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Cat in the Stax: Answering All Your Study Questions

By Ethan Shea

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It might seem like the semester just began, but believe it or not, in just a couple weeks it will be time for midterm exams. Luckily, that also means Fall Break will be at our doorstep in no time.

I hope everyone’s had the chance to get into the rhythm of their new daily routines. If so, we can all take advantage of this relatively calm time of the semester and prepare for the trials to come. One habit that’s crucial to surviving midterms is a productive study routine. At least for me, when it comes to lining up my idiosyncratic study tendencies neatly in a row, I’m always left with questions and concerns.

In general, I can never decide how I want to study. Where should I be studying? Should I be listening to music? What time is best to study?

For this week’s “Cat in the Stax” I decided to answer these questions once and for all. I hope you’re able to use the answers I found to improve your academic experience here at Villanova. Enjoy!

Does listening to music help or hurt study sessions?

A study carried out by the University of Wollongong in Australia concluded that the answer to this question depends on the music you’re listening to. Because music tends to reduce stress, students will be more likely to buckle down and focus with greater intensity when aurally occupied. This revelation disproved the complex theory that classical music stimulates specific parts of the human brain that make studying more efficient. Contrarily, just about any instrumental music can help you study if it improves your mood. Songs with lyrics tend to make reading comprehension a bit more difficult, so if possible, stay away from vocal performances.

Where is the best place to study?

At the risk of sounding a bit biased, I’ll posit that all the best places to study are located right here in Falvey Library, but I’m not just saying that because this is a Falvey blog. In fact, I’ve got science to back me up. The ability to retain information and concentration levels are increased when studying in new locations. Being in the same place over and over again does not stimulate the brain to the greatest possible extent in the same way that focusing on one subject for too long can lead to burnout. Studying in an area with very few distractions and relative quietude is also important to learning efficiently. Stimulation overload prevents you from focusing intently on anything because your focus spreads too thin.

Thankfully, Falvey Library has plenty of quiet spaces, such as Third and Fourth Floor Stacks in addition to the Reading Room. There are also many different places to study in Falvey, so you can try a new one everyday without rendering your mind weary!

When is the best time to study?

Odd as it may seem, research has shown that studying when you’re tired is actually helpful. For example, if you study right before bed, your brain will essentially be reviewing the material in your sleep, causing the information to soak in a bit deeper. On the other hand, studying after a workout session has its benefits as well. Because of the increased flow of oxygen and blood that exercise causes, our brains get neurological boosts immediately after exercise. With that being said, feel free to take a jog over to Falvey Memorial Library when it’s time to hit the books!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Appreciating Hispanic Visual Artists

By Ethan Shea

"Food City by Yunuen Cho"

“Food City” by Yunuen Cho

To keep with recent “Cat in the Stax” themes of exploring different forms of art, and to honor the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to call attention to a few visual artists of Latin-American descent.

Gaining access to these artists’ works was made easy with the help of Falvey’s Art History subject guide and a database called Artstor. Here, I was able to find plenty of images of paintings and sculptures by several artists. Scrolling through this database was like walking through a museum without ever leaving my desk, so if you enjoy visual art, I recommend you check it out! There are also plenty of art books located in our stacks that are a pleasure to thumb through.

Research aside, here are a few artists definitely worth knowing!

"Nuestra Senora de Las Iguanas" by Graciela Iturbide

“Nuestra Senora de Las Iguanas” by Graciela Iturbide

Graciela Iturbide

Graciela Iturbide has been featured in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as The J. Paul Getty Museum for her photography that focuses on the daily lives of indigenous people in Mexico. She is lauded for her ability to vividly document the lives of those she photographs in a manner that is not exploitative. Iturbide was born in Mexico City and introduced to photography as a child through her father, who would take pictures of Iturbide and her family members. Other points of inspiration for Iturbide are women’s rights and migration.

Doris Salcedo

"Untitled" by Doris Salcedo

“Untitled” by Doris Salcedo

Born in 1958, Doris Salcedo is a sculptor of Colombian descent who uses common household items to represent trauma and loss. Salcedo has witnessed family members go missing in her home nation of Colombia due to political turmoil, and she uses these personal, trumatic experiences to represent the feeling of emptiness loss brings. Salcedo has had her art featured in the Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the University Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico among several others. Earlier this year, Salcedo’s installation, Fragmentos, made headlines when the Colombian Ministry of Culture was accused of exploiting the piece for their own purposes, breaking from the anti-war messages carried by the piece.

