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Newtown Boarding School

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Counselor Tyler has been having quite a lot of fun getting aerial views of some beautiful areas in Ireland. We wanted to share with everyone how truly beautiful the campus of Newtown Boarding School is in Waterford. What a deadly shot!

Up the Deise!

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

The wheels of the airplane came to a screeching halt and before the #ILE17 Group knew it, they were in Ireland on the morning of June 30th. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, they meandered through the halls of Dublin Airport until they came to Customs. After a few important questions, most of them received their first official stamp in their passports. The first of many-hopefully.

After the students had collected all of their bags, we exited out of Security and were greeted by Angie (Who is the Coordinator on the Irish side-teaches Irish literature, loves singing lullabies, and giving the students loads of sweets.) and Michael (Who teaches Irish and Irish American history.). Introductions were made and hugs were exchanged. Angie led the group outside to their chariot-a luxury Barton’s Coach-that would bring them to Newtown Boarding School.

Waterford is about a 3 1/2 journey from Dublin, so the ILE headed to the first tour of the trip. Some couldn’t wait to get some fresh air and stretch their legs after flying all night. Many were forcing themselves not to fall asleep, so a few started counting the sheep dotting the green rolling hillsides to distract themselves.

The first stop was Glendalough, in County Wicklow and in the thick of the Wicklow Mountains-one of Ireland’s most beautiful destinations-according to many ILE alumni.

For thousands of years people have been drawn to “the valley of the two lakes” for its spectacular scenery, rich history, archaeology and abundant wildlife. Many say that Glendalough is a remarkable place that will still your mind, inspire your heart, and fill your soul.

Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th Century and from this developed a Monastic City.

The Monastic City consists of a number of remains and the most impressive being the Round Tower which stands almost 100 feet high. The grounds are entered through the Gateway, which has two round headed granite arches and then the main group of monastic buildings lies downstream near the Round Tower.

Beyond St. Mary’s Church is the Priest’s House, a 12th Century building in Romanesque style, with an interesting carving of a much earlier date on the lintel of the doorway.

Just beyond the Priest’s House is a large granite Celtic cross and the Cathedral, the largest church on the site, with a nave, chancel and sacristy, and St. Kevin’s Church.

St. Kevin’s Church is commonly known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen. This is a barrel-vaulted oratory of hard mica schist with a steeply pitched roof and a round tower belfry.

Michael did a great job pointing all of these points of interest out to the students and the most popular subject for pictures were the gorgeous Celtic crosses.

The group took a stroll to the Upper Lake and many were in shock when they saw whitecaps on the water and felt a chill in their bones with the frigid wind and typical Irish mist. They took a quick picture along the shores and then made the trek back to the Visitor Center. “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore,” Abby said. What an appropriate quote for the day!

Rose from New York looked a little concerned and asked if Ireland is always this cold. The ILE Staff assured her that she would definitely see at least a day or two (Maybe more.) of sunshine over the next few weeks. Fingers crossed;).

Once back at the Visitor Center, the group were treated to their first packed lunch of the program-complete with a piece of fruit, Taytos, a sandwich, and a Kit Kat. Yumzers! They then boarded the bus and headed south again straight to Waterford.

Once in Waterford (Up the Deise!), the group received a warm welcome to Newtown Boarding School from Scones, the Gaelic and Irish studies teacher. They were given a tour of campus and then got settled into their rooms and had the chance to freshen up with some not-so-warm showers. They were also given the opportunity to deposit money and passports into the Irish Life Experience Bank and then it was time for tea. Tea included a well balanced meal of pork, stuffing, and vegetables.

After letting their food digest, it was time for a few ice-breakers. The first ice-breaker consisted of students gathering in a circle and either left or right patting their shoulder in the direction the “pat” was directed in. If a student put one hand on top of the other, it would switch direction to the hand that was on the bottom. It was a game that required a lot of focus, so it was comical to see the students concentrating after their jet lag was setting in. It came down to Lauren from California and Counselor Casey, with Casey winning with a rock, paper, scissors shoot out.

