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We Have Niall!

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Croke ParkCroke ParkAlice and SiobhanWe love Niall!Croke ParkOn Sunday, the #ILE15 students were ecstatic to find out they would have an opportunity to lie in until 1 PM if they wanted. They Irish Life Experience Team keep the students very busy, so it was nice for the students to relax in the morning if they wanted. Eddie, Margaret, Owen, and Robert were the only four to make it to breakfast for half nine. A few others decided to wake up shortly after and head to the Liffey Valley Shopping Center for some java and much needed WiFi at Starbucks.

There was excitement and a good buzz in the air, as the students got ready for the Leinster Finals at Croke Park. The Senior Match was at 2 PM and Dublin and Westmeath would be facing off in the hopes to advance to the All-Ireland Football Final. While many of the students have been persuaded by a few of the ILE’s friends that Dublin was the team to root for, there were four Westmeath fans that decided to put their whole heart and soul into supporting the underdogs. Since One Direction boy band member, Niall Horan, is from Westmeath, Johanna, Kent, Molly, and Sheila thought it was apropos to cheer for his county team. They borrowed the ILE’s life sized cutout of Niall and even painted his face with the team colors of maroon and white. They also made a sign that said, “We have Niall, so who is really winning?”

The other students bought Dublin flags, jerseys, and plaits to show their pride for the capital’s team. Many even donned shades of blue paint on their faces for the Big Smoke. There was a lot of rivalry going into Croker, as the students have really embraced the GAA culture. With chants of Westmeath (Clap, Clap…), Up the Dubs, and Come on Ye Boys in Blue, the energy was undeniable.

Before the game started, the ILE students said goodbye to Scones for a few days. The students were sad to see her go, but she will rejoin the group in Galway. The ILE also had a few surprise guests join the group. Our Ryan, who is from Our Tom’s (Angie’s brother) band and Patrick, who is Alice’s brother came along to join in the fun.

The nerves that were beginning to roll down off Hill 16 quickly dissipated, and the game soon fizzled out after the first half. In fact, there were only four scores in the final 28 minutes of play. Dublin set their sights on an All-Ireland quarter-final; Westmeath began to plan for a Round 4 qualifier and their own shot at a place in the last eight. After 70 minutes and blitz battling Westmeath, Dublin clinched their 10th title of 11 seasons with a score of 19 to 6. “Dublin are the kings of Leinster,” said Rebecca. “Even though the game wasn’t too suspenseful, it was an amazing atmosphere and one of my favorite things we have done yet,” said Kelton. Josey said that Gaelic football games are 100x better than American football games.

Another surprise was when Johanna, Kent, and Molly got their picture taken with the Sportsfile newspaper holding up the life size cut out of Niall. Hopefully, they will make the front page this week. #Celebrities.

After hearing the Dublin celebratory speeches and some popular Dublin songs of Molly Malone and Rare Old Time, the ILE exited out of Croke Park and made their way back to the bus. They made sure to take lots of pictures enroute.

Once back at King’s Hospital, the ILE went to dinner for a delicious meal of chicken or fish, potatoes, and vegetables. Our Miley was thrilled, because they even had his favorite for dessert-jelly donuts. After three jelly donuts and some powdered sugar in his beard, Miley exclaimed this was his most favorite day yet!

The #ILE15 Talent Show was next on the agenda. There were some amazing performances from drama groups and the students were very impressed with the Staff’s skit. Robert said he couldn’t wait to put his video up of the staff on every social media site he had with hashtags galore. Alice tinkled the ivories, Evan read a poem, John played the guitar, and Margaret showed off some of her flexible moves on the dance floor. We also had performances from Casey’s Advanced Irish Dancers (Clare, Molly, and Sheila) to One Direction’s-Best Song Ever and the Rump Shakers-a lip syncing/dance battle that was absolutely hilarious. We were all blown away by Mike’s stellar dance moves when he started throwing shapes and booting shaking on the floor. Where did that come from? Not to mention, there were some amazing singers. Angie and Robert sang a duet of Tell Me Ma, Laura sang Frozen, Siobhan sang Valerie, Josey sang Gunpowder on Lead, while Julia sang the Bird Song. The ILE Staff was blown away by the students. They are so talented!

The ILE concluded the evening with some announcements, preparing their laundry, and getting ready for their last class day tomorrow.

To Arthur!

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Guinness BreweryDSC01890Tom's BandTom's BandTom's Band“When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.” -James Joyce

On Saturday, the students found out just exactly what James Joyce meant. The students awoke and had breakfast at half eight-a nutritious meal of cereal and fruit. Afterwards, they boarded their chariot of a Barton’s bus at nine-headed for Dublin City Center.

