855-IRISH-LIFEapply now Request Info

ILE Adventures

The students started off the morning with a delightful breakfast. Again the popular Rice Krispie cereals accompanied by orange and apple juice are always a big hit. Pierce took it upon himself to have three massive helpings. After brekkie, it was onto the second to last day of class.

Michael started off class with Voice Avenue and finished with Chris Brown’s, “With You.” Before the end came though, Michael taught the students about James Joyce and WB Yeats. Anna M. and Garrett agreed that Yeats was a pedophile. Anna M. also told us that our bus driver from the day before taught the kids about the 1916 Rising that began on Easter Monday and lasted for six days. It was the first major demonstration of force since the United Irishmen rising of 1798. Among the men leading the force was James Connolly and Padraig Pearse. Padraig Pearse is also one of the main drama groups, so the kids were familiar with him. The United Irishmen led a 1,000 man force and took over several buildings in Dublin despite the odds. It’s considered to be the first act towards the Irish Independence. Wrapping up the classes Michael talked to the kids about US Presidential visits to Ireland and how it’s a rather big deal when it happens. Angie was next with her Irish literature and the students finished James Joyce and WB Yeats in prep for the GPO (General Post Office) and the Kilmainham Gaol Tour the next day. Both are historical areas for the Easter Rising and Yeats and Joyce were once there leading the way. Scones finished up the day with a little Irish bingo and the kids were off to lunch.

For lunch we had chicken sandwiches and chips. Dee-lish! The first time since touching the Irish soil, the students had real ketchup. “Small, but a rather satisfying gesture,” said Lauren. We also had a potato salad at the salad bar, as well as some delightful coleslaw. Abby and Rose were lucky enough to get seconds on fries, before the lunch ladies copped on that they had already had a helping previously. After lunch it was free time. Most went to the mall and did some shopping. While at the mall, Abby and Rose got some Tangtastics for Mama T. Rose also mentioned that a guy came up and sat next to me and started telling her about his life. He sat on the bench, while his wife went shopping. “Because that is what men are supposed to do,” he told Rose. He worked in construction and he uses his hands… Life lessons are found around every corner on the ILE. Lauren and Anna M. stayed in and drew as well as hung out in the lobby with one another. Peirce also stayed on campus, where he sang a few songs with Miles. Abby also let us know that because today was 7/11, she was missing free slurps back in the states and a little tear ran down her check.

Then it was half five and time for dinner. Tonight was rice and chicken or rice and beef. I think many would say it was a 50/50 split tonight on the selection among the team. After dinner, the students had until seven to relax and enjoy the campus. Some drew some landscapes and tractors with Casey in the office, while others used the time to shower and get ready for a night out to the movies. Angie and Casey walked the students over to the movies and the two options for the night were Despicable Me 3 and Spider Man. Four of students went to Spider Man and eight went to Despicable Me. Upon return, the Spider Man reviews were 100% and even rotten tomatoes had nothing to say about the movie. However, the Despicable Me crew, were not impressed. Instead they thought that the fist movie was the best one and got worse. From there it was off to bed and another’s day adventure to look forward on #ILE2017.

Coldplay’s Tissue!!!

Today we finally had a chance to sleep in and rest our bones after a long night of dancing with the Italian and Spanish students at the King’s Hospital disco. Garrett slept for the full 12 hours, while others opted to wake up and go to mass before catching a delicious and nutritious breakfast of fruit and cereal. Most everyone was well rested and feeling fresh for the easy day ahead.

All the students were on time for the bus, and then we were on our way to tour Croke Park before 1:00 PM. On the way to the third biggest stadium in Europe our self-proclaimed “ginger enthusiast”, Tippy, pointed out every single redheaded person she saw and may have fallen in love with serval handsome young men during the 25 minute bus ride. We also had a quick would-you-rather that involved giving up either bread or cheese for the rest of our lives. The group was nearly split down the middle with each side supporting their decisions to give up arguable the best foods ever. Anna M. had a convincing argument for giving up cheese based on a burger scenario…, she rephrased the question as “would you rather have a hamburger with no cheese or a cheeseburger with no bun?” After this deep philosophical debate, we all realized that pizza would never be the same and that we were feeling peckish.

