September 2009 - Irish Life Experience
While they probably feel old by now, we still love them and just can’t bring ourselves to replace the valuable testimonials from those below!
When Taryn asked me to share my thoughts about the Irish Life Experience program, I was stumped. I had no idea where to start! So many memories were made, laughs shared, and friendships born, that will last forever. I laugh every time I think of my attempt at playing rugby and Gaelic football, not to mention hurling! We were able to learn about the history of Ireland, its leaders, the language, music, poetry, dance, and spend time with its people! Truly an amazing opportunity! But what made the “craic so mighty” was the people whom I spent time with. By the end of the trip we all considered each other family. We lived together, studied together, traveled together, laughed together, and cried together. Not only the students, but our counselors as well! Taryn, Dan, Angie, Pete, Siobhan, and Brian (the coolest bus driver EVER!) made our trip an unforgettable experience! I will always remember my first visit to Ireland, and it most certainly won’t be my last. I highly recommend Irish Life Experience; this program broadened my knowledge and opened my eyes to the wonderful world we live in. I would like to thank everyone who was a part of ILE 2010 for being so amazing; you will never realize how much you mean to me! I miss you guys so much and love you even more!
-Hannah F., Elwood, IN-Student 2010
The Irish Life Experience was a complete and total refreshing encounter for both my daughter and I. As a parent, I was looking for an experience that was safe, educational and awe inspiring. I was looking for an experience that would broaden the mind of how awesome God and His creations truly are. I am not an experienced traveler, so additionally, I was looking for a way to build a comfort level for my daughter to safely travel within and outside of the USA. The ILE program exceeded my expectation on every level!
You were so helpful in answering all my questions about the ILE program prior to the application process. You were over the top helpful in arranging the non-stop connecting flights to and from New York. The updates and photos on the blog were exceptional. I don’t see any room for improvement…, everything was perfectly perfect!!!
-Mary F., Elwood, IN-Mother of Hannah 2010
I’m not about to write a bunch of cheesy things about how Irish Life Experience changed my life or anything, but I will say this: It was an incredible experience, one that I’ll be able to look back on in years to come with fondness. I spent months looking for the right organization to travel to Ireland with, and I’m confident that no other program could have given me the same kind of experience. With such a small group, we developed relationships which will last long after we left the Emerald Isle. I can think of no better way to see Ireland for the first time. It was the perfect mix of independence and structure, and I know that no other program could possibly have given me that experience. Having been a part of ILE 2010, I know that nothing can compare to that month I spent in Ireland getting to know people from all around the US at the same time as I traveled around the country I had been wanting to see for years. If I could do it all over again, I would.
-Joe P., Arlington, VA-Student 2010
We did a lot of research on summer experiences in Ireland. The Irish Life Experience was the perfect choice for Joe, who came into it knowing a lot about Ireland, its history and culture. The combination of a great itinerary and the relationships he formed with the other students, Irish and American teachers and staff added up to an extraordinary experience in this magical country.
We were doubly blessed to have Taryn and Sara at Tenon Tours help us with our own trip, meeting up with Joe at the end of his ILE summer and enjoying another week together. It was an unforgettable trip.
-Melinda P., Arlington, VA-Mother of Joe 2010
The Irish Life Experience was everything I wanted it to be and a little more. The first day we arrived, I had already had the most awkward conversation with my soon to be best friends, and I think the coldest shower I have ever had (that got fixed though). The first days in Waterford were full of fun and learning. We had our first experiences in Ireland: Petting a horse, finding a lady with a pram, learning of Siobhans Tayto’s obsession, and getting acquainted with everyone else on the trip. When I saw the different sides of Ireland, I came to love the fact that it reminded me of any where I have traveled before and the fact that it had its own personality. When you arrive in Ireland you can tell something is different about it, but it may have just been the strange Counselors (just kidding)! The Counselors (if you can even call them that) were amazing. Taryn, who worked hard to get us to the coolest places in Ireland with a smile on her face the whole time! Angie, who’s love for Irish literature, songs, and shopping made us love her. Dan who’s knowledge of history, and hilarious remarks kept everyone laughing. Siobhan who’s fun nature, and Irish Step Dancing kept everyone at ease. Pete who’s passion for Irish music and literature inspired everyone. Everything about the Counselors unique quirks made the trip a billion times better than I could have imagined. I made friends who I plan to stay in touch with and memories that I plan to carry forever. When I think of what an experience is…, I think of having fun, learning, loving, and having good company. So when I say that ILE was an experience, I mean it with the utmost sincerity.
