posted on: Thursday January 31, 2019
by Brian Garvey ’20
Brendan Cooney ’20 loves his Irish roots; he has always wanted to travel to Ireland and explore his history.
“I hadn’t left America before, and I was excited to see Dublin. I wanted to connect with my heritage, and I wanted to experience what it was like to live in the country where my ancestors were from,” says Cooney.
Cooney found, surprisingly, that he learned a lot just from small talk with the local people in the pubs. “I found that I really enjoyed the rich history of the pubs, and I engaged with many enriching conversations with locals.”
He even met a former Prime Minister of Ireland. “After my school-sponsored trip to Belfast, I was sitting at the pub when an older man recognized my American accent and started talking to me. He asked me if I knew who he was, and he introduced himself as Bertie Ahern, the former Prime Minister of Ireland. I shook his hand and took a picture with him, and we talked for hours about the traditional Irish sport, hurling. It was really cool.”
Dublin was certainly not all play and no work. Cooney worked as an economics intern for the Business & Finance Media Group, where he got a real crash course in Irish culture.
“It was definitely interesting and challenging working in Ireland. The workplace environment was very different from the U.S.”
Cooney had daily meetings and presentations with professionals much older than himself, and had to get used to a very different mentality and lifestyle. “The Irish people take lots of breaks during the day, and I had to get used to working weird hours with people who expected a lot from me. It was definitely really valuable experience.”
Cooney also did not just explore Ireland. He took advantage of the amazing cities throughout Europe, traveling everywhere from Barcelona to Belfast. Prague, in the Czech Republic, was his personal favorite. “I am a massive art fan, and the architecture and museums of the city were truly beautiful to see.”
Cooney also found the beauty of the churches across Europe to be astounding. “The churches were definitely one of my favorite parts of Europe. They were really beautiful and the history was incredible.”
Cooney’s advice to those going abroad in the future is to make as many new friends as you can and to travel as much as possible.
“Don’t just stick with the same kids from home; try to branch out and meet new people. I really connected with my classmates from all over the country, and I made lifelong friends. You should also travel as much as possible. While I may have had some early mornings and late flights home, it is well worth seeing the most beautiful cities on earth.”
Brendan’s time in Ireland was an experience he will never forget, with memories and friends to last a lifetime. But he is still happy to be back at Providence College. “I definitely missed being at Providence College; it made me appreciate the Friar Family more.” For Cooney, while Europe was amazing, there is no place like home.