We arrived at Croke Park, and faced the seemingly never-ending battle of fighting over ham sandwiches or swapping with a friend to get both ham and cheese. Abby and Brigid took a page out of Shona’s Irish cookbook and put their potato chips in the sandwiches for extra filling and a little crunch. Our tour guide, Aran, filled us in about the Gaelic Athletic Association. We watched a ten minute film that gave a spot on representation of what match days look like in Croke Park during the all-Ireland finals for both men’s and women’s football and hurling. He then showed us around the Opel sponsor’s box and explained that a box like the one we were in would cost about 163,000 Euros and would give them opportunities to bring clients to games for three years. Aran told us that people who actually show up to watch the games would much prefer to sit in the stands because the atmosphere is so much more electric and intimate there than behind the glass walls in the boxes.

After the box, he took us to a locker room and elaborated on the fact that each dressing room is exactly the same dimension, temperature, and layout so that neither team has an advantage. We got a peek at every county’s jerseys, and even got to see the shirts from the New York and the London teams. Our students got to see the warm up room adjacent to the locker room where athletes would do most of their stretching and loosening up before taking the pitch for what could be the biggest game of their lives. Before we knew it, we were running down the tunnel that the best GAA players in Ireland would take before sprinting onto the field surrounded by up to 82,500 roaring fans.

When we got to the pitch, it looked like a construction site. Apparently, Coldplay had played a show the night before and there were loads of people working to break down the stage, pick up confetti, and rip up the plastic floor that was covering the perfectly manicured grass. This concert was one of only three that would take place in the stadium this year, and it takes the workers three days to set up and tear down. It’s quite the feat considering that the GAA still has scheduled matches surrounding the sold-out concerts.

Aran took us up to the highest seats in the stands and Angie nearly had a panic attack. It’s not for the faint of heart or people with fears of heights, and it’s enough to make even the bravest of students uneasy. We got a history lesson about the reasons behind the names of each stands and a day that remains in the minds and hearts of the Irish people. On Bloody Sunday, English soldiers entered Croke Park in search of contraband items, namely guns, that were used during the Irish War of Independence. They ended up firing into the crowd that showed up to watch a football match between Dublin and Tipperary and killed 13 people, one of whom was competing in the games.

Our last stop of the tour was the lounge in which the players will hang out and drink a pint after their games. It looked a little different than it usually would because Coldplay used the lounge as their green room and it looked like they may have been joined by a few dozen friends. Peirce took pictures of the table that the musicians could’ve eaten at and debated finishing up their left-over fries while Tippy was zooming in on a dirty tissue. When the students realized that they were sitting on a couch that was brought in specifically for the band, they forgot that the Gaelic Athletic Associated even existed, but it was a treat to see them so excited.

After TK took his fair share of pictures, we took the escalator to the museum on the next level. Casey managed to score an impressive 121 steps on the high knee game, but was blown out of the water by Abby who managed to high step into the record books with 195. Aubrey and Anna M. took turns trying to kick a Gaelic football into a series of small holes in a wall, while Hannah and Tippy cheated in a hand pass game. When everybody was way too sweaty for the anticipated amount of effort, we decided it was time to head back to King’s Hospital.

Dinner was absolutely gorgeous. The boneless chicken breasts were perfectly fried with just the right amount of batter served up with sides of green beans and potatoes and gravy. Nom. Nom. Nom. Thirty short minutes after absolutely stuffing our faces we were playing a highly competitive game of kickball using paper weighed down with rocks as makeshift bases. Miles’s Team, AKA Team USA, was made up of Abby, Aubrey, Garrett, Hannah, Rose, and Tippy. Everyone else was on Taryn’s team, AKA Team Ireland. At the end of the day, the score doesn’t really matter…, but Team USA won by a landslide.

Both teams met up in our own little players’ lounge next to the office to celebrate Anna M.’s 18th birthday. The candles were lit on top of a small chocolate cake and her ILE Family shouted the song at the top of their lungs before devouring the pastry. Because it was her birthday, we let Anna choose the movie for the night which ended up being Anchorman, a hilarious film starring Will Ferrell. Anna said some of the highlights were playing apples to apples and giving the boys a drawing of themselves that she made. “It was like my birthday present to me to give it to them.”