The students couldn’t wait to explore Ireland’s capital and do some much needed souvenir shopping. After being dropped off on Kildare Street, the students walked to Nassau Street to get the Dublin Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour. This was a great way to see the city and many students raced up to the top story of the bus to get a bird’s eye view. Many students rode the bus for about an hour, before getting off at the Guinness Brewery for a self guided tour, while others decided to do a full loop of the city and go straight to Grafton Street for some shopping.

The Brewery was founded in 1759 in Dublin, Ireland, by Arthur Guinness. Originally leased in 1759 to Arthur Guinness at £45 per year for 9,000 years, St. James’s Gate has been the home of Guinness ever since. It became the largest brewery in Ireland in 1838, and the largest in the world by 1886, with an annual output of 1.2 million barrels. Although no longer the largest brewery in the world, it is still the largest brewer of stout in the world. The company has since bought out the originally leased property, and during the 19th and early 20th centuries the brewery owned most of the buildings in the surrounding area-including many streets of housing for brewery employees and offices associated with the Brewery.

The students that decided to do the Guinness Brewery were amazed by the vastness of the Brewery-7 stories tall. They slowly took their time meandering through the different flights and learning about the process of one of Ireland’s biggest money makers. Ally said she was amazed by the cool advertising. Owen said he thought it was pretty nifty how the Brewery resembles a pint glass-with the head of the pint being the Gravity Bar.

Clare M. and Margaret were the only 18 year olds on the trip, so they were allowed to go up to the Perfect Pint Pour floor with ILE Staff and put their skills to the test. They both received certificates for the crash course they took. They then met the rest of the students in the Gravity Bar, where they had a few sips of Guinness and the others enjoyed a complimentary soda. Johanna said she loved the 360 degree views of Dublin from the top.

After the tour, students got back on the bus and made their way into the city center. Many of them decided to hit Grafton and O’Connell Streets and pick up presents for family and friends. Others went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. A few others, decided to enjoy their time exploring and find some funky coffee shops in the Temple Bar area. Miles and Taryn took advantage of their free time going to Paddy Power, where they put a few bets on some horses. Taryn even won €7 on a horse named Captain Bob in honor of Robert.

At half five, the students made their way back to the bus where they showed Angie and Taryn all of their souvenirs they bought. Amelia and Ben found some great books and splurged on some delicious crepes, Molly bought some gorgeous Celtic jewelry, and Olivia found a nice Trinity sweatshirt. How exciting! Another surprise was when Kate and Scones showed up after having a spa day. Kate, who has had long hair most of her life, decided to chop about ten inches off and donate it to Locks of Love. The students were surprised by her new hairstyle, but loved her new look.

The students returned home in time for a dinner of chicken or fish, broccoli, and potatoes. Dee-lish. After replenishing their systems with some good food, they had a special treat. Angie’s brother, Our Tom, brought down his band for an Irish music sessiun. All the way from Belfast! With Our Tom on the bouzouki, Our Ryan on the banjo, Our Paddy on the uilleann pipes, and Paul on the fiddle, they really treated the kids to some toe tapping tunes. Counselor Casey even had the students dance the Haymaker’s jig while the band played a few numbers. Sheila said she loved the music and really enjoyed dancing.

The rest of the night ended with the students relaxing, catching up on journaling, and catching up on some much needed shut eye.

Next up…, Croker for the Leinster Finals!!!

#ILE15 Adventures

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Gaelic TwisterTin WhistleRebeccaCeltic CardsAnd so begins another day… Today was a class day so compared to the early start yesterday, the kids had a bit of a lie in this morning and had to be at breakfast at 8.30 AM as usual. Today all the stops really were pulled out and in addition to Rice Krispies and Cheerios-there were also homemade Irish scones. We all agreed that although they were nice they weren’t a patch on the scones the kids made in Waterford-even if they did look like mutants.

Literature class was first up and the kids asked Angie to read a story, so they were treated to “The Drunkard,” by Frank O’Connor. Angie explained the concept of the Irish wake-a celebration of life after a person dies, and The Drunkard tells the story of a young boy who goes to a wake with his father. He has a terrible thirst on him and an avid curiosity and decides that the only way to sooth both is to treat himself to his father’s pint of Guinness when his back is turned. We won’t spoil the story, but needless to say it’s hilarious and the kids have been given a copy to take home.

