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The Chain of Events

Day 4 (July 2nd):

The students had their third day of classes with Angie and Mike and Miles, and because the weather has been so gorgeous for the past few weeks, they were able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and breeze for part of it. Students have been saying “Dia duit” to me all day! (Gaelic for “hello”!)

So after covering more Irish American History with a discussion of the Ulster Scots; a reading of some of Frank O’Connor’s short stories and a basic introduction to Irish music (with the very traditional instrument known as the kazoo) and language, the students were champing at the bit to go for a bike ride. We hired our cute little sky blue bikes at Durrow and the students bicycled down 12 kilometers — approximately 7 miles — of bike paths that trace the line of the coast down to the town of Dungarven.

Unfortunately, poor Angie had a bike mishap en route when her chain got stuck in between her spokes but other than that the ride went smoothly. Once in town, the students had some free time to putter around the town for an hour or so and explore the cute shops and cafes, and take in a gorgeous view of the coast. Some of Dungarven’s infrastructure was created from stunning basalt and almost every house had flowers in their window baskets. The sea air was refreshing and cool. It is the quintessential little seaside town.

Nancy said that during the bike ride, “the views were breathtaking. We were between these cliffs covered in moss and then suddenly we were in the city again!”

We had a lovely dinner of burgers and fries at Newtown and then it was time for the evening activities. Casey lead the students through another round of the the Walls of Limerick and the basic steps to a jig. The students have been split into three groups for their drama workshops and today we finished and presented some of the limericks they’ve created on famous Irish people. For your reading pleasure, here they are in all their cheeky glory:

1. There once was a man named Yeats
And his literature was full of taste
He fell in love with Maude Gonna
She says “of you I’m not fond”
Oh dear, what a terrible waste

2. There once was an author named Joyce
His writing was very noice
He drank till he fell
Feck, that boy’s goin’ to hell
Though he didn’t have a choice

(Because alcoholism is a disease. If you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem, please call 018732699)

3.Beckett was an author of sorts
Didn’t pimp, got blood on his shorts
Waiting for Godot
Or his prize, ya know?
His talents had no distorts

It would be an understatement to say that students exercised both brain and body today, and rose to the challenge of both! Also, we have achieved WiFi — stay tuned!

Game Faces

Day 3 (July 1st):

If I haven’t mentioned before, our group of students is absolutely incredible and despite only having had their introduction to the world of GAA yesterday, today they took to the game at Croke Park like fishes to water!

But before play came work and students sat down for the second day of classes: Irish American history with Miles and the Geography of Ireland with Taryn. Both classes were absolute successes filled with laughs.

We were fortunate enough to score tickets to watch Galway versus Kilkenny. The counselors bought face paints for those so inclined to support their new favorite teams: maroon and white for Galway, and black and yellow for Kilkenny (also fondly known as the “Cats”). All of us boarded the bus to Dublin and even a few of the counselors took gentle naps. We ate a scenic lunch in a park and then headed into the packed stadium. The opening game was Carlow versus West Meath and we arrived just in time for the second half of that game. Our bus driver Tom asked us to cheer for Kilkenny — which is where he’s from — but all you could see on the bus was a wave of red and white faces…

I heard several students commenting on how glad they were that they’d done the hurling workshop before going to the game. For those unfamiliar with the spurt of hurling, it’s the national sport of Ireland and it’s like a very fast mixture of lacrosse, field hockey and rugby. To score, the sliothar (hurling ball) must make it inside the goal or in between the raised posts. We sat as a group in front of a particularly bloodthirsty gang of eight year olds who howled with disdain every time West Meath scored on Carlow.

The game was very energetic, and several sliothar made it over the net to land quite near where we were sitting. Unfortunately, no one managed to catch one. Fortunately, no one got beaned. It was neck and neck for almost the entire match, but then Kilkenny scored twice in a row to end the match in overtime with a tie. Joe asked if we would be able to see the re-match this upcoming Saturday, but unfortunately we will not be able to.

After the game, we went and had dinner at King’s Hospital, the boarding school where we will be staying from July 6th to July 13th. For dessert, they serve extremely delicious and memorable jelly donuts and I think the students enjoyed them almost as much as they delighted over the WiFi available. But don’t worry, everyone ate their vegetables first!

It was a long day and we headed back to Waterford tired and content. We apologize for the lack of posts and pictures so far, as we are still trying to sort out the WiFi situation.

It’s Always Sunny in Glendalough

Airport Day Through Day 2

The first few days of the ILE often blend together due to the different time zones and the sheer exhaustion of everyone in question. The stormy weather we experienced Thursday delayed a few student’s flights unfortunately, but everyone has arrived arrived safely as of Saturday (June 30th)! Our first jaunt of the ILE18 was out to Glendalough on Friday, straight away after we arrived at the airport with 13 of our 14 students. Unfortunately Ethyn’s flight was delayed and rescheduled so he missed it. Our bus driver John was an absolute wizard at maneuvering around the pin sharp corners and avoiding the ever-present sheep in the road.

A few kids fell asleep on the drive over but everyone perked up with the promise of lunch and a fun walk. Glendalough is a scenic lake valley created by glacial ice thousands of years ago, leaving behind in its wake distinctive slopes and a wide distribution of unique stones. The path we took lead from the small visitor’s center, through the ancient graveyard and monastic city with the 6th Century Round Tower, and into the forest until we had reached the rocky shores of the lake. The weather has been unseasonably warm and humid for the past week in Ireland and almost everyone we’ve met have started their conversations with this fact. So the kids were downright gleeful to chuck off their shoes and dash into the water to cool their toes (and dampen their pant legs).