As another eventful day drew to a close, Scones went to check on the girls to make sure that everybody was in their respective rooms with the lights out. She channeled her inner-demon and sang them lullabies in “literally the creepiest voice I’ve ever heard” according to Brigid. Lauren missed the whole thing because she was sleep walking, around campus with no shoes on.

A Giant of a Tale!


This was the beginning of the day when we all had to roll ourselves out of bed at 6.15 this morning to head to the North of Ireland. Strange noises and varying sounds which were barely recognizable as English were made by staff and students alike as we made our way to breakfast and carried on sleeping whilst shoving food and coffee down our throats.

At 7:00 AM we boarded the bus and set off for one of the best days of the trip-to God’s Country as Angie said (She’s from Belfast so knows what she’s talking about!). The sun was shining and it promised to be a good day.

We passed through Belfast and made our way to the Antrim Coast for our first stop at Carrick-a-Rede Island. Strung 85 feet above the sea, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge connects the mainland to the tiny island which is a salmon fishery. All of that is well and good, but the main function of the Rope Bridge is to scare the bejaysus out of tourists while it sways, leaps, and bucks under you as you cross it. Angie was telling the kids that this is her 17th time at the Rope Bridge and she still hasn’t crossed it. Hannah held her hand and said soothing words and in Angie’s 17 years of visiting, this year was destined to be different. Yeah in her dreams! She looked at the Bridge moving in the wind and made a runner in the opposite direction back towards the bus! Hannah said afterwards with full Irish wit “thank God I didn’t fall!”

When the kids came back, they cheered Angie up when Anna M. Aubrey, and Tippy gave her a drawing, which now takes pride of place on the staff room wall, and Brigid gave her a beautiful flower she picked on the Island.

Next stop was the Giant’s Causeway, which is a UNESCO Heritage site right on this fantastic little island of ours.

Now the story of the Giant’s Causeway is an interesting one. Long, long ago there lived an Irish giant called Fionn McCool, who was a very famous warrior. Meanwhile in Scotland, there lived a giant called Ben An Donner and, although they had never met, there was great competition between the two. The story goes that Fionn McCool built the Causeway between Ireland and Scotland so he could go over to kick Ben An Donner’s butt and become the greatest of all giants, but when he saw how big and powerful Ben An Donner was he ran back across the Causeway to Ireland.

Ben An Donner heard that Fionn McCool had come to Scotland and was none too happy. At home, Fionn McCool was sitting with his wife when he heard BOOM BOOM BOOM. When he looked out the window, he saw Ben An Donner coming across the Causeway. Fionn’s wife knew she had to do something and dressed Fionn up in baby clothes and a soother and put him in a baby cot. BANG BANG BANG-Ben An Donner was at the door. When Fionn’s wife opened the door, she put her finger to her lip and said “Shush-you’ll wake the baby.” Ben An Donner looked at the baby in the cot, not realizing that it was Fionn McCool dressed up and when he saw the size of the “baby” he thought to himself, “Holy S**t! If that’s the size of the baby, what size is the father Fionn McCool?” And with that he ran back to Scotland, tearing up the Causeway as he went.

Now some people will tell you that the Giant’s Causeway is made up of 37,000 black basalt columns which are the result of a massive subterranean explosion, but we know that is waffle and that the Fionn McCool version is the true reason it exists.

At the Causeway, we did a hike and Rebecca looked after Angie really well to make sure she didn’t collapse from all the exercise! The kids took fantastic photographs and the staff photo bombed quite a few! Aubrey said the views were “breathtaking” and John Paul just loved the Causeway.

We did a stop off for dinner in the beautiful seaside town of Ballycastle and when we arrived home, Rebecca put her new dress on, Peirce put his new jacket on, and the rest of the kids glammed up in their glad rags for the Saturday Night Disco. Garret had the moves and was closely watched by a whole crowd of Spanish and Italian kids who even though they tried, couldn’t copy the complicated moves-though Miles wasn’t too far behind.

Then it was bed check and lights out for another day.