Next up was Miles and Irish American History when the kids did their presentations-including Curt Cobain by Siobhan and Robert did a really compelling presentation about his grandparents and how they met. He is hoping to meet a nice Irish girl when he is here so that in the future his kids have a story to tell too.

Scones did her session on Irish History and taught the kids more Gaelic in preparation for their Gaelic presentations. She even played Gaelic Twister with the group, which was a student favorite. Scones was amazed by Josey and Molly and their flexibility. However, it was Mike who won the gold as the 2015 Gaelic Twister Champion. Ben said they are having great craic doing these.

In Irish Studies, Taryn finished teaching the kids all the great Irish slang-it’s great craic listening to them when they come into the office speaking like Irish kids, so be prepared for when they return home! Taryn also started the game of Irish Jeopardy and the laughs coming out of the room when we passed in the corridor would put a smile on a face like a bucket of potato skins.

After a nutritious and delicious lunch, there was free time for those who had yet more shopping to do and workshops for Tin Whistle, Celtic Card Making and Advanced Irish Dance. Scones couldn’t believe the music abilities from Julia, Laura, and Owen. They could definitely start a sessiun in Galway with their tin whistle brigade. Meanwhile, Casey was blown away by the creativity of the students making some homemade Celtic cards to send back home. Not to ruin the surprise for some, but parents are really in for a treat. The Advanced Irish Dance Workshop also kept Clare B., Molly, and Sheila busy, as they prepared for an original dance to a One Direction song.

Dinner consisted of yet more nutritious and delicious food and then it was dance and drama. On Monday, before we leave for Killarney the kids have to do a drama presentation on one of four Irish characters. They work in groups, which is great for team bonding and having a bit of craic. They have all been working really hard and the ILE Staff can’t wait to see what delights are presented on the night.

PS I Love You was the movie of the evening and Kelton said it was the worst movie he’s ever watched. Angie agrees… However, Clare B. and Molly absolutely loved it to the point that there were snots, tears, and boxes of kleenex used!!!

And so ends another day in Dublin. Bed check was good fun and some of the kids had a lullaby before dropping in to a dead sleep and dreaming dreams of seeing the sights, visiting the Guinness Brewery and of course shopping ’til dropping on the free day in Dublin tomorrow.

With that we bid you goodnight!

#AccordingToAngie

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Giant's CausewayAlly and AllisonCarleyKeltonGiant's OrganJulia and CarleyCarrick-a-rede Rope BridgeCarrick-a-redeJulia and TarynMikeWe had an early start this morning-6:30 AM, but the King’s Hospital Kitchen Staff pulled out all the stops with Cheerio’s, Rice Crispies, and toast for breakfast. We all enjoyed the meal in silence as the students were absolutely exhausted, before hopping on the bus for the long journey to, according to Angie, God’s Country…, the North of Ireland.

First stop when we got over the border was the new Titanic Exhibition in the Belfast docks. This center was only opened three years ago to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the ship’s maiden voyage. The exhibition exceeded all expectations. The highlight of the trip was probably a cool cable car style ride down into a recreation of the construction of the hull of the ship. There were loads more great features inside and fortunately there was plenty of Kleenex on standby for those students who were devastated by the unexpected sad ending. Surprisingly a lot of our students didn’t know that Leonardo di Caprio died.

As Belfast’s finest ambassador Angie Mervyn explained about the Titanic, “She was fine when she left here.” At the end of the tour, the kids had a photo taken outside at the Titanic sign and the craic was great. Some of the kids bought souvenirs and Eddie said the tour was “amazing, cool, wow, and awesome.”

Meanwhile Alice had a disaster with her phone and Angie took her to the Apple store in Belfast to get her iPhone fixed. We ended up ordering another and Alice treated herself to a cool new Ipod Touch so that she could be in touch with home and her brother Patrick, who is currently studying in Galway and will be meeting us on Sunday in Croke Park. Going with Alice was a disaster for Angie, as she ended up spending a fortune on hair products in the shop next to the Apple stire and she is currently having a credit card crisis…

So on to the bus again and as we drove out of Belfast, Angie’s home town, she was kind enough to point out her summer house to us as we travelled north to the Causeway Coast. The bus passed through Bushmills, County Antrim, home of the oldest (Legal.) distillery in the world, but time constraints meant we couldn’t stop to sample the fare. Unfortunately, we had similar time constraints when we passed the Jameson Distillery in Middleton last week. I guess everyone will just have to come back to Ireland in a few years time!

After a delicious and nutritious lunch at the Giant’s Causeway Interpretive Center, the group were ready for what is always one of the highlights of the entire trip-the Giant’s Causeway. All the students (At least those who paid attention to Angie’s story.) knew that the Giant’s Causeway was built by a Scottish Giant called Benandonner so that he could attack the Irish Giant Fionn McCool.