The group was then split up into pairs and given a minute each to interview one another. After 2 minutes, everyone introduced their partner to the group. We learned some great facts about everyone… We found out that Bridget and Rose have the same birthday…, maybe because they are twins;). We also discovered that Brigid from Indiana is an Irish dancer, Scones tells only true stories, and Peirce loves theatre performance.

The final activity of the day was arranging the students into two circles and joining hands across from one another-to create essentially a human knot. They then raced around the clock to see if they could unravel themselves from the knotted mess without letting go of their grasps. Each team ended up having a win, so we called it a tie.

By the time 8:00 PM rolled around, the students were ready to hit the hay and crash for a much needed night of sleep! Their first day in Ireland had sadly come to an end.

Next Stop…, Ireland.

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

“Your feet will bring you where your heart is…” -Irish Proverb.

Thursday, June 29th, marked the exciting and long awaited #ILE17 departure day. Bags were packed, countdowns dwindled to “0,” and nerves and anticipation were in the air. Students were looking forward and eager to embrace the special four week adventure that they were about to experience on the ol’ sod.

The US #ILE17 Team of Taryn, Casey, Miles, and Tyler had meetings in the morning to get prepared for the journey. They headed to Boston Logan International Airport and met Hannah from Illinois. She was the first to arrive at 10:45 AM, followed by Peirce from Pennsylvania at 1:00 PM.

The group set up camp across from the Aer Lingus Ticket Counter and hunkered down for the long day. The ILE Staff would check in students as they came and give out the new #ILE17 t-shirts, colored in a nice maroon hue (Perfect Galway representation mind you.). Anna T. from Ohio was the next to arrive at the airport and then Abigail from Michigan. Students continued to trickle in for the next few hours with their families, while continually sharing “getting-to-know-you questions” with each other. They even filled their stomachs with some Chinese and Mexican food, Burger King, and caffeine from Dunkin’ Donuts.

John Paul from Connecticut was the last student to arrive with his family and then the #ILE17 Group was complete with the American contingency. Taryn gathered the group and they decided to take a few traditional pictures-commemorating the momentous occasion of our exciting departure day. Then it was straight through to Security. Getting through TSA proved to be a little difficult when a few jars of American peanut butter were confiscated. Not naming any names… (Cough cough, Abigail and Lauren).

Once past Security, the group was able to spot our Aer Lingus 747 with the iconic three leaf clover on the tail-headed straight over the pond to the Emerald Isle. They made their way to Gate C21 and dialed a few last minute phone calls to friends and family, before filling their tummies with even more delicious American grub. Potbelly seemed to be a popular stop for some hot sandwiches with quite a few of students and staff.

The group boarded the plane, buckled their seat belts, and got settled in their seats for the evening. They turned on their in-flight entertainment and nestled in for the five and a half hour flight. Favorite movies for the voyage were Beauty and the Beast, Collateral Beauty, Hidden Figures, and Moana.

A meal was also served enroute and Garret said his pasta was scalding hot that he almost let out a piercing scream. He stifled it in, as he didn’t want to wake up his fellow passengers in slumber, but said he definitely burnt his taste buds. He doesn’t think he will be trying the airplane food on the return flight. Many of the students also caught up on some much needed shut eye, as they knew that it would help them with their jet lag the next day. About an hour before we landed, a glass of orange juice and a blueberry muffin were served for breakfast. All in all, it was a great start to the day and the flight was very smooth with friendly skies. Only a little turbulence at the end, which made Taryn happy, as she doesn’t like to fly when it’s bumpy.

About 8:15 AM Irish time, students were able to catch their first glimpses of the green patchwork quilt of fields on the island of Ireland. They were so thrilled to have done some epic time traveling and couldn’t wait to see what the next day had in store for them.

Introducing Michael Meaney-Your 2016 Gaelic and Irish History Teacher

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Michael MeaneyHello All,

My name is Michael Meaney and I’m from Carlow, a small County in the south-east region of Ireland. I am a Post Primary (High School) teacher working in Dublin. My main subjects are Irish and European History, Geography, and P.E. I worked as an Archaeologist before I qualified in teaching, so I have a good “hands on” knowledge of Irish History after spending time digging up the past!