Thought for the day: Although we visited a UNESCO site, the discovery of the day was not this but FANTA LEMON-check that out!

Bye Bye Waterford!

And so begins another day. This one was rather special as the Waterford leg of ILE 2017 finished and a new chapter began.

But anyway-enough of all that mushy stuff lets tell you about what we did today.

As usual, alarms went off at the crack of dawn (7:30 AM in teenager land!) and off everyone trotted to have the last nutritious and delicious breakfast in Waterford. After copious amounts of cereal and toast throughout the week-the Coco Pops, Cornflakes, Muesli, and Weetabix graced the tables for the final time and the last mouthfuls of said cereals were consumed before the kids grabbed their notebooks and pens and trotted off to class.

Scones taught the kids about the Irish Counties before teaching numbers in Irish and playing a game of bingo-and the winner was Bridget so well done you! During her next class Scones told the kids about Irish Myths and Legends and the story of the Salmon of Life.

In Michael’s class, the kids were treated to information on Mounds, the Stone Age, and the Iron Age.

Following class the kids made their way back to the Canteen to have the last supper- or lunch-in Waterford, gave gifts to the fabulous kitchen staff who looked after us so well and were so lovely, and made their way to the bus to begin their next adventure.

We saw Peter again, who was our bus driver on the day the kids arrived from the States, and Taryn was delighted, as he is great craic and talks so much that the journey just flies by…

With a chorus of Bye Bye Waterford, the bus rolled off and two and a half hours later the bus pulled up in King’s Hospital School and Angie was greeted with hugs, kisses, and screeches of welcome back.

King’s Hospital is a great place to be and after the quietness of Waterford the group didn’t know what hit them when they walked in to the school and were greeted by the noise of nearly 400 Spanish and Italian students. Aubrey said “I like all the other students-the Spanish kids are hilarious.”

The kids were so excited-we have our very own dorm with two students per room and the best thing, according to the kids, was…, WIFI!!! How little it takes to keep our group happy. The dorm also has a common room where the kids can chill out, have a chat, check their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat and generally be as happy as pigs in the proverbial.

Dinner was followed by Irish Dance and Casey said the kids were doing really well at dancing the Hay Makers Jig, which is their favorite dance.

During Drama class the kids finished off their Limericks and gave Angie, Scones, and Taryn a great giggle-the craic was great. The winning group was announced as Brigid, Hannah, Peirce, Rose and Tippy. For their prize they each received a book of Irish Wit and Wisdom so when they get back to their parents and start to quote funny things you’ll know exactly where it came from.

Kids had free time in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre where, according to Garrett, Peirce bought a “sick jacket” (Not one that he was ill over, but one that was really cool!). Rebecca bought a gorgeous dress and chokers and John Paul came back with a fab new pink shirt, which he really suits.

At bed check the kids told us that:

“Rooms here are luxurious-I’m so happy!” -Anna M.

“Food here is great.” -Hannah

Garrett told us that he just realized after a week in Ireland that “bank times are really messed up” (Took a week to realize that they close at weekends, but better than Angie who took two years to realize this even though she was born and bred in Ireland.).

It’s an early start tomorrow so teeth were brushed, faces cleansed and hair brushed and at 11:00 PM lights were flicked off and all of a sudden the dorms became a quiet place…

Cool, wow, awesome.

Castle Magic

Today was a tour day to Cahir Castle and Kilkenny Castle-both very interesting places but in different ways. Cahir Castle, one of the largest castles in Ireland, is sited on an island in the River Suir (Where Scones fell into when she was twelve years old-a well known ILE fact.) It was built from 1142 and situated in Cahir town centre, County Tipperary. It had been occupied by the Butler family for 800 years! We had a guided tour and then were able to explore on our own. Taryn and Miles like to play a few tricks now and then by “BOO!” startling students and videoing their reactions in slow motion, which should make for a fun montage by the time we leave.

Kilkenny Castle, also occupied by Butlers, was grand in scale and elegance. From its hand painted wallpaper to the great dining hall and rose gardens. This castle had no shortage of luxury. Our French tour guide, Gerard, reminded us a lot of Mr. Bean and made for an interesting tour.