We spent a beautiful half hour on the beach taking photos and relaxing. Then we headed back along the boardwalk that took us to the other edge of the woods, through a few scenic fields edged with foxgloves and wild roses. After that it was back onto the bus with John for the drive down to Waterford. We are currently staying at the Newtown Boarding School. The intent of this hike was to tire out the students so that they’d sleep well and dodge jet lag — but I dare say we succeeded a bit too well because many of them fell asleep on the bus again. After move-in, dinner and a few icebreakers, the students went to bed early. We can’t say we blame them.

But Saturday, they experienced their first day of classes with our beloved Angie Mervyn, teacher extraordinaire. The subject was Irish Literature and they covered some of the earliest Celtic legends and authors, including Tir na nOg and Oliver Goldsmith. Bella said, “It definitely wasn’t as boring as regular school.”

Unfortunately, during the GAA workshop with Mark I was out refreshing my memory of the town (and picking up face paint for our activity Sunday…) so I could give a quick walking tour after our visit to Waterford Crystal, so I’ll just have to trust what the students’ said about it. Anna quipped that hurling required the hand-eye coordination that she didn’t need to have for soccer. Haha!

After the GAA workshop and lunch, the students walked with us down to the famous Waterford Crystal factory and store where we watched demonstrations of glass blowing techniques and saw displays of the incredible craft Waterford. Joe volunteered to hold a lot of the examples we saw, including a football trophy and massive vase.

(I certainly hope that) the walking tour after the factory tour was great fun and we had just enough time to cover Reginald’s tower, the Granville Hotel and Thomas Meagher, the waterfront and shipping on the Suir and the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. Then the students had an hour of free time in Waterford.

That was also the first night of our culturally enriching dance and drama classes! Casey, our amazing Irish dance instructor, started the students off with the Walls of Limerick to warm them up. Then for drama, the students began writing limericks — or at least contemplating them. To wrap up a long and fast paced day, we slowed down to watch The Greatest Showman and drift off to sleep. Photos are coming soon, we promise! This is a great group of kids.

We’re Going on an Adventure!

Hi everyone!

My name is Julia Dudley and I’ll be one of your junior counselors for the ILE18, as well as the resident blogger! I am an alum of the 2015 ILE, which I went on during the summer before my senior year of high school. Now I am a junior at Cazenovia College (in New York State) pursuing my Bachelor’s in English with an Art History minor.

I have done a lot of international travel including the ILE15 and I actually just got back a few days ago from studying abroad in Poland for two weeks. Next semester I will be in Canterbury, England to study as well. So if you have any questions or fears about flying or travel, don’t worry and please feel free to find me on Facebook and send me (or any of our other amazing counselors) a message. For parents reading the blog, we intend to update it once a day when we head out and we’ll include lots of picture!

Before we go, there are a few tips I’d love to share with you — just for you to keep in the back of your mind.

Looking back, there are absolutely things that I wished I had packed for the ILE…but a lot of the things that I brought just took up weight in my suitcase. (One of my most treasured possessions is the “heavy” luggage tag I received at the airport on our way back to the states. I like to look at it and cringe.)

Shoes

Without a doubt, I brought the wrong shoes on the ILE15! I had the flimsiest sneakers ever with me and I regretted it deeply. I also brought a pair of formal ankle boots that I never ended up wearing. Ever. So my first piece of advice is to bring some really sturdy and comfortable shoes because we will be doing a lot of walking! Personally, this time around I will be bringing my Doc Martens, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of flip flops that can double as shower shoes.

Cosmetics and Amenities

Your mileage may vary on this one. I brought a variety of travel sized soaps with me in 2015 and was able to make them last for the duration of the trip but it was very cumbersome. You can do that or you can wait until you get to Ireland to purchase stuff. I would recommend bringing at least something to tide you over for the first few days just in case you won’t be able to run out and go shopping. I also recommend bringing one or two towels with you and then use them as padding for fragile things inside your suitcase.

For medications, make sure you bring enough for your trip, make sure you call in and get your refills ahead of time, and make sure you bring them in the original packaging too! If you are lactose intolerant like me or have any other dietary concerns, please make sure you bring all of your supplements etc with you as well.

Clothing

For some reason, I decided to pack things that I thought would be great in very specific outfits and things that I never wore on a day-to-day basis. What a mistake that was. I cannot encourage you enough to bring the clothes that you regularly wear. That includes one or two more formal outfits for nights we might go out for dinner as a group. Jeans, tee shirts and things that you can layer for warmth are my recommendations. Flannels and lightweight sweaters will probably be on heavy rotation for me. Of course, always check weather predictions and maybe bring something for a (rare) hot day just in case. And of course bring your raincoats! You will need them.

Technology

Make sure you get the right adapters and plugs for your chargers, etc. If you use hair straighteners or hair dryers, I would recommend forgoing them or finding some cheap ones when you get to Ireland. Even if they work with the adapters, they will probably not function well because the outlets in Ireland have a higher voltage. When I went in 2015, I did not bring my computer with me and that was probably one of the best decisions I ever made on the trip. I definitely would have been too worried about it getting damaged or misplaced to enjoy myself. If you use a Kindle or an iPad for reading, please make sure to be very careful about packing it.

That’s all for now! Your counselors and I are so excited to meet everyone and we can’t wait for you to have an amazing summer with us!