I have a huge interest in Sport and I play Gaelic Football for my hometown team in Carlow. I also played Gaelic Football for my County team. This was a huge honor and a brilliant experience.

One of my best travel experiences was a few years back when I spent the summer playing Gaelic Football in Boston. This will be my first time working with the Irish Life Experience and I can honestly say it sounds like one of the coolest trips imaginable. I can’t wait to give students a greater appreciation of Ireland and Irish people, while also showing off what this beautiful Isle and everything it has to offer.

In my time off I like to travel, socialize with family and friends, and watch Gaelic Football and Hurling games, as well as coaching and helping out with my local sports teams. I’m a huge music fan, anything from ‘50’s’ to Mozart!

Looking forward to the summer already,

See you soon!

#ILE15 Draw to a Close

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Gort na CoiribeILE BanquetILE StaffIt is our last full day in Ireland! We cannot believe how quickly this trip has gone by. Johanna and Molly said that they were going to cry all day because they were so sad that our trip was almost over. The students had a free day. Many of the ILE’ers went exploring the shopping center of Galway and picked up last minute gifts. Carley and Owen were so happy that they finally got to sleep in!
The final banquet was scheduled for eight o’clock at the quaint, Irish pub, Monroe’s, in the heart of Galway.

Once at Monroe’s in our private room, the students dined, chatted, and laughed with one another. The students ordered from the menu and many of them had ordered Apple Pie and Bailey’s Cheesecake for dessert. After dinner, some students went into the pub (With an accompanied adult, of course!) to watch the traditional Irish step dancing. Aiden said that he wished he knew how to step dance so he could join in!

We soon made our way back to our home at Gort na Coiribe. The students had an hour to pack before going to the ILE Staff apartment for a little presentation. Kelton said he didn’t need anytime to pack because he had already been packed for two days! All 30 students piled into the small apartment to watch the ILE Uptown Funk video that had each student dancing at the various places we had traveled to in Ireland. We have such an amazing group of talented dancers! Next, Taryn played a slide show full of pictures from the trip, accompanied with every song that can make you cry. The music must have worked because the room was filled with misty eyes. The students reminisced about their days together on this amazing journey. Next was the Paper Plate Awards. These awards are created by the ILE Staff and given to each student. Sheila was elated to win the Minnie Mouse Award and couldn’t wait to change into her Minnie Mouse onesie! Taryn gave all of the students a USB drive, Certificate of Completion of the ILE, and an Irish flag. Evan was so excited that he now had all of his favorite songs! Laura said that she was going to listen to them on her way back home to help her remember her amazing trip.
We had a very special surprise from our favorite ILE writer, Evan! Evan read us a poem that described his experience on the ILE. His poem was absolutely brilliant. It made us laugh and brought all of us to tears. It is amazing how 30 strangers can become such amazing friends in just a month’s time. Tears were running at the end of the presentation.

After a long evening, the students went back to their apartments to finish packing and hang out with one another. Cate, Clare, Johanna, Liam, Mike, and Molly bought energy drinks and vowed to stay awake all night long. We’ll see if they’re actually successful!

The ILE Staff feels so grateful to have had such an amazing group of students to spend their summer with. Tomorrow will be filled with tears, but tonight, we’ll just enjoy each other’s company.

Cows with Guns

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Aran IslandsCasey, Miles, and TarynBike HireFerryWe woke up to lashing rain this morning and as we looked out the window we thought, “Oh No!” It was bucketing down and today was our day to go to Inish Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands. We put the Child of Prague in the garden-the story goes that when you do this the rain clears up-and lo and behold by the time we got half way to the ferry, the sun had started to pop through and things were looking up.

We had an early start to get to Rossaveal for the 10.30 AM ferry and as we sailed across there were a few brave souls that ventured outside to stand on the deck and watch Galway fade into the distance. The boat was packed with tourists heading over for the day and our kids had to run to get in front of the German tourists before they took up all the seats! When we got off the ferry, we rented our bikes as they are by far the best way to see the island. When the kids had listened to the safety talk-cycle on the left, use the left hand brake and don’t go too fast-they were free to explore the island and off they went.