"Cow Community" by Yunuen Cho

“Cow Community” by Yunuen Cho

Yunuen Cho

Based in New York City, Yunuen Cho is an Asian-American and Latina artist of Mexican descent, specifically of the Tarahumara people. Her piece featured here, Cow Community, is a painting inspired by Labor Day. There are many food-related elements in the piece that pay homage to the Mexican working class. Cho has several family members who are essential workers in the food industry, and this painting brings light to the fact that essential workers like them do not have the privilege of enjoying a day off like others. There are also references to specific historical events in the piece. The mushroom holding a flag with text that translates to “Land and Liberty” represents Emiliano Zapata, a leader of the Zapatista movement, a cause that fought against the Mexican government in the early 20th century in the name of agrarian rights. Cho was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, so many of her other pieces, such as Food City, are inspired by the experience of living in the American Southwest. You can find more of Yunuen Cho’s art here.

 

 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: What are you listening to?

By Ethan Shea

"man listening to music in headphones while reading"

Here at Falvey Memorial Library, we certainly emphasize the importance of reading. Film is also given a fair amount of attention, especially when a beloved book is adapted to the screen.

In fact, Falvey’s “Flick or Flip” series is dedicated to discussing exactly that. The art form that isn’t mentioned quite as much in literary circles is music, and personally, music is something I couldn’t do without for even one day. Whether I’m driving, studying, exercising, or just hanging out, I almost always have music playing.

I realized I may have gone a bit overboard with my listening habits when Spotify notified me back in 2017 that I had listened to a total of 108,455 minutes of music that year, which according to my calculations is over 75 days of constant music consumption. Keep in mind that these stats only include time spent listening to a single streaming platform.

I’ve since re-evaluated my admittedly excessive level of music consumption. Nevertheless, I stand by my belief that music is an indispensable art that can not only increase your productivity but bring countless hours of pleasure. On that note, here are a few albums released this year that I’ve been listening to.

"Album cover of the album 'Mood Valiant" by Hiatus Kaiyote"

“Mood Valiant” album cover

Mood Valiant – Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote is a group based in Melbourne that manages to pop up more often than you may think. Even if you have not heard the name of this band, you may have heard their music sampled by superstars such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Anderson .Paak. Their most recent release, Mood Valiant, stays true to their self-acclaimed “genre-fluid” style. This album’s neo-soul influence creates a groovy blend of natural sound that often feels like it was recorded by Mother Nature herself.

With song titles such as Flight of the Tiger LilyRose Water, and Stone and Lavender, the group is not shy about how they are influenced by the natural world and indigenous aboriginal imagery. My favorite track on this record is And We Go Gentle. I just can’t get enough of the lush, layered vocals and catchy bass line. This album’s relationship with nature is the reason why I believe this album is best listened to outdoors, so grab a pair of headphones and take a walk around campus while you soak in the tight 42-minute tracklist of Mood Valiant.

CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST – Tyler, the Creator

"Album cover of 'CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST' by Tyler, the Creator"

“CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” album cover

Fortunately for his fans, the LA based rapper, producer, and fashion designer (amongst many other titles) known as Tyler, the Creator, releases an album every two years like clockwork. Tyler’s been on a hot streak for a while now, and CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is no exception.

Tyler takes on yet another persona in this album. This time he calls himself Tyler Baudelaire, a man of class and exquisite taste who enjoys eating brioche in France and traveling in luxury cars across Europe. The theme of travel is present in this record from front to back. Admittedly, this thematic choice is rather odd given the fact that we’re in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, but I’ll allow the fictional Tyler Baudelaire to do as he pleases. The narrative of a messy love triangle that appears here and there throughout the record culminates on the track WILSHIRE, a spacey track that gives Tyler room to speak from the heart for over eight minutes.

My personal favorite, SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE, is two songs in one and blends smooth, soulful rap with bossa nova. Given the number of upbeat tunes on this record, I’d recommend playing this album at a party to give some life to the function.

"Album cover of 'The Turning Wheel' by Spellling"

“The Turning Wheel” album cover

The Turning Wheel – Spellling

The Turning Wheel is the first Spellling album I’ve listened to, and unfortunately, I have to admit that I never would have discovered the multitalented purveyor of progressive pop if it wasn’t for the famous internet critic Anthony Fantano giving her album a 10/10.

From the very beginning, in the opening track Little Deer, it is clear listeners are in for something special. Among an ensemble of strings and dreamy chimes, Spellling’s vocal performance is moving yet playful. My favorite song off The Turning Wheel, the 7 and a half minute track Boys at School, builds itself up with spiraling electric guitar riffs and eventually gives anxious audiences a breath of release with a triumphant bridge that makes use of a powerful horn section. This album is something you have to let marinate to fully appreciate, which is why I enjoy listening to it during long car rides.

