Sunday, July 13th, 2014
The day started out as most days have thus far on the trip. We woke up entirely too early and had a predictable breakfast that consisted of cereal and orange juice. The students started in Scones’ Irish literature class at 9 AM and learned about many more famous Irish writers. After literature, they attended their Irish American History class with Brigid. The main topic of this particular class was Thomas Francis Meagher and his connection to the draft riots during the civil war in Ireland. Other notable facts were that Meagher was the first to unveil the Tri-Color Irish Flag and that he later became the Governor of Montana after the American Civil War. Being from Montana, Linnea was definitely impressed with this tidbit of knowledge. Taryn’s class turned into an episode of Family Feud that involved all 22 students in the group. She quizzed the teams on a wide variety of aspects from her Irish Studies class.
We had fabulous fajitas for lunch and then boarded the bus to go into the city. Taryn gave us a brief tour from the bus and told us about the parts of the city as we were passing through. My favorite part was when she talked about Phoenix Park. We found out that the park contains the Dublin Zoo, the US Ambassador’s House and the President’s residence-the Áras an Uachtaráin. Taryn also made sure that we all knew that she’ll be running the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon around the park after the program has ended. We continued deeper and parked on Nassau Street. We then met a former ILE teacher, Dan, in St. Stephen Green for a more in depth walking tour around the Ireland’s capital. He pointed out few pubs in Temple Bar and gave Taryn the opportunity to remind the students that they signed a Behavioral Contract so they could only enjoy the pubs from afar. Dan showed us the O’Connell Bridge, which is wider than it is long as it crosses the River Liffey. We also crossed the Ha’Penny Bridge. The most interesting thing about this bridge is that it has steps going all the way up and all the way back down the other side. The reason behind this design was simple-because horses couldn’t climb the steps, it allowed ladies to cross the river on a bridge that was cleaner than alternative routes. We also saw the Spire, a Millennial project that Dan informed us was completed in 2006, and cost upwards of 4 million Euros to erect. He explained that the citizens were frustrated with the project because it was so costly, aesthetically unappealing, and had no real or functional purpose. After his short rant, Dan led the students down Grafton Steet, a major pedestrian shopping street in the heart of Dublin. We enjoyed street performers, great people watching, and a bit of rain. After Dan’s hilarious (Yet historically accurate.) tour, the students had a couple hours of free time to spend shopping, eating, or just staying dry!
We got back to Kings Hospital at about 6:30 PM and immediately ate supper. Afterwards, the students split up into their drama groups to work on their skits that they’ll be presenting at the end of our time in Dublin. I’m always impressed by how much discipline the students have to work and avoid the distractions brought about by WiFi access and other students. The students went to their Irish dance class with Casey around 8:30 PM. They practiced the Walls of Limerick, tuned up their jigs, and stretched a little bit after too.
Nobody realized that there was going to be a disco in the auditorium until we walked past and heard the bass knocking the door down. The students quickly turned their swagger up a few notches then got back down to dance the night away. The auditorium turned into a melting pot of American, Spanish, Italian, and Irish students with very different styles of dancing with everything that you’d expect to see at a dance; lasers, strobe lights, fog machines and tons of enthusiasm. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I’m pretty sure our students had the most fun. The disco ended around 11 PM and everyone was exhausted so most of the students took showers and hung out in a common room at the bottom of our dorm. Aaron led a sing along on the piano and Stephen sent us to sleep tinkling the ivories with a beautiful lullaby.