As Angie explained to the kids, there was great rivalry between the two giants, with Fionn McCool knowing that Benandonner had the advantage in terms of height and strength. As Fionn was pottering at his house he heard a very loud BOOM BOOM BOOM, the earth began to shake and waves began to roll and crash against the coast. When he looked towards the Causeway he saw the imposing figure of Benandonner approaching, brandishing a weapon and roaring like there was no tomorrow. Fionn McCool, terrified for the first time in his life, ran into his house shouting for his wife to get the baby blanket and soother ready. A few minutes later there was a loud BANG BANG BANG on the door. Fionn McCool’s wife answered the door and greeted Benandonner with a finger on her lip, telling him, “Shhh or you’ll wake the baby!” Benandonner ran in to the house and peered in to the baby’s cot only to see the biggest baby he had ever set eyes on lying in the crib with a bonnet on and soother in his mouth.
Benandonner said to himself, “Holy sh**, if that’s the size of the baby, what in the hell size is the father?” And with that he ran back to Scotland, tearing up the Causeway as he went. The students were smart enough to discount the childish rumors about the Causeway being made up by hexagonal basalt rocks which were formed when molten lava cooled rapidly towards the end of the last Ice Age.

Everyone had great fun clambering all over the Causeway, the Giant’s Boot, and the Giant’s Organ. Kelton said it was amazing and took a lot of photos. Kelly said she found it so peaceful and beautiful and that it was something really special.

Then it was time to move on to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. This is a tiny little bridge made from rope and planks of wood which were thrown out to a tiny offshore island by salmon fishermen. Now it features in most of the ads and brochures for Tourism Ireland, and with good reason. The ILE group traipsed down to the bridge and Angie, Kelly, and Laura Laura-despite best efforts and good intentions and offers of help from Robert, just couldn’t cross it-height fright is an awful thing!!

We all hopped back on the bus and it was off to Ballycastle, a lovely little seaside town, for dinner. Ballycastle is really nice to visit even when it feels like the middle of winter on a summer’s day, because by this time the rain had started to bucket down!

The kids had dinner in Ballycastle-healthy nutritious food such as pizza, ice cream, and garlic chips! Very Irish altogether…

A long bus ride home beckoned. We were so tired by the time we got home that some of the girls were fast asleep before bed check whilst others dipped their toes in to the disco in Kings Hospital.

And so ended another COOL, WOW, AWESOME day, with the kids going to sleep with good thoughts, yellow auras and the promise of another great day tomorrow as the cock crows at the break of dawn.

A Fun Filled Day!

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Croke ParkJosey and ClareSheilaRiverdanceRiverdanceBobby HodgesAfter an appetizing breakfast of warm croissants, chilled fruit, and a fresh glass of juice, we had our sixth day of classes. In Angie’s Irish Literature, the students learned about Seamus Heaney, the 1945 Nobel Prize winner. She unpacked his background and some of his works, showed photos, and advised them to never try to hide a body in a bog if they end up murdering someone in Ireland.

In Miles’s Irish American History, the students started giving their presentations about an Irish American person who inspires them. Some of the more noteworthy ones were Clare B.’s presentation about a determined Irish dancer, Michael Flatley, and Evan’s brief history lesson on Enoch Johnson, a political boss from New Jersey.

After a short break, the students went on to their Irish Studies class taught by Taryn and a special guest teacher all the way from Waterford, Eddie. They team taught Irish slang to the group. You could only imagine the looks on their faces when they learned that a crisp is a chip, a chip is a french fry, and a fry is an Irish breakfast. Absolutely priceless! Other words that they learned that we all agreed were hilarious included undie grundie, gobsmacked, and minger. It was enlightening for the students, because they’ve heard Angie, Eddie, and Scones use slang that they understood about as well as they might understand Mandarin.

After lunch, we went to Croke Park to take a tour of the grounds. The stadium itself is the third biggest in Europe with enough seating for 82,300 people. More impressively, it is the most used arena in Europe and operates like a well-oiled machine. We were able to catch a glimpse of the 20 miles of tunnels and corridors before we went into locker room #2. Our tour guide, JJ, explained that the locker rooms were 100% identical, but because of superstition and strange traditions, #2 was always preferred to #1. Johanna and Molly knew they’d be cheering for West Meath in the football final on Sunday, because of their devotion to Niall, the boy band sensation from One Direction. We went through a few warm up exercises and balance drills, before heading out into the stadium for a bit of history and loads of photos. JJ gave us a crash course on the history of the venue and explained how significant Croke Park was for Dublin’s history and then ushered us into a museum stocked full of memorabilia from boots to autographed hurleys. We were able to test our skills in an arcade of sorts. In one particular game that tested a player’s ability to jump for a football, Kent leapt into the history books by being one of three people that JJ had ever seen jump to “catch” the highest ball.

