Analysis of Impact / Covid-19 Life in Lockdown

Lockdown Fashion competition

We are delighted to announce the winners of our Staff and Student Lockdown fashion competition, Ella Jepson (student category) and Susan Templeton (staff category). Take a look at the winners and honourable mentions below!


‘Gig attire’ by Ella Jepson (BA in Philosophy and Politics)


Susan Templeton (HAPP Marketing and Student recruitment), Undeterred by the snow!

See below our honourable mentions in staff and student categories – thank you to everyone who participated!

George Susil-Pryke (BA Philosophy and Politics)

George: Here’s me—as you can see—in the famous McClay Library with a rather outdated Halloween mask not in keeping with the times. I’ve got a sentimental attachment for this mask, and it hasn’t been able to rid itself of me. This is partly for two reasons: one being that it’s the second mask that I’ve owned for a substantial amount of time, the second reason being that my mother (who has an impressive collection of masks) kindly donated it to me after Halloween out of her frustration with me using those disposable one’s. Thanks, Mum!

If you see me trundling around McClay (which is where I spend most of my time) I hope it brings you a smile, because it does to me too. If it’s being cleaned or drying, I’ll be wearing my Christmas one-potentially inside-out admittedly, out of non-Christmassy induced sheepishness. (That’s the real beauty of this one, it doesn’t have that inside-out button!)

Maruska Svasek (Reader in Anthropology)

Maruska: I took this photograph in the early summer of 2020, when, like many others in Northern Ireland, I decided to start a new hobby to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. Sea swimming is a great way to gain a sense of freedom at a time of restrictions and lockdown. The only problem is getting in and out of the wetsuit! In this picture I tried it on for the first time – the label is still attached to it.

Sparky Booker (Lecturer in Irish History)

Sparky: For me lockdown fashion has been all about being warm. Nothing matches on anyone but we need all the layers we can get!

Tricia Lock (HAPP Student Experience and International Student Support)

Tricia: Dressed up like a teddy Bear

To hide away my unwashed hair

So cosy and warm I will indulge

To cover up my lockdown bulge!

For my expanding stomach is due no less

To the numerous buns I did digest

Working nonstop in front of my PC

Has had this effect on me –

and I drank too much tea!

Francine Rossone de Paula (Lecturer in International Relations)

Francine: My lockdown fashion is “half dressed-up” now that classes started. I was meeting students this morning for their first tutorials.

Life in Lockdown

Invitation for HAPP students to join Boston College’s ‘Global Conversations’

Students at Boston College are launching a new ongoing project called Global Conversations, which connects small groups of students (8-12 total, half from Boston College and half from another university around the world) for informal one-hour conversations about a range of topics that matter to them, and that they choose. Each session will have a specific topic and opening questions drafted by conversation leaders from each university, but can range freely as participants see fit. Most conversations will be held in English, but some will also be conducted in other languages. Initially, conversations will be organized in six major themes: 

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Racial Justice & Decolonization
  • Protests & Social Change
  • Environmental Justice
  • Globalization & Global Culture(s)
  • Migration & Immigration

This is an invitation for students at HAPP to participate in these Global Conversations. 

Each conversation needs a student leader from each university; together they will determine three main questions for the session, recruit 4-5 other students to join them (or simply take them from a sign-up list), schedule the conversation and confirm the technology (we will set these up using Zoom unless other tools are better in specific contexts). If you are interested, please reach out to one of the Boston College students who are helping to lead the project: 

Analysis of Impact / Covid-19 Life in Lockdown

A new holiday tradition?

As is the case for many of us, this year’s holiday season will be a strange one for me. I won’t be able to go home to the US to see my family or have Christmas dinner with in-laws in Dublin or go to any of the usual holiday parties.

(FlickrLickr creative commons licence)

I was excited to see, however, that this year I will get to participate in a millennia-old December tradition that I’ve never been able to see before. Every year I enter into the lottery to spend a morning during the winter solstice in the chamber of Newgrange – a passage tomb in co. Meath dating to around 3300 BCE. I have never been successful, which is hardly surprising, since the chamber fits only 20 people or so and there were over 30,000 entries in the 2019 lottery.