Sling – Clairo

"Album cover of 'Sling' by Clairo"

“Sling” album cover

The second full-length album from Clairo, the 22-year-old songwriter who rose to fame after her single Pretty Girl went viral in 2017, is good news for her fans, as she stays true to her indie, bedroom pop roots while growing as a writer and vocalist alike. There is a healthy amount of folk influence in this album, which is especially apparent in the track Reaper. This track’s soothing guitar melody accompanies Clairo’s subtle and emotive voice. My personal favorite track, Amoeba, is in my opinion, the most danceable song on the record. I love the keys that are reminiscent of a ’70s funk song, and the flow of Clairo’s lyrics are unbelievably catchy. Because most of this album is relatively low-key, I’ve loved listening to it while studying. It can also set the tone for a relaxing night of playing board games with friends.

Now that I’ve shared a few recent releases I’ve been enjoying, it’s important to note that reading and music are not mutually exclusive. There is an entire section of Falvey’s subject guide dedicated to music, which can be found here, so rest assured that Falvey Library will have the answers to all your tuneful questions!

Feel free to share what you’ve been listening to lately in the comments below. I’m always looking for recommendations!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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Cat in the Stax: Wrapping Up Your Summer Reading

By Ethan Shea

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The weather may feel like mid-July, but the beginning of September means summer is winding down.  Hopefully you were able to squeeze some summer reading into your seasonal schedules. This summer I enjoyed spending time sitting in the sun with a book in hand and focused on some classics I had on my “To Be Read” pile.

If you get the chance, I recommend you do the same and grab one of these classic reads at Falvey Memorial Library!

The Old Man and the Sea

Short novel packing a big punch. As one of Ernest Hemingway’s most celebrated works, The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and contributed to his 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. The story tells of Santiago, an old man whose life is dedicated to fishing, as he braves the sea in search of the catch of a lifetime. If you’d like to experience the story in other forms, it has been adapted three times: in 1958 as a film, as a miniseries in 1990, and as an animated short in 1999 which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Giovanni’s Room

James Baldwin’s 1956 novel explores the life of David, an American man, as he travels to Paris and experiences a sexual identity crisis while his girlfriend is away. Baldwin contemplates issues of masculinity and identity while elegantly telling of the tragic, passionate, and complex relationship between David and Giovanni. This story was controversial before it was even published. In fact, Baldwin’s publishers wanted the novel to be burnt because they feared a story about the gay experience would disappoint the African-American audiences Baldwin had reached out to earlier with texts such as Go Tell It on the Mountain and Notes of a Native Son. Baldwin has authored many extraordinary pieces of writing, but Giovanni’s Room stands out as a timeless story that took bravery to bring to life.

Although summer isn’t officially over until Sept. 22, I’ve always felt that autumn begins when the academic year does. Nevertheless, you still have some time to accomplish your summer reading goals. No matter what book you decide to end the season with, I hope you enjoy yourself and stay cool!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Classics To Read for Christmas in July

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By Jenna Newman

We’re celebrating Christmas in July, so the feeling of cheer never needs to disappear. Light a candle, snuggle up with one of these books, which are great all year round! 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This novel is the epitome of a Christmas classic, which is why it’s taken the coveted spot of first on my book list this week. Dickens’ classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been adapted for every audience and medium. My personal favorite adaptation is the Mickey Mouse Disney take starring Mickey and Scrooge McDuck. However, if you haven’t read the classic in a while (or ever!) it’s definitely worth the read this holiday season. 

The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford

If you’ve read, and loved, A Christmas Carol then the next book for you to read is The Man Who Invented Christmas. Standiford tells the story behind the story, including how Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in a last attempt to save his career. If you like to see stories on a big screen, The Man Who Invented Christmas became a film in 2017, although it hasn’t picked up as much momentum as one may have expected. 

The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien

Whether you’re a Lord of the Rings fan or not, The Father Christmas Letters is worth pulling off the shelf this holiday season. The novel is a compilation of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children each year at Christmastime. Each letter was written either from Father Christmas or a polar bear. Tolkien creates a world for his children, aiding in their belief of Santa Claus and all things having to do with the North Pole, which creates for a magical read for all.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Once again, I’ve found a way to throw my favorite book Little Women onto a book list. If you haven’t picked up the book yet, Christmas is a perfect time to read it for the first time. Little Women was originally two separate stories, Little Women and Good Wives. The first original novel and first half of what we know today as Little Women is book-ended by the March girl’s Christmas day celebrations. Greta Gerwig’s movie adaptation was also released Christmas Day 2019!