The thing that happened next was, for some people, the highlight of their lives. Riverdance was an Irish Life Experience game changer this year. Kelly said seeing Riverdance was amazing, but what was more incredible was seeing it in Dublin, Ireland! Owen said he loved the tap dancers. After the students were blown away by an amazing performance, a handful went around to the back of the Gaiety Theatre and were able to meet a few of dancers. Molly burst into tears with excitement, when she met one of her favorite Irish dancers-Bobby Hodges. There were also selfies taken with Aiden Sexton and Ciera Sexton-both impeccable Irish dancers in Riverdance. What a treat, as the students even got autographs.

The night ended with a quick trip to Gino’s for some gelato before getting back on to the bus to head back to King’s Hospital. The next day was the Antrim Coast Tour that would start at 7 AM, so many students were anxious to get some much needed shut eye for the next day.

Oíche Mhaith! Good Night!

Dublin Days

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Key ChainsKey ChainsT-ShirtsT-ShirtsToday was a regular class day for the students who were grateful to get a little structure back in their day. In Irish class the students got the translation of their names. This year we have a surprising amount of students with Irish names, so there was not a huge difference for most students. Beircheart definitely had the most fun saying his name and was so close (ish!).

The students had Irish History next and studied the plantations in Ireland. This is usually a topic that is skipped in Irish History, but as the students learned this was the foundation for a lot of the modern Irish History and difficult relations with the English. Laura commented that the English weren’t very nice! Definitely a sentiment that was popular back in the 1600’s, but the students were reminded that the Irish and English no longer have such a troublesome relationship.

With Irish American History, the students were focussing on how difficult it was for the first lot of Irish to emigrate to and settle in the US. All in all it was a day where the students learned that the Irish had a pretty tough history. Though they are still pretty, optimistic (Yes that comma is there on purpose.), and cheerful with having such a heavy past.

With it being the student’s first full day, Taryn took them on a tour of the extensive grounds that is King’s Hospital (Our location in Dublin.). There are tennis courts, common rooms, basketball courts, soccer pitches, football pitches, a swimming pool, and a piano-plenty to keep the students occupied during their free time. Definitely no need to be crossing the road to Starbucks, the shopping centre and the WiFi. Convincing Ben and Amelia was pretty tough though, #InternetisLife. Siobhan was another student that couldn’t exist knowing Top Shop was mere steps away. First chance she got, she brought Olivia with her to see if this Top Shop had anything different to the last one!

During free time there were also some workshops that the counselors were running. Counselor Kate started with Irish Key Chains. There were some pretty exceptional ones being produced. Margaret definitely has a talent for it, although we told her not to quit the day job, there may not be much of a profit in producing key chains. She was able to make probably the nicest bracelet Taryn had ever been given by a student with her crazy new skills.

Miles was the next counselor to run a workshop, ILE T-Shirt Tye Dye. Kelly had an extremely creative idea for the class to use a different item of clothing instead of a t-shirt (I’m unable to name it in case the recipient is reading this.). We won’t say they didn’t turn out as expected but we might say that the ILE staff got a giggle out of the end result. Robert’s t-shirt was probably a highlight. It turned out exactly as he wanted it. The only laugh the ILE Staff got here was at Robert’s surprise that he was such a talented tye-dyer! We can’t move on from the tye-dye class without also mentioning Liam’s masterpiece, well-maybe not so much a masterpiece as master-mess, but it’s the intention that counts right?

After dinner it was time for drama and dance. The enthusiasm for drama was a little low. We really don’t think the students understand just how great a prize there is for this! If they did, the competitive streak in Sheila and Josey would definitely be out. We can’t suppress their enthusiasm for dance though. Of course Clare, Molly, and Sheila are in their element, but the students that have never Irish danced before love it just as much. Partially because Aiden’s dance skills are so entertaining to us all. We think his legs have a mind of their own. We will carry out a few experiments to test this theory and keep you up to date.