Students ate their packed lunches on the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, but that didn’t stop some from purchasing a second lunch or coffee in town. We had two hours of free time to explore Kilkenny before heading back to Newtown School.

After dinner a handful of students played basketball-Abby, Brigid, Casey, Garret, Hannah, the Kane Twins, Michael, and Miles all showed their skills on the court-some better than others;). It was a fun form of exercise after a lot of food!

Tonight’s workshop was St. Brigid’s Crosses which students made out of long green rushes. Taryn led this workshop outside since the weather was nice.

Next up was TK’s Minute-to-Win-It games. These were so fun! Students were split into teams of three or four and set up to accomplish challenging tasks in a minute each. One challenge was stacking glue sticks using chopsticks. Lauren completed this almost impossible task in record time! Another was to place a cookie on your forehead and move it down to your mouth without using your hands. This definitely was the most funny to participate in and watch!

Students took turns in their teams and then the teams would rotate stations, while each time Taryn would play the Minute-to-Win-It song which adds more pressure to the tasks. The first place team was Casey, Lauren, and Miles, who received a Cork flag and candy! The second place team also received Cork flags and included Anna M., Aubrey, and Rebecca.

Earlier in the day, Taryn had snuck off to the joke shop and bought some fake poo…, yep…, and gave it to Tippy’s roommates who placed it by her bed! She screamed and they all had a good laugh. They left it outside their door over night and the cleaning ladies thought it was real in the morning! Luckily Shona was there to scoop it up for them.

The Flour Crusade!

What a gorgeous day! Today was a class day where students learned the timeline from the Celts to the Norman’s in Irish History with Irish Teacher, Michael. They also covered the Ulster Scots and the events leading up to the famine and immigration in Irish American history.

After classes and lunch, we had a hurling workshop with our local friend Mark Cooney. Did I mention how glorious the weather was? Hurling, if you don’t know, has been described as a combination of field hockey and murder, but we started with the basics. Mark had students running drills with the sliotar (The hurley ball.) and even had a Poc Fada contest to see who could hit it the furthest. John Paul was the winner, with Garret and Pierce tied for second. Counselor TK took some videos during the workshop with his awesome drone, so we can’t wait to see them!

The students were given an hour break before the scones workshop with Scones (AKA Shona.). The students were split into three teams to see who could bake the best tasting scones. Naturally, as it so often does, the room burst into a bit of a flour fight, mostly students vs. Counselor Miley.

Abby was the leader of this flour crusade against Miles. She and a few other students were able to corner him into the bathroom, where he remained trapped until dinner.

The scones were ready for us at dinner and were very good! Some had raisins, others had chocolate chips, but there was one definite winning team according to Judge Scones. The winning team included Aubrey, Garret, Hannah, and Tippy!

After dinner the students were taken on a surprise trip to the Escape Room in Waterford. Everyone was split into three groups and each put in a room full of mysteries, puzzles, equations, and riddles and each having a different theme and backstory. We had to work together to decipher a code in order to escape the room. Luckily we were able to ask for clues and all made it out! This trip was an ILE first and everyone had a great time and Scones had a great shortcut for the walk home too (Not!).

After we returned to campus students had free time. Some watched a movie while others ordered pizza and Chinese food for a second dinner before bedtime.

Rose said she is having so much fun, she might not every come home. Don’t worry Molly and Tom, we will make sure she gets on the flight on the 23rd:).

Happy 4th of July from Ireland!

Early start today because the bus was leaving at 8:30 AM, but it seems to be surprisingly easy for everybody to rise when it’s not a class day. It being the 4th of July, the fabulous kitchen staff put on a special spread for breakfast for their favorite Americans. It was time to give celebrating Ireland a break in favor of America for the next 12 hours.

Today’s trip was to Kinsale to see Charles Fort built in the 1600’s and used to protect England from invaders using Ireland as a backdoor entrance. The journey to Kinsale was just long enough to allow the sleepy heads some well needed nap time. Unfortunately we realized within the first five minutes of tour guide questions going unanswered that there hadn’t been enough nap time! Finan, our guide was well able to fill in the tired silence’s with detailed facts about the architecture of the fort, the logic behind the star shape, the history of how the soldiers and their families lived inside the fort as well as the rather impressive fact of Charles Fort having a 100% failure rate. This despite the fact it is widely recognized for how well thought out the architecture and construction was. Finan finished the tour with a dramatic tale of The White Lady, the old Governor’s daughter that jumped to her death due to heartbreak a few hundred years ago but mysteriously still hasn’t left Charles Fort and makes regular appearances in her old bedroom…, a bit too spooky for some of our students but the perfect opportunity provided for the staff to scare the Kane twins a little more.

