019, by the way!

This journey began on 27 December 2018. I left you in the last post enjoying a veggie sausage sandwich on the train to Euston. I made it to Heathrow (FIVE HOURS EARLY, ridiculous even for me) despite a dizzy episode which left me dragging off layers and then crouching, sweat pouring off my face, on the tube. It was delightful. Regardless, I made it to Heathrow and then onto the 9 hour 40 minute flight to Vancouver. I watched Deadpool 2 (excellent and the lady next to me also enjoyed it…it was “meta”), Crazy Rich Asians, and something else that I enjoyed but have now forgotten.

Arriving in Vancouver, I was reunited with the spectacular Danielle!!! 😍🇨🇦

Day one in Vancouver was cloudy and misty but everything was shiny because of the excitement – I mean, look at those grins! We bought matching earrings, visited Granville Island, sampled much Canadian cheese in the market, and then had a delightful lunch (clam chowder and wine wine, mmmm) by the water.

As you’ve probably realised, this blog is temporarily just becoming my personal photo album! Sorry but not sorry!

On day two we went to Whistler in search of mountains. There were no mountains, even though we were up a mountain. But I got a delightful apple turnover (one of my favourite things about Canada is how available these are!) and got to pose with the Olympic rings. I met one of Danielle’s lovely friends and had ethnic identity chat which is some of my favourite type of chat! On the way down, the clouds began to lift as we chased the darkness… Mountains and islands were spotted!

Day 3 was bright and lacking in clouds. Thankfully. I was enjoying feeling like I was in Dublin but Danielle was definitely getting worried that I thought that the mountains were a collective fiction that Vancouverans were promoting in some weird tourism attempt. However, Sunday 30th December proved that this was not the case! We headed to Gastown, the historic area of Vancouver, waved at Hull-man Gassy Jack who established the area, ate some delicious food, marvelled at the steam clock, and enjoyed the views.

31st December was the morning to enjoy views and finish ‘Washington Black’ before heading to the beach and then home to get ready for the New Year’s Eve party at Mamie Taylor’s. Suffice to say, there were highly entertaining people, yummy drinks, and (eventually) much dancing to excellently chosen tunes! We danced the night away and then headed back for a day of watching Lord of the Rings and eating cheese and banana bread.

Then, it was off to Chicago with me! The American Historical Association was calling.

Chicago has had gorgeous weather and, though it is currently raining, it’s been hard to drag myself in to the conference. Still, I have met and reunited with some brilliant people and scholars! I presented some research on Irish schooling in Chicago in the nineteenth century in a hotel which has loads of links to Irish ethnic associational culture which was fab…and I was excited. I got some really helpful questions and thoroughly enjoyed being on a panel with Hidetaka Hirota and Jill Bender!

The highlight of the conference (other than meeting great people and listening to David Blight talking about Civil War and Reconstruction memory) was the Schools as Urban History tour that I went on yesterday. We went to Lucy Flowers Technical School (hugely important), Carter Harrison Technical School, and Whitney M. Young School. It was an intellectually stimulating and generally fascinating way to explore the West Side (where many of my Irish schools were and are based), consider the ethnic and racial dynamics of Chicago during the 20th century, and discuss the ways that we can and do use schools as spaces for studying urban history and sites of ethnic integration or separation. I loved it!

Yesterday finished with a trad session in an Irish pub in Lincoln Park courtesy of an Irish historian friend, Sara, who not only played but let me quiz her on her research on Irish music throughout the diaspora.

So, on to the next stage of this trip. Research!

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