To cap off the day, Counselor Kate organized an intense game of Kick Ball. Kent and Taryn were team captains and even Casey and Miles joined in the fun. It was a battle back and forth for quite awhile. Owen had some great plays for Taryn’s team and Johanna definitely proved herself to have excellent coordination with a few clutch catches. Eddie and Kelton were newbies to the game, but quickly learned the rules and proved to be dominating forces. It was until Taryn promised her team Crunchies, when they eventually pulled away and won the game by one point. #Bribery. Being more competitive than most of the students, Kent had to stifle his anger with a few calls he thought were unfair by the ref. Nevertheless, the students shook hands, said good game, and had a blast.

Up the Dubs!

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Newtown Kitchen StaffNewtown Boarding SchoolIrish DanceMinute to Win ItMin It to Win ItMin It to Win ItMin It to Win ItToday marked our last day in Waterford as we made the journey onto Dublin. We began our day with our usual class schedule. Miles taught about the great famine that occurred in 19th century Ireland. The students were shocked to learn about the masses of people that perished due to the potato blight and lack of food that was available. Shona had a very entertaining class that started with a popular song, Hold Back the River, by James Bay. She then played the song for the students again, but in Gaelic. Julia said she LOVED the harp at the end of the song. In Irish Studies, Taryn had a presentation on genealogy, which fascinated the students. Johanna said that learning her family’s coat of arms was so cool!

The students were sad to leave their first home in Ireland, but excited to discover a new city. A frequent question among the ILE’ers was, “Is there going to be WiFi at this place?” The staff said their goodbyes and gave gifts to the Waterford Kitchen Staff, John the Caretaker, and Hugh the Manager. One of our favorite adopted Irish boys, Eddie, decided to travel with us to Dublin. The students and staff were so excited to have him join us! We then loaded the bus to begin our voyage onto Ireland’s capital city. Many students caught up on some much needed rest on the two hour trip to the Big Smoke.

As we arrived in Dublin, the students’ eyes lit up as Shona pointed out the sights of Guinness Brewery, Phoenix Park, and Trinity College. The streets of Dublin were bustling with people and the students played a fun game pointing out the American tourists-spot the Yank. Shortly after, we drove down a long, tree-lined driveway to King’s Hospital, our new home for the next week. The girls were thrilled that they only had to share their rooms with one person and even got their own bathroom. Kelly exclaimed, “I’m so happy we get our own bathrooms! Cool, wow, awesome!”

The evening shortly arrived and the students ate dinner at half five and prepared for drama and dance. The students continued to work on their presentations on their Irish figures. It was great to see how much the students are learning and putting that knowledge into a creative presentation. We soon transitioned to dance with Counselor Casey. The students were doing so well with the skips and sevens, that Casey decided to teach them the Haymaker’s Jig. The gymnasium was filled with laughter as the students attempted the new steps. Kent, Miles, and Taryn even participated in the new dance, which led to even more laughter!

We ended the night with Kent’s evening activity-Minute to Win It. The students were split into teams of four. They had to tackle each activity in one minute to earn points for their team. In one activity, the students had to keep three balloons from hitting the ground. Robert was so dedicated to his team, that he dove to keep the balloon from falling. His team erupted with cheers for Robert! Liam was particularly talented at the chop sticks/chapstick challenge where he had to stack three tubes of chapstick using only chopsticks. He completed it in only 20 seconds flat! A new ILE record!

The students were exhausted by the end of the long day. Laura said she couldn’t wait to get into bed! The students were sad to leave their home at Newtown School, but were looking forward to starting their new adventure in Dublin. Onto the second lag of our trip! Up the Dubs!

Terrific Tramore

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

TramoreTramoreTramoreTramoreThe students had the luxury of being allowed to sleep in this morning. Some took the advantage of having the morning off and with it being our first Sunday they went to Mass with Angie. Cate and Johanna were looking amazing dressed up in their Sunday best.

When everybody was getting dressed and ready for Tramore Beach the rain poured. And poured. And poured. So we weren’t quite optimistic about the day as you can imagine. As soon as we arrived to Tramore, things had drastically picked up-the sun was shining and the students were grateful they had brought their swimsuits.

There was a festival on in Tramore, so there was definitely no shortage of things to do and see. There was a dog show across from the promenade that Laura was enthralled by. She said she’d never seen such cute puppies and such a range. There was a jumpercize class going on outside on the prom. Josie said it made her feel bad for the lack of exercise she had been doing in Ireland so far, so she decided she must join Clare M. for her morning runs from now on. There was a karate class also taking place on the prom. We had to take Kelton away-he was dangerous enough without actually being taught moves like that.

