In the Cork School of Art, a student in 1832 once stated that “we are indebted for the weaving of that spell which once brought up before our eyes the brightest forms of antiquity for inspiration.”
This is perhaps one of my favorite quotes of all time, and one that I find to dearly describe the precise nature of the ILE. The quote discusses the importance of expressing our joy and gratitude for something created for us by the natural world, and that is precisely what the ILE teaches–the beauty and true nature of Ireland, and to appreciate those within it. This quote also raises a question—how will the students express their gratitude for this spectacular little corner of the world?
With this beauty of the many natural wonders of life in mind, everyone embarked onto our next grand adventure—Charle’s Fort!! Europe’s best-preserved star-shaped fort (constructed in the 1600s), it stands sentinel above Kinsale Harbor in County Cork. The Fortress is protected with such a crazy multitude of defenses, you can barely even understand why anyone in their right minds would want to try breaking in. It also played its own role in many famous battles, including The Williamite War of 1690, and the Irish Civil War of 1922, which was when the Fort stopped being garrisoned by the British Army.
After everyone was showed around by our (once again) fantastic OPW tour guide, they had a few minutes of free time to wander before heading back to the bus.
A short rain shower followed us on the 10-minute drive to the sweet little town of Kinsale, but quickly abated by the time everyone had their packed lunches (we could eat those in the town or buy something from the many little shops or market to eat). For the next two hours, everyone strolled around in groups to look at the tiny rows of bright houses and colorful little shops. Edward and Orion went in search of a Celtic Knot necklace at the market, then went and got some ice cream. Most of the other kids followed suit and also went to get some ice cream, curiously sampling ‘brown bread’ or ‘Dingle sea salt’ flavors.
We all too soon met at the bus—but the adventure was far from finished! We drove into Cork City, the second biggest city in the Republic (Dublin being the first). It was here on the crazy sidewalks, tucked among the massive buildings of all ages, that we met our fantastic tour guide. She took us on an eye-opening, history-rich walking tour through the city, in which everyone agreed that it tremendously helped them get their bearings in the many higgledy-piggledy streets. After that, everyone received a stipend to go get something to eat. Some groups went in search for a sit-down meal—perhaps some pub food or fish and chips—while others preferred to stroll around the English Market and purchase little things from here and there. Some folks even tried SuperMac’s—Ireland’s version of McDonald’s.
Luckily, everyone made it back to the bus in time! Well done to everyone for navigating that crazy city.
The bus drive home consisted of jamming out to some awesome songs, including one very special one about bovine freedom. When we returned, everyone had free time until lights-out at 11:30. Most people deigned to play some sports, and some others ordered takeout food that was delivered to Newtown. But soon, everyone was collapsing into their beds after another wonderful day on the Emerald Isle.