The ILE Staff were slow-we are all a lot more unfit than what we thought with the exception of Kent and Miles-and by the time we reached the beach some of the kids were playing Frisbee and getting ready to swim. Angie dipped her toe in the water and immediately thought it was way too cold and retreated to the safety of the beach. Clare M. and Siobhan managed to brave the cold waters and there were a few girls who collected stones with holes in them. Perfect for making unique necklaces.

Some of kids cycled further to Dun Aengus, three spectacular forts which stand guard over Inish Mor at a height of 200 feet and which date back over 2000 years. Clare B. said it was really fun to look over the edge (Watched by guards.) and thought it was even better than the Cliffs of Moher.

Casey, Miles, and Taryn decided to venture off and find the Puffing Hole on Inishmore. They took their bikes on some off road terrain and proceeded to climb down some pretty treacherous cliffs. Taryn was a little apprehensive at first, as she didn’t know how she would maneuver her body back over some of these ledges. Miles guaranteed he would help her. They eventually found the impressive site, took some slow-mo/hyper lapse videos, selfies, and jumping pictures.

Everyone met back at the ferry at 4:30 PM with some Aran sweater purchases and many stories of their wonderful day to tell. The bus journey home was pretty quiet as some of the kids drifted off into dreamland, only to be woken up to the sound of our favorite ILE song blasting compliments of Brian Farrell. As the kids belted out the chorus of Cows With Guns, we turned on to campus to people staring at the sight of a bus load of kids and adults singing about cows with their arms raised in the air-it must’ve have seemed very bizarre for any on lookers although they were treated to a vision.

So as our day draws to a close our ILE group of 2015 will be going home with sun tans after a wonderful day, hot weather, and a bucket load of craic.

One more day. Ahhh!

Conne-mar-velous!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

LauraEvanAlly and ClareDan O'Hara'sJimmy JesusKylemore AbbeyConnemaraILE StaffOur second day in Galway started a little bit earlier than most of our mornings on holiday. The first bus trip of our relatively laid back day led us to Dan O’Hara’s Cottage. Our guide, Martin, led us up the Connemara countryside to a turf bog. He explained the process and reasoning behind using the 3,000 year old, oxygen deprived plant matter as an energy source. Martin demonstrated how the peat would be cut into log-like pieces that weighed about 12 lbs. After a little more than a week, the pieces of turf would weigh less than 3 lbs and would shrink in size because the water would have evaporated. Martin also showed us bits and pieces of a black oak tree that would’ve been alive thousands of years ago. Because there is no oxygen in the bogs, the wood was remarkably preserved, and it had hardened considerably because of the pressure throughout the years.

From the bog we squeezed our group of 36 full sized humans into a house that wasn’t much bigger than Harry Potter’s bedroom. We were all surprised to learn that Dan O’Hara lived here during the Famine with his wife and their seven children. We got a quick history of the cottage and the eight acres that the O’Hara family would’ve farmed while they were living on the self-sufficient farm. He pointed out notable geographical features of the land, a few towns, and even the Statue of Liberty somewhere way off to the west. Martin sang a few songs and told us Dan O’Hara’s story of suffering, loss, adventure, and hope. He then moved a wooden board that revealed a hole in the ceiling and grabbed a nearly full bottle of unidentifiable contraband. He told us that it was poitín and explained that the Irish moonshine was still both illegal and regularly produced. A few of the ILE Staff tried to stomach a sip of it while the students took hilarious photos of cringing faces and lots of coughing. Did I mention that it’s 70% alcohol? Right, that’s a game changer. Needless to say, we kept your beloved students away from the poison for our safety and for theirs.