 


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

 

 

 


 


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Cat in the Stax: Reflection on the 2020-21 School Year

And with that the semester is officially overall papers submitted, all exams completed and all library books returned (hopefully!) As I sit here now writing my last Cat in the Stax for this academic year, I can’t help but reflect on the last year and all of the changes and growth that’s occurred. ""

Entering my first year of graduate school at a new school in the midst of a seemingly never-ending pandemic was definitely not the ideal scenario I imagined. That being said, I can’t help being grateful and confident that everything worked out the way it was supposed to. 

I’m grateful for the team at Falvey that I’m a part of and how they’ve encouraged my creativity at every point. I would say that by nature I am a reader and a writer, but that’s not something I’ve been able to fully tap into for the last handful of years. I was a little intimidated by the thought of rolling out a new and interesting Cat in the Stax each week, but here we are, and I think I did an okay job. Having and making the space for creativity is really all you need to tap into the inspiration ever around you. 

Falvey has become the center of my Villanova experience thus far. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that other than my tour and COVID testing, I’ve only been inside Falvey and Garey Hall. That being said, Falvey is not the worst place to be spending all my time. Watching people continuously move through the library, studying, talking, and grabbing coffee from Holy Grounds gave a (albeit slightly off) sense of normalcy. 

And the best part? I’m not going anywhere and get to spend both the summer and all next year with this incredible team in Falvey! 

Congratulations to all for completing a pretty rough year, grab your sunglasses and stack of summer reads and relax a little because we deserve it!


jenna newman headshotJenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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Cat in the Stax: Children’s Book Week

This week marks the first of two Children’s Book Weeks in 2021. For the last three years, it has been celebrated twice a yearonce in the spring, in May, and again in the fall, in November. Starting in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest running national literacy initiative, bringing together authors, publishers, booksellers, libraries, and, most importantly, young readers. 

Cat in the Stax, Jenna Newman, got started on reading at a very young age

Reading has always been a huge part of my life and, especially, my childhood. Whether it was relating to the elementary school woes of Junie B. Jones or traveling around the world in a treehouse with Jack and Annie, curling up with a book has always been a favorite pastime. Beyond generating fond memories, the reading you did as a child is crucial in developing your values, enhancing your imagination, and helping you learn resilience at a young age. 

Our reading time may be made up of more research articles and textbooks than 100-page chapter books, but we can still jump in and celebrate Children’s Book Week this year and every year!

  • Take a break, read a throwback: Sometimes, especially during finals, you just need that sense of accomplishment of completing a task, but also final exams and papers keep you from starting a new side project. Try taking a break and picking up a favorite childhood book to read. It’ll rest your mind from academics and when you finish it in an hour, you’ll feel accomplished.
  • Share a book with a young reader: With the semester coming to a close, maybe you’re heading home to a younger sibling or have a babysitting job lined up for the summer. Do some research and share a book, whether a classic or something new, with a young reader. A kid is never too young to start to enjoy reading. 
  • Join in the celebrations: Check out Every Child’s a Reader’s website to see ways you can get involved in Children’s Book Week. The website also has Superpower Book Lists so you can help young readers in your life find the perfect new book when you get home for the summer.


Fun Fact: Falvey has The Boxcar Children, Books 1-13 available digitally for some perfect throwback reading!


jenna newman headshotJenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

 

 

 


 


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Cat in the Stax: National Parks Week

Not only is next week Earth Week, but it’s also National Parks Week, so get ready for a list of ways you can celebrate both the earth and our parks, whether it’s through picking up a new book to read or finding time to get outside and enjoy nature.

Activities to Celebrate 

Villanova is lucky enough to be situated only 15 minutes from one of Pennsylvania’s national parks—Valley Forge National Park. This week or weekend get together a group of your close friends, find someone with a car and make the drive over to Valley Forge to walk around and enjoy nature. Not only is this a great way to celebrate National Parks, but it also lets you get outside, clear your head and refocus for all of the end of semester studying and papers that lie ahead. 

Villanova has a wide variety of Earth Week events going on, some of them starting as early as this week, and all of them are worth attending; however, I wanted to highlight another event that gets you outside and looking at nature, even if it’s not at a National Park. Next Thursday, April 22, Villanova’s horticulturist, Hugh Weldon will be leading a tour of the trees around campus. More details and registration can be found here.