The highlight was definitely the air show that took place though. There were three different pilots that had quite exquisite skills and precision. Liam ducked once or twice though just in case the pilot’s didn’t spot his pretty face! I say this was the highlight, but it may not have been for everybody though. There were rumors that a certain Massachusetts girl and an Idaho boy might have taken advantage of the romantic beach setting!

Aiden, Kelton, Mary, Olivia and Siobhan went straight to the carnival though. The bumper cars were apparently much more impressive than those back in the states. The lack of health and safety requirements in Ireland may have been a contributing factor here, but that didn’t bother our students too much in the moment.

There was also a human sized hamster ball on water available. Amelia and Ben decided to try this out and spent more time laughing-flailing and falling than actually running around the ball. The show they put on for everybody else was brilliant though. Margaret got the chance to really show off some of her gymnastic skills with the bungee string trampolines. The back flips and twists she was doing were impeccable.

Despite the sun coming out, the sea breeze was still quite strong. All of the ILE staff were huddled together on the beach wearing as many items of clothing as they could get their hands on. This brisk breeze didn’t impact Clare M., Josey, Liam, Margaret, Mike, or Molly though. They all managed to strip off and make it into the water. Mike did an impressive run and dunk to avoid spending ten minutes hovering with his toes in the cold water. Liam and Molly had the same plan, but the thought alone of the cold water was enough to impact their speed and it took them a little longer than Mike to get in completely. Out of everyone though it must be said that Josey enjoyed this the most. Being from Montana,sShe mentioned it was her first time ever seeing the ocean and she just loved everything about it. The strength of the salt in the water was something she definitely wasn’t expecting, but by the time we make it to Inch Beach she will be well used to it all.

Everybody made it back to Waterford just in time for dinner. After dinner there was a great surprise treat though as James, our adopted Irish boy, brought along his bagpipes to put on a show for our students who were all mesmerized at his talent. The talent did extend to our group though as James allowed Kelton to perform and proved that Irish music can be played just as well by any nationality.

There was just enough time to put on another movie before bed, The Wind that Shakes the Barley. This film focuses on the Irish War of Independence but shows how families were torn apart after the treaty was signed and the civil war began. There were a few students, not naming any names Amelia and Laura, who were crying as much as the staff at the end! It was great to see Josey the next day in class and know that our students were really learning from these movies as well. She was able to explain to some of the other students exactly what happened and why the families were split once the civil war began.

We are having a brilliant time with our #ILE15 students!

Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

One DirectionCharles FortCharles FortKelly GreeneClare and JoseyMary and OliviaLiam4th of July PartyThere was an early start to the day as we had to travel all the way to Kinsale, County Cork. Charles Fort was the first stop. Charles Fort is a star shaped fort located right on the coast across the bay from James Fort. Throughout the years, Charles Fort was used by different armies in different battles. It is famously known for having a 100% defeat record. It was only ever attacked once and it was from the land side. The occupants of Charles Fort at the time surrendered and marched out of the fort honorably.

It was one of the few years at Charles Fort that we actually had some sun…, at last! The tour guide may have been a little shocked that it was the ILE Staff interrupting her tour to have a photo shoot with One Direction (Or their cardboard counterparts, which is as close as any of us will get.), but the students were well used to it at this stage! Kelly Greene wore a lovely scarf-an American flag which turned out to be the perfect accessory for all of those Instagram pictures that needed to be taken, #FourthofJuly. The tour guide was quite impressive and provided an entertaining hour of detailed history of the fort.

Afterwards, the students were given an hour to explore the town of Kinsale. Kinsale is an extremely picturesque small town on the south coast of Cork. It is well known for its golf course but even more so for its seafood. Since the students had been given a packed lunch, they decided to spend their time exploring. Liam got a patriotic American flag painted on his face by Mary. Mike followed his lead and got a red white and blue star on his cheek.

We were lucky enough to be serenaded by a few students on the bus from Kinsale to Cork. It was not a long journey, but with some of the voices we had to listen to it definitely seemed it! There were some Whitney Houston impressions (Clare B.) that made up for some of the others though. It was the first time the students got the treat of seeing Angie dance to her FAVORITE band, One Direction. I think it was all a little too much for John though, as he took a nap in the hopes that Angie wouldn’t call on him next to dance for everybody.

Cork, being Ireland’s real capital, was a real treat for the students. It is Ireland’s largest county, best city, has the most welcoming and beautiful people and unfortunately casts the rest of the country in its shadow (Ahem…, Scones. Can you tell where she is from?). The students took very different approaches to exploring the city. Clare B, Johanna, and Molly got the chance to join some musicians for an impromptu dance session entertaining crowds out for dinner. Everybody was extremely impressed at the talent and the confidence the girls demonstrated.