The next leg of our day involved a few bus singalongs and a trip to Kylemore Abbey. The clouds were finally starting to burn off and the sun began to show its face. We split into two groups. One group had time to go into the Abbey, take pictures, or hang out at the café while the other group was hiking up to a statue of Jesus overlooking the Abbey and Connemara National Park. Our guide told us that the Abbey had originally been a castle, then an Abbey, and was even converted into one of the best boarding schools in Europe by Benedictine Nuns. Rumor has it that Madonna’s daughter was thinking about going to school here! There are still a handful of Nuns about the place, and one of them even has a few cows! We stopped at the statue which was about halfway up the mountain to take pictures and to soak in the views of the park. Although our guide doubted some of our shoe choices (Cough Cough, Miles!), most of us made it up and down the soggy mountain and slippery rocks with no problem at all. Most of us. There were a few soaked shoes and a couple of wet behinds, but all in all it was a great trip. Poor Rebecca and her Converse. RIP.

After we got back to Gort Na Coiribe, Casey and Miles went to have tea with some of the students. Amelia quietly wrote in her diary chiming in every now and then with a few witty words, while Evan searched for poetic inspiration amongst the candles and kitchen table banter. The “God Squad” wrote the most touching note to the ILE Staff and made personalized paper boats filled with candy as gifts. They they bombarded into the ILE Staff Apartment with balloons and danced around for quite a surprise. It was a special moment that ended with a selfie that was better than Ellen’s.

When students signed in at 10 PM, they had to say goodbye to Scones. It was her last night with the ILE. The students wrote sweet love notes for her in a card. She gave everybody hugs, cleaned out her closet full of lies about being a River Dancer, and to say soft farewells to the students who have grown to love her over the past few weeks. Some students made plans to wake up to see her off at 7 AM. Just like that the sun set on another long and exhausting day of vacation on the little teddy bear shaped island with which our 2015 ILE’ers have fallen in love.

Periwinkle Anyone?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Hiking in the BurrenBurren HikeBurrenSnailsCliffs of MoherCliffs of MoherWe have officially been in Ireland for 20 days! Alice and Ally can’t believe how quickly the days are flying by. Our first morning in Galway started with the arrival of our good friend and bus driver, Brian, from Burren Coaches. As we loaded onto the bus, Brian greeted us by playing the #ILE15 theme song, “Uptown Funk.” The dance party didn’t end there; Taryn plugged in her iPod to present the #ILE15 playlist to the students! The staff and students danced and sang along to “Galway Girl,” “Wagon Wheel”, “Wannabe,” and Johanna and Molly personal favorite, “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful.”

Today the weather was not in our favor. However, that didn’t stop our spirts. Our first stop of the day was in the Burren, located in County Clare. The students oohed and aahed at the rocky countryside. Taryn made sure to tell the students not to take the limestone scenery for granite. The students dressed in some rain gear provided by Burren Hikes to help out with the torrential down pour. Then our burley tour guide, John, brought us on a lovely hike through the mountains that are owned by his family. The baltic weather with lashing rain (#AccordingtoAngie) didn’t damper the students’ sense of humor. During the hike, John showed the group the wild Juniper, hazelnuts, and thyme that grow on the mountainside. Laura curiously asked, “Do you ever run out of thyme?” Her pun was especially appreciated by Taryn, the Pun Queen herself!

After the hike, the students sat happily in the nearby café drinking hot chocolate and eating delicious homemade desserts. Aiden said that the pie he ate was the best he ever had! Before we left the Burren, Brian’s four lovely children, Shona, Mia, Eoghan, and Noah joined us for the rest of the day’s journey.

The next stop was the Poulnabrone Dolmen, an ancient burial chamber in County Clare. This ancient tomb was constructed during the Neolithic era. During the excavation of the Dolmen, 22 bodies were found at the burial site. Angie educated the students on the history and the magical fertility powers that the Poulnabrone Dolmen also possess. Cate, Clare B., Clare M., Johanna, Josey, Molly, and Siobhan were eager to increase their fertility and ran around the Dolmen ten times clockwise. Robert made it around three times, which may result in a goldfish instead of a child (#AccordingtoAngie). Amelia and Scones ran the opposite direction, hoping that they would become less fertile.