This year the in-person event is cancelled, but the OPW (Office of Public Works) is planning to livestream from the chamber on the morning of the solstice on Monday 21st December: – OPW announces closure of Newgrange for Winter Solstice Sunrise (

Provided there is sunshine that morning – never a sure thing in the Irish winter – light will travel through the roofbox (see below: the small opening above the entrance to the tomb), along the stone lined passage way into the interior of the tomb and illuminate the main chamber for about 17 minutes. The alignment of the rising sun and the roofbox only occurs at the solstice and a few days on either side of it. The astronomical and architectural sophistication of the tomb, almost 1000 years older than the pyramids at Giza, is remarkable and although I have visited and stood in the chamber several times, I’ve never seen it at the solstice when its purpose is fulfilled.

, Creative commons licence)

The first person to see this illumination in the modern period was archaeologist Michael O’Kelly in 1967. He returned to see it every year for the rest of his life and described it in 1969:

“Between the bright sky and the long glittering silver ribbon of the Boyne the land looks black and featureless. Great flocks of starlings are flying across the sky from their night time roosts to their day time feeding places. The effect is very dramatic as the direct light of the sun brightens and casts a glow of light all over the chamber. I can even see parts of the roof and a reflected light shines right back in to the back of the end chamber.”

(Professor Michael J. O’Kelly excavated and restored Newgrange)

(OPW creative commons licence)

I know that the livestream won’t be able to replicate the experience of physically being in the tomb itself, but I am grateful to have the chance to be part of this remarkable event this December. And maybe next year I’ll win the Newgrange lottery.

I hope everyone in HAPP, staff and students, has a safe and restorative holiday break with whatever new Covid-era holiday traditions you have planned.

Reading Week

What I’m reading… HAPP students and staff

Ruth Hewitson, PhD in Philosophy

I finally got around to reading Love in the Time of Cholera. One quote from it resonated with the topic of my thesis, which is whether competent children should be allowed to make decisions regarding their own medical treatment (as competent adults do).

‘It was not easy for her to establish real differences between children and adults, but in the last analysis she preferred children, because their judgement was more reliable’ 

Photo by Ross Angus, Creative Commons license

Ian Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Irish History

This week, I’m working on the introduction for a group of articles that I’m submitting with some colleagues to a journal called History of European Ideas. Our theme is the process by which European states made themselves sacred during Europe’s early modernity. As part of this work I’m reading a set of very entertaining lectures that the late Tony Judt published as The burden of responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century (Chicago, 1998), because the relationship between modern politics and the sacred was something that interested both Albert Camus and Raymond Aron.

Last week, I bought a copy of Fernando Cervantes, Conquistadores: A new history (Allen Lane, 2020) as a way of up-dating my knowledge of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and I’d recommend it as a lively and perceptive book.

Finally, I’m now half way through James Joyce’s Ulysses! I’ve never read it before, and hadn’t realised what a political book it is. The cyclops episode is one of the most angry denunciations of Irish nationalism that I’ve ever read. I’m also reading John Banville’s Snow (London, 2020), which is a bit more heavy-handed than his better novels, but still entertaining.

By Shaun Calhoun, Creative Commons licence

John Barry, Professor of Politics and International Relations

These are books I have on my reading list for reading week. I’m particularly looking forward to finishing the biography of William Wilberforce, as part of my interest and seeing the parallels between the struggle to end the slave trade and contemporary efforts to retire the fossil fuel industry.

I can already see parallels but of course differences! Located around the intersection of political economy, power, ideology, ethics, and the role of the state…

Sparky Booker, Lecturer in Medieval Irish History

Most of my academic reading this week relates to my research on the later middle ages in Ireland, but I’m also enjoying this study about a law enacted in Ireland much earlier – in the year 697. The law was intended to protect non-combatants during times of war and is also known as the ‘Law of the Innocents’. This is some of the earliest law relating to conduct during warfare – and who should be protected from violence – rather than to whether a war was just or not in the first place.

Also loving this beautifully illustrated book about an accidental visit of Archduke Ferdinand – a young man who later became Holy Roman Emperor – to Kinsale, co. Cork in 1518. His ship was blown off course by a storm and he sheltered in Kinsale for several days with his entourage, a member of which, Laurent Vital wrote an account of their stay.