Books to Read 

The Falvey collection has a wide range of National Parks Travel Guides that you can reserve and pick up. The collection has guides for everything you need to know for parks from Shenandoah National Park to Glacier National Park. With only a month left of the semester, now is the perfect time to grab some guide books and start planning a summer road trip to a National Park near or far!

Fun Fact: Did you know each day of National Parks Week has its own theme?

The National Park Service website has a list with themes for each day of National Park week as well as other ideas for you to celebrate. Below are the themes for each day.

April 17 – Park Rx Day

April 18 – VIP (Volunteers In Parks) Sunday

April 19 – Military Monday

April 20 – Transformation Tuesday

April 21 – Wayback Wednesday

April 22 – Earth Day

April 23 – Friendship Friday

April 24 – Junior Ranger Day

April 25 – BARK Ranger Day

Let us know how you plan on celebrating both Earth Week and National Parks Week next week!


jenna newman headshotJenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

 

 

 


 


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Cat in the Stax: National Library Week

We’re officially halfway through National Library Week! There’s something about libraries that sticks with you throughout life, whether it’s memories of getting your first ever library card or late nights spent writing papers and studying for exams. For this week’s Cat in the Stax I’m going to reminisce on some of my favorite library memories and factors that make a great library.

My first library card was from the Mercer County Library, and I remember practicing writing my name over and over again because my mom said once I could write my own name, I could get my library card. Despite having not been there in over 10 years, I can still distinctly remember where everything is located. Every summer they would always have different events for elementary students that promoted reading and learning. One factor that makes a great library is the variety of programming and events that they have available, whether in-person or virtual!

During my undergraduate years, I spent quite a bit of time at the University of Delaware’s Morris Library. My four years there included many late night study sessions and trying to snag the best study spots between classes. Another mark of a quality library is definitely study spots and study rooms. My roommate and I would always meet up in our pre-booked study room after classes to study before heading back to our apartment!

Maybe I’m a little biased, but my favorite library right now is definitely Falvey! Beyond the extensive programming and study spots, Falvey also has an amazing group of staff and librarians that are always willing to help with papers and research projects. Plus, having Holy Grounds there to get a mid-study caffeine fix has become a deal-breaker for me as far as study spots go. Make sure to head over to Falvey sometime this week to celebrate National Library Week and let us know what you think makes a great library on social media or in the comments!


jenna newman headshotJenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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Cat in the Stax: St. Patrick’s Day

By Jenna Newman

I hope you’re rocking your green today because it’s St. Patrick’s Day! This week I wanted to dive deeper into the history of St. Patrick’s Day and answer some FAQs about St. Patrick’s Day and typical ways of celebrating.

Who was St. Patrick? Saint Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland and its national apostle. He was brought to Ireland as a slave when he was 16, but later escaped. Later, he returned to Ireland and is thought to have brought Christianity to Ireland.

When did people start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Since the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been celebrating the feast day of St. Patrick on March 17; however, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade actually took place in the United States! Records show that in 1601 there was a parade in the Spanish colony that is now St. Augustine, Florida. In 1772, homesick Irish soldiers in the English militia marched in New York City to honor the saint – celebrations have only grown from there!

What’s the significance of shamrocks? One of the most told legends regarding St. Patrick is that he used a three-leaf Irish clover (a shamrock!) to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people when he brought Christianity to the country. 

What do leprechauns have to do with St. Patrick’s Day? Legends of leprechauns and their pots of gold at the end of rainbows go back centuries, although it was more recently that they became tied to St. Patrick’s Day. One theory has to do with a movie Walt Disney released in 1959 called Darby O’Gill and the Little People, which was about an old Irish man and his experiences with magical leprechauns. This movie became increasingly popular in the United States right around the time that celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day also were becoming more popular. Since St. Patrick’s Day is about celebrating Irish culture and leprechauns are a large part of Irish folklore, the connection is fitting. 

Why do you wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? It all has to do with the leprechauns! Leprechauns are known for their trickery and supposedly pinch everyone they come across. But, leprechauns also cannot see the color green, so we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day to avoid being pinched! Green is also one of the prominent colors in the Irish flag.

As part of your celebrations, I encourage you to take a deeper look into one of Falvey’s digital exhibits, Rambles, Sketches, Tours: Travellers & Tourism in Ireland. This exhibit highlights Irish travel narratives and related materials, primarily from the Joseph McGarrity Collection, in Falvey Memorial Library’s Special Collections.


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


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Last Modified: March 17, 2021