We then headed onto Kilfenora for a quick bite to eat, and to Lahinch Beach, the surfing capital of Ireland. Luckily, there were a couple of young, strapping lads who were selling periwinkles on the shore. Periwinkles are delicious, fresh snails from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Ben, Cate, Evan, Johanna, Josey, and Molly eagerly ate the periwinkles. Ben said, “Wow, it tastes like a snail!” Many of the students explored the beach and got ice cream before the short drive to the Cliffs of Moher. Rebecca said she enjoyed drinking her delicious Oreo Milkshake and strolling along the beach shore.

The rain started up again when we arrived at the Cliffs. Carley, Julia, and Sheila thought the Cliffs of Moher were absolutely breathtaking. Owen was a bit upset that he didn’t get to see his favorite animal, the Puffin, which often frequents the area. But, he was able to enjoy the Puffin photos at the visitors’ center.

After a long, rainy day, the students were excited to sit on the warm bus and go back to their apartments. The students ended their day by cooking meals and enjoying each other’s company. We’re excited to see what adventures lie ahead tomorrow!

Galway Bound

Monday, August 17th, 2015

BunrattyKing BenClare M.We’re onto our last lag of our trip: Galway! The students were very busy this morning packing up their things and cleaning their apartments in Killarney. At half nine, all the students were on the bus, ready for yet another adventure. Many of the students were up late the night before doing dishes and having late night chats, so the bus ride consisted mostly of rest.

Our first stop of the day was in the lovely town of Adare. This tiny town has small Irish cottages with thatch rooftops scattered around the perimeter. The town is also well known for its brilliant heritage center. They students were elated to discover their Coat of Arms and the meanings behind their surnames. Clare M. and Robert said that it was so interesting to find more about their surnames and their Irish heritage. The students spent an hour snapping photos of the quaint cottages and exploring the heritage center.

The student boarded the bus yet again and started onto Bunratty Castle in County Clare (The namesake of Clare B. and Clare M.). This Medieval castle is one of the most authentic and complete castles in Ireland. Built in 1425, the castle has furniture and tapestries that make it truly come to life. The giant tortois shells in the castle kitchen reminded Laura of the Ninja Turtles. Liam and Mike climbed all the way to the roof of the castle and shouted, “I’m King of the world!” Rebecca described Bunratty Castle as “very cool.”

After the castle tour, the students were allowed to explore the small folk village that surrounds the castle. Decorated with small period houses and vintage shops, the students had more than enough to keep them intrigued. Johanna particularly enjoyed seeing real live chickens walking around the village.

After a few hours at Bunratty, the students departed to the last city on our trip. Drum roll please…, Galway! The students were ecstatic with the student housing accommodations at Gort na Coiribe. John was especially pumped to have his own room! The students went to the Dunnes Grocery Store across the street and bought groceries for their apartments. Mary Elizabeth said, “This trip has really helped me learn how to manage money. This will make college a lot easier!”

The students nestled into their homes for the week and cooked their dinners. Pizza, chicken nuggets, and pancakes seem to be favorites among the group. A few students opted to walk into town for a nice dinner out. It was another beautiful day in Ireland!

#ILE15 Spirit Names

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Ross CastleClare, Josey, and KellySpirit NamesMary ElizabethLadies ViewKeltonGroup at Ladies ViewOliviaLauraToday we were all at the bus at half nine for our Mini Ring of Kerry Tour. Our informative bus driver, Tom, took us first to Ross Castle, where students were allowed to explore the castle grounds which rested upon the edge of one of Killarney’s lakes. The weather today was a bit grim, but made for interesting light for our photographs.

Molly and Owen scaled part of the castle wall for a photo. Kelly had made her way to the upper level and was waving like a queen. Many selfies were taken in front of the spectacular view, which included the lake, distant mountains, and even a few swans.

Clare B. was determined to touch a duck. Unfortunately, they were just too quick! Kelton made his way around the front of the castle in attempt to get some artsy photos (Which he’ll hopefully share with us soon!).