Accounts of Ireland and the Irish from the early modern period that aren’t hostile commentaries from English authors are rare and Vital’s comments on fashion, daily life and customs in Kinsale are particularly fascinating. The strangest thing to me, given the Irish climate, is that Vital records that both men and women in Kinsale wore clothes that did not cover their chests. He writes that ‘the men have their shirts open down to the belt, without sleeves so that they have bare arms’ and that ‘young women and girls have their chests naked to the waist; it is as common there to see or touch the breast of a girl or woman, as it is to touch their hand.’ His comment on this was (perhaps surprisingly) not critical, noting ‘and so, there are as many different fashions and customs as there are countries’.

An honest account of my reading week must mention some of the books that I read every evening with my kids: these are two current favourites. The Puffling book (besides having the wonderful word ‘puffling’ in the title) is set on Skellig Michael and at one point the puffling dances atop a beehive hut in the early medieval monastic site. The three year old is not interested in the history side of things but I enjoy it!


Winners of the HAPP International Student photo competition: Arriving in Belfast


By Niamh Stewart, UG in International Studies and Politics

Niamh Stewart: Tinted Wheel I’ve just come back to Belfast for my final year of undergrad. When I moved here two years ago, I fell in love with the walkability of the city. I liked that I could walk around for an afternoon down Lisburn or through the city centre and find new shops and cafes to return to and try. This photo was taken in the Botanic Gardens through the tinted lens of my sunglasses. I was surprised to see the Ferris wheel when I got back but it was a nice reminder that life here is going to keep going despite Covid. I was unsure about leaving home and coming back to the city, but sitting outside in the gardens with my new flatmates in the shadow of the Ferris wheel made me feel so content for awhile. The unfiltered photo came out looking quite retro which I liked!


By Matthew Fishback, MA in International Relations

Matthew Fishback: City Refuge Bog Meadows Nature Reserve is an oasis in the middle of a city. This small wetland is a place to step away from traffic and noise, while literally being in between the motorway and a neighborhood. Being among grazing cows, sheep, and goats took me back to where I grew up and I loved it. If anyone needs to get away for a minute this reserve is an amazing spot to sit back and watch nature move by.


By Julia Newton, MA in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice

Julia Newton: Quarantine Although I knew I wasn’t looking forward to quarantine, when I arrived in early September I had no idea what the most painful part of my first two weeks in Belfast would be. When I finally escaped (aka left when I was legally allowed to do so), I walked all over the city to soak up my new home for a year. I walked over 17,000 steps, after two weeks of a daily average of about 250. I nearly fell over from exhaustion that night and was sure I had caught Covid (I hadn’t). But even so, then – and as much as possible in the few weeks since – walking around the City Centre has been the most peaceful part of this transition. Change and adjusting and culture shock are really hard sometimes. But Belfast is beautiful. And walking helps.


Arriving in Belfast: views from HAPP International students

This September the International Student Experience team at HAPP ran a photo competition for International students with the theme: ‘Arriving in Belfast’. Below are three of the wonderful entries from our International student community.

By Clare French, MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security

Clare French: A New View of Belfast
Arriving in Belfast this time around was unusual given the pandemic. My uncle picked me up at Glengall street and I was grateful to get the soggy, wrinkled mask off of my face. While we made our way through, the memories crept up one by one as if the city was waving back at me. Visions of date nights, Halloween, and Tesco picnics in Botanic filled my mind one by one. But I knew this time would be different. I’ll be here permanently and my interpretation of the city has to be more realistic. Now that I am a resident rather than a visitor, I see this city differently. I see myself splurging on dinner in Victoria’s Square, going for runs in Ormeau Park, studying at Common Grounds, and finding little reminders of home, even if its just a bag of Goldfish.

By Solyane Michaut, Undergraduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Solyane Michaut: On the top of the world I first came in the city with my dad to visit Queen’s in February. It rained a lot, was very cold and extremely windy. And yet, I loved it. In fact I loved it so much that I decided to come here for three years! The first two weeks were dedicated to the visit of my room, the corridor, the living room and the kitchen. That’s on self-isolation… But as soon as I got out, I have been able to enjoy Belfast in its best autumn colours, and start to meet amazing people. From the castle to the MAC with a friend, strolling by cafe and bookstores, saying that I loved everything would be doing an affront to the way I really feel. I’m living a dream, my dream, and it can only get better.

By Mohaddeseh Ziyachi, PhD in Cognition and Culture

Mohaddeseh Ziyachi: Campus
I have fallen in love with this Campus since before coming to Belfast! Every day that I walk to the office, I find the Lanyon building and the graduate school more gorgeous than the day before!