The students all had some time to take a few pictures of the fort and the lovely views of Kinsale Bay. Bridget commented that it was beautiful in every way and it really was!

We left Charles fort to spend some time in Kinsale village for lunch and to give everybody a chance to explore. John Paul spent his time window shopping through the small windy streets along the multi-colored unique shops. Abby, Bridget, Brigid, and Rose all found a small fairy tale store, completely colorful and full of pretty and magical little gifts. They were in awe of how cute everything was and funnily enough the shop owners were in awe of how cute Abby was, even asked if she’d be the shop mascot for the summer! Unfortunately the ILE wasn’t willing to leave her behind so don’t worry Mr. and Mrs. Howles she will be returning with us after-all.

On the way back to the bus Taryn stopped to get all the students a ’99 ice cream, the Staff feel it’s part of their job to prove Ireland has some of the best food in the world, be it scones made by Scones, Kinsale ’99’s or Cadbury crunchies-we’re pretty sure all of the students know Irish dinners can’t be beaten already.

After Kinsale, #ILE17 went to Cork City, the real capital of Ireland and possibly the best place on earth, ***The writer of this blog is in no way biased, this is an objective fact with absolutely no subjectivity allowed for.***

After all of our pushing Irish food Aubrey and Tippy needed a little home comfort and opted for some fried chicken which was apparently “goo-oo-ood,” but not spicy enough. After a few hundred years of living off of potatoes, having any bit of spice is adventurous enough for us Irish I’m afraid.

Students got to explore the famous English Market in Cork, a mainly outdoor market with the largest range of mouth watering goodies…, mostly. They have handmade Irish chocolates and cute little cupcakes, there’s every type of olive you could ever imagine, mouth watering pies and then the next stall may just have a full cow tongue staring back at you just in case you want to cook up some real traditional dishes.
John Paul was pretty delighted with the €2 adapter he managed to find in the market, sometimes not coming prepared works out in your favor. There was just enough time for a few souvenirs to be purchased in some of the shops throughout Cork, but we can’t go into detail on any of those in case we give away a few surprises.

Home time finally with a few tired heads on the bus, but when we arrived back in Waterford and the students remembered we were getting pizza to celebrate Independence Day, they perked up fairly lively. None more so than Hannah though, who said she’s always wanted pizza on her birthday, but with 7/4 being such a BBQ day it never worked out for her. Safe to say she wasn’t too homesick on her birthday celebrating with some of her newest best friends and her favorite food. The birthday cake, balloons and watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, (What a classic!) were just the icing on the chocolate cake. Pun intended.

The students also had an opportunity to light sparklers (All the way from America-thanks to Casey), wear patriotic glasses, and sing the Star Spangled Banner.

With all the sugar and excitement bed time may have been pushed out ever so slightly, never an issue though as it’s usually Taryn that keeps everybody up with her chats, jokes, and singsongs. Back to celebrating Ireland for the next 20 days. America will have to wait.

Up Galway!

On Sunday, the students woke up bright and early and were served another delicious meal of fruit, orange juice, toast, and yogurt-all brekky staples on the Irish Life Experience.

They were then treated to a double class of Irish literature with Angie, where they would learn more about James Joyce and Ulysses. Hannah really enjoys Angie’s class, as she has dabbled with Irish literature in her own school back home in Illinois.

After class, it was finally time for one of our alumni’s favorite days of the Irish Life Experience. …The Leinster Hurling Finals at Croke Park in Dublin-Galway vs. Wexford. The majority of students decided that they would root for Galway (At the suggestion of Scones), while Anna, Aubrey, Rose, and Tippy would cheer for Wexford. The #ILE17 Group quickly boarded the bus-donned in their supporting team’s colors-of either maroon and white or purple and yellow face paint.

