On Monday morning we had our first castle tour at Cahir Castle, which is one of the largest castles in Ireland. It was built in 1142 by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond and is situated on an Island in the River Suir in Cahir town centre, County Tipperary. The castle was lived in by the Butler family for 600 years, resulting in its superb condition instead of falling to ruins. It’s last owner had no heirs, so the property was claimed by the government after his death in the 1960’s.
The students were lead on a guided tour throughout the grey and stony castle grounds, after which they were allowed to explore on their own. Some students made their way up to the towers, which had empty rooms, but excellent views of the surrounding town. Other students explored the guarding walls, peering out the archer windows and imagining how it may have been at a time when the castle was under attack.
Before leaving, we all gathered on top of one of the guarding walls for a picture. Some students had to overcome their fear of heights, but did a great job:)! Our next stop was Kilkenny Castle.
The bus ride was about an hour long. Some students chose to use this time to catch up on sleep and others talked or played games such as “Heads Up.” Today was the first day some of the students played “Bus Surfing”-a game in which its participants stand in the aisles of the bus, plant their feet firmly and can’t break away from their standing position. It is a challenging task as the ride at times is a bit bumpy and many Irish roads are winding, and if you’re not looking ahead you may not be prepared for a red light. Once you move your feet or have to catch yourself, you’re out, eventually resulting in one winner.
Upon arriving to Kilkenny we ate our packed lunches in the park on the castle grounds. We were able to have some free time in Kilkenny before our tour of the castle. The town, like many in Ireland, was quaint with loads of shops and also quite musical. There were many young locals “busking” playing and singing music on the streets. Some played traditional Irish music, others did not-all on a variety of instruments such as guitar, cello, and concertina.
The students met up at 3 PM for our tour of Kilkenny Castle, also inhabited by members of the Butler family. This castle was very different from that of Cahir, as it was fully decorated from a different time period. It felt very rich and proper with it’s wall sized tapestries, silk wallpaper, and delicate dinner settings. Giant portraits of its residents hung on the walls and the grounds were lush green and complete with a rose garden and fountain. It was the kind of castle you would imagine for a royal family, the Butlers were indeed a well to do family.
We once again gathered for a group photo on the castle steps and were home in time for dinner. Tonight we had the Counselor Olympics, organized by Counselor Miley. Each counselor took turns drafting students for their teams. There were four events; Human Tic Tac Toe, Dizzy Hurley, Pass the Apple, and the Wheelbarrow Race.
The students all gave valiant efforts to get their team the most points. Some of us, as expected, weren’t very coordinated in all of the events. One of the greatest events to watch as a spectator was Dizzy Hurley-done relay style, where a member from each team runs across to the other side, picks up the hurly, places their forehead on it and must spin around ten times before running back and releasing the next team member to do the same.
Stephen was one of the first to go and was fast-a man with a mission. But when he darted off to return to his team after spinning, he veered steeply to the right and had a wipe out that no one could miss. He definitely set the bar for speed and determination.
We had some great pairs for the Wheelbarrow Race as well. Aaron and Rocky paired up within their team and flew across the field at a surprising speed. The winning team was counselor Ninny’s team, which included Caitlin, David, Dylan, Eddie, Grace, and Kate who received Cork Flags as prizes.
Brigid rounded out the day with a Music Workshop, where she taught Dylan and Stephen a traditional Irish song in Gaelic. Pheigin Mo Chroi and Streets of New York by the Pogues.
The students then had some free time to hang out and pack up their suitcases. Today was our last full day in Waterford as we leave for Dublin tomorrow after lunch! Up the Dubs!