From here, we left for Kenmare to visit the ancient stone circle they have there. It is said that they used to make sacrifices on the center stone to please the gods and spirits. As a group we held a sort of ILE ritual ourselves. Forming a circle, everyone took hands. The ILE Staff took turns giving each student Spirit Names, “From now on Mike, you shall be known as…, Sperm Whale!” Molly now goes by Kinkajou, Clare M. goes by Thunder Cloud, and so on. Ben, Laura, and Owen were all in stitches after hearing some of the names given!

From here, students were left to buy lunches in town or eat packed lunches they had made themselves. It was a bit cold and rainy today-jackets and fleeces were definitely needed. Some students filled up with warm scones and hot chocolate or lattes, others went for soup of the day or toasties. And of course, there is always room for ice cream!

After an hour of free time in Kenmare, the ILE went back on the bus with their driver, Tom. Tom is from Ireland, so hearing his musical accent while driving through the Irish countryside just added to the ambience of the rolling green hills, fog, and mist.

For a short while we played some music on the radio and the students couldn’t help but sing along-a very musical bunch we have!

As we drove, Tom explained how we were passing through Moll’s Gap. There are only two breaks, or gaps, in the mountains and that was one of them. The two halves of the mountain swept down, naturally, to the road below as we passed through, leading us on to the Ladies View, and what a view! I can’t imagine any photo taken here will ever give the sight justice!

Students took less selfies here and more photos with each other. Something about this place had to be remembered with friends.

As Clare M. was being photographed with friends she commented, “maybe I’ll make the blog today.” -here ya go Clare!

Ladies View-#AccordingToMiles-men would leave the ladies just sitting there with the view while they sat in the cafe or were off hunting. #BallAndChain. #SeeYa.

Another scenic route took us home again, back to our apartments where students had free time to cook dinner, nap, watch TV, or go into town.

The Michael Collins group, which included Amelia, Johanna, Josey, Kelly, Mike, Owen, and Rebecca were off to their prize night out: The Ghost Tour of Killarney. Correctly assuming that the tour would be scary, Kelly happily gave her spot to Molly.

Poor, unfortunate, Molly sat in, what she believed to be, the safest seat on the bus. (Now, let’s talk about this bus-dark, full of fog, sculls, seats missing to make room for more scary things! Windows covered. Dark.) She was nestled in the way back-out of the aisle with Josey next to her. Little did she know that upon reaching our first destination that the side of the bus in that very spot would break away with a loud, “Aaaaahhhhhrrrrr!” And a man reaching for her!

It was unexpected for all of us! We hear a scream and turn back to see that Molly had jumped straight into Josey’s seat, leaving Josey on the floor! Everyone burst out laughing with excitement, and a little nervousness wondering what could possibly happen next.

Though the ride was a bit scary, the stories told here were fascinating. Did you know that Halloween derives from an old Pagan festival? They believed that spirits of loved ones were always around, but during this time the vail that separated them dissipated. They would have bone fires (Origin of our “bon” fire.) burning bones of animals as an offering to the spirits, in hopes that they would feel included and happy. For if they weren’t happy, they may play tricks on you.

We arrived at an abbey, dating back to the 1400’s. Story goes that this abbey was one’s first class ticket to Heaven if buried there, but at one point there was no room left. So people would dig up graves, toss the original bodies into or around the abbey itself, and bury their loved ones in their place-leaving the building full of decay.

Of course it’s cleaned up now, and the grounds are still used as a working cemetery today. So with respect, we continued on deeper into the church. In the center of the courtyard was a 600 year old tree-quite beautiful.

As the tales continued Amelia and Counselor Casey linked arms and kept an eye out in all directions. Molly and the girls were huddled and hugging each other, as one of the tour guides would jump out at us here and there-having done this for quite some time, his timing was impeccable.

We all made it out in one piece. On the ride back into Killarney, Rebecca told us how she felt something touch her leg when everyone was in the abbey and Mike had a great picture of a few good orbs on his phone.

We stopped quick to get some ice cream for the walk back to the apartments. Yumzers.

Those who did not go on the Ghost Tour visited each other in the apartments. Robert even hosted a tea party which Counselor Kate said was a lot of fun!

Another amazing day in the #ILE15 books.