Once in Dublin and a packed lunch in hand, the group made their way to Croke Park through the maze of alleys. Croke Park seats 82,300 people and boasts that it’s the third largest stadium in Europe. Very impressive! This is the home of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) and where Gaelic football and hurling would be played in Ireland. They also have a few periodical concerts there as well over the course of the year.

The students were in awe of the facility and happily ate their packed lunches of sandwiches and Tayto crisps with fruit and a granola bar. Deelish! Taryn has recently discovered adding crips to her sandwiches is quite tasty, so she was thrilled to try this again today.

The stadium was almost sold out, so the ILE’ers really got a good sense of the buzz that surrounds a hurling match and how passionate people are about their sports in Ireland. Michael shared the basic rules of the sport, so the students got the gist of game. “I could never figure out who was winning, but it was SO cool to watch,” said Rose. Rebecca also said it was neat-o to sing the National Anthem, as they had learned and practiced it in Irish the day before.

The first half of the game was neck and neck and everyone thought it was going to be a nail biter, but Galway stepped it up in the second half to pull ahead of Wexford and ended up winning the match with a 0-29 to 1-17 score. Peirce said he was looking forward to the hurling workshop on Wednesday and really learning how to play the sport.

Once the match was finished, the students took a few group pictures and then stopped at King’s Hospital (Where the group would be staying in Dublin.) for a quick dinner of chicken and pasta. It was then back on the bus for the long bus ride back south to their home of Waterford for the next week. It was a fantastic day and the students had a blast!

A Day In the Life…

Rise and shine #ILE17! Saturday, July 1st, marked the first class day of the Program. Students woke up at 8:00 AM, showered, and made their way to breakfast. Cereal, fruit, orange juice, toast, and yogurt were set out for the group to devour this morning. With stomachs full, they were ready to put their thinking caps on and learn all about Ireland.

The first class of the day was a double Irish literature class with Angie. She talked about the history of Irish Literature, including myths and legends, the Renaissance of Irish Literature, and told the students they would be studying W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, and Frank O’Connor. Today the students started with James Joyce and his very colorful life. Tomorrow the students will be treated to a taste of Ulysses.

They then had a Dail (Announcements in Gaelic), followed by a Saoir (Break in Gaelic).

The next class of the day was Irish history with Michael. His class was an introductory lesson and he talked about the first settlers in Ireland.

Gaelic was next up with Scones and she gave the students their Irish names and then taught them the Irish National Anthem to prepare them, so they could sing it for the Leinster Hurling Finals the next day. Lauren said she is really enjoying Gaelic, but finds it very difficult.

After Scones’s class, the ILE Staff had an important orientation with the students and went over some basic rules of the Program, while also going over the calendar for the Waterford portion. They learned all of the exciting adventures they would experience over the next week.

Dinner was next on the agenda with a delicious meal of chicken tacos. Then the students were treated to a walking tour of Waterford with Tyler, where they would familiarize themselves with the layout of the city. Anna T. said she really likes Waterford, because it’s such an easy city to navigate. The students spent the rest of the afternoon exploring, before they had to sign-in at 5:00 PM. They then had a delicious meal of hot dogs and french fries that were served for tea. A little taste of home!

After tea it was time for drama and dance. The students were split into three drama groups. One group was Michael Collins and Samuel Beckett, another was Eamonn de Valera and James Joyce, and the last group was Padraig Pearse and WB Yeats. The evening was spent learning about their assigned historical figures and then they were assigned the task of writing a limerick for the first week. The ILE Staff can’t wait to see what some of the students come up with over the next few days. They are always impressed with their creativity.

Drama went straight into dance with Counselor Casey. Casey made sure the students were well stretched before she instructed them on a few basics…, 3’s, 7’s, and “Rocking Horse.” The Irish dancers of Abby, Brigid, Bridget, and Rose demonstrated a few reels to the rest of the group and everyone was thoroughly impressed. Casey thinks that the Irish Life Experience might even have a few Riverdance potentials on their hands.

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing with students having a music session, watching Pitch Perfect, or writing in journals.

A wonderful day had by all-needless to say!

Up the Deise!

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.