Aiden took no time to discover Topman and brought a few unsuspecting students in and ruined American shopping for them in the future. They put their well-earned dollar bills to good use. There’s no doubt the fashion shows we’ll have for the duration of ILE would be fit for Milan. Let’s just hope there’s no issue with fitting Milan in a suitcase at the end of July.

The disappointment of leaving Cork was a little bit too much for some students who didn’t feel too well on the bus journey back to Waterford. The only thing we could use to bribe them back on to the bus was the promise of some celebratory pizza and candy for the 4th of July. Once the theatre was decorated in some appropriate blue, white, and red stars Evan wasted no time in rushing down to be the first to grab some pizza. It took a few staff members to convince him that other students needed to get a slice as well, but eventually the candy was enough of a temptation to pull him away from the pizza line. After giving all of the students a lovely sugar rush with chocolate, Coke, Fanta, and popcorn-they all settled in with their pajamas on and their duvets in hand to watch The Breakfast Club. …A real American classic for the day that was in it.

A Day in the Life of an #ILE15 Student

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

DSC01057DSC01097DSC01150DSC01201Today started off like most days with breakfast at half eight and class at nine. Professor Miles talked today about Irish influence in America and how that has affected the American presidency. Did you know that half of US presidents have ancestors from the Emerald Isle? Kennedy, Reagan, and even our current president, Obama, all claim Irish roots. There was even on American born Irish president, Eamon de Valera who was born in Manhattan, NY and came to be the 3rd president of Ireland in 1921.

The students had their first Irish History and Gaelic classes today with Shona, who is an Irish native from County Cork. Ali, Clare, Ali, Kate, Kelly, and Molly shared the Irish words and phrases they learned, such as Hello: “Dia Duit” (GEE-ah Gwitch) literally meaning “God be with you” and the response to that, “Dias Muiras Duit” (GEE-as Mwear-ah Gwitch) meaning “God and Mary be with you.”

Not only does Shona teach these classes, but she is also the best scone make ever! The other staff even call her Scones instead of Shona. Almost all of the students signed up for Scones’ scones workshop. No flour fight this year though! Weird. Must have been because Counsellor Casey was on office duty and not there to plant the idea.

The scones turned out fabulously and were served with dinner. They were delicious with a little Irish butter. Earlier in the day most of the students opted out of the cafeteria lunch and were permitted to go into town for lunch. The lunch ladies were a bit baffled by their absence. The weather was glorious today for walking about town and for a few sports. There is a large green field in front of the Newtown School campus that we used for the Irish Sports Workshop, in which all students were required to participate.

Waterford local and GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Coach, Mark, came for a visit to teach the students about hurling and Gaelic football. They were able to test their hand at working the hurly stick and ball with relay drills. At one point they held a Puc Fada competition, to see who could hit the ball the furthest. Ireland has this contest once a year and the winner receives €5,000. Each student was allowed three attempts. The furthest ball for the ladies was hit by Clare M. The furthest lad to hit the ball was Kelton.

The Irish teams (Comparable to our NFL for example.) are not paid. They play because they love it and have extreme pride for their county. Mark was explaining how each neighborhood would have their own pitch to play and practice on-all starting at very young ages, and would compete against the other neighborhoods in their county-making their way up to the final that would permit them to represent their county in matches against other counties. The roots in the team are strong and the pride extreme!

After dinner we had Drama and Dance. In Drama each team was asked to create a limerick about their historical figure, the winning team included Aiden, Ali, Carly, Clare M., Evan, Kelton, and Molly who wrote a witty limerick about WB Yeats-they won an Irish literature book.

After Drama was Irish Dance class. The students are continuing to master the skips and sevens, which are the basic first movements a dancer learns. We took turns two at a time dancing our skips down the room. The students are working on a large group dance, choreographed by Counsellor Casey, which is arranged first in a circle and eventually ends in one long line for a grand finale jig step at the end. Some of the students are quite good! Others admit their lack of grace, but are still happy to learn what they can. Before class ended Clare B, Molly, Sheila, and Counsellor Casey demonstrated their hard shoe steps. Each danced one step of the treble jig. Some of the girls were saying how this dance class is only making them more excited about seeing Riverdance when we’re in Dublin. We hope to master our group dance and record it so you guys can see what we’ve learned!

This evening the students were given a choice between having free time on campus or watching a movie in the lecture hall, “The Commitments.” Most chose the movie and some even went to bed before it was over. We have a lot of fun on ILE, it’s important to get sleep while you have the chance!