-Savannah C., Suffield, CT-Student 2010
My name is Susan Keller and my daughter,Caitlyn Walsh, went to Ireland in July 2010. My daughter just turned 17 in June had never been away alone without a parent and never flew alone either. When we first decided to take this trip, I was really nervous. I had Taryn give me references of other parents and I must have called her many times. She was always so patient with me and I appreciate that. After the great references and speaking with Taryn, I felt comfortable with her going. When we were at the airport leaving, everyone who greeted us was so nice and so were the other kids going. My daughter had the time of her life! She always wanted to go to Ireland. They went to a lot of great places, learned a lot about the Irish culture and my daughter did grow up from this experience and she made some lifelong friends from all over. Thank you so much for taking such good care of my daughter, and the rest of the staff also. My daughter is already talking about going again next year. I will definitely be sending my other daughter. Again thank you for everything.
-Susan K., Bellmore, NY-Mother of Caitlyn 2010
These past few weeks have very likely had as strong of an impact on myself as they have had on these students, which began as an aggregate, quickly became a group, and returned home as a family. The only thing I enjoy more than spending time in Ireland is watching these students experience-with wide-eyed wonder-all the culture, history, and personality that Ireland has to offer. Angie, Brian, Dan, and Taryn have fostered each student’s adopting Ireland and now they will all bring a bit of Ireland back home with them. They will soon all be thousands of miles away from one another and this magical place, but with one song, one smell, or one memory, they will instantly realize they will always be in Ireland together, forever.
-Siobhan K., Winchester, MA-Student 2005, Counselor 2010
Friendships that will forever be cherished. Memories that will never be forgotten. An experience that has changed my life. I could sit here and write essays attempting to convey my feelings about the adventure I had in Ireland; however, there are not enough lines on a page or pages in a book or books in a library to express how grateful and truly blessed I feel to have been a part of such an incredible organization.
The Irish Life Experience not only assisted in my growth as an individual but also exposed me to an extraordinary country. Over this 24 day period, we learned a little Gaelic, brushed up on our Irish history, met the greatest people on earth, had talent shows, played games, spent a lot of money on souvenirs, toured the countryside, experienced city life, made scones, witnessed amazing monuments, climbed through castles, befriended other students from around the world, laughed until we cried, cried until we laughed, took over a gazillion pictures, swam in the ocean, had a scavenger hunt around town, studied historical and influential Irish leaders, learned how to play rugby, Gaelic football, and hurling, attempted to Irish dance, sang on the bus rides, biked around the Aran Islands, kissed the Blarney Stone, went to a concert, danced the night away in the discos, watched the crystal making process, had tea in the President’s House, took a Black Taxi Tour in Belfast, looked down from the Cliffs of Moher, saw the Leinster Gaelic Football Final, took a ferry from Ireland, went to a hurling match, painted artifacts, picnicked in the beautiful countryside, and traveled to over 20 different areas in Ireland in an effort to fully understand and appreciate the Irish Life Experience.
It seemed silly to put a price on making my dreams come true, which is why I knew I had to travel to Ireland and have an adventure. The people you meet will become family. The places you stay will feel like a home. Everything was perfect. I guess that was just the Luck of the Irish.
-PK C. (AKA Paddy), Chicago, IL-Student 2010
Many thanks to Taryn and the entire Irish Life Experience Staff for their dedication, care and hospitality during “the best summer” of PK’s life. We feel very blessed he had this incredible opportunity and sincerely appreciate the wonderful people involved in this organization. The detailed blog definitely kept us informed about the days events and the pictures were priceless. We would highly recommend this program and look forward to sending PK’s sister Erin there in the future!
-John and Lorie C., Chicago, IL-Parents of Paddy/PK 2010
I feel very fortunate to have traveled to Ireland as part of the Irish Life Experience. This was my first time away from home going away to a country that I had only heard about! Ireland is such a beautiful country so lush and green that it seems to welcome you with open arms. I learned so much about the culture and history of Ireland. The people were so welcoming and interesting. Every step of the way Taryn was there with her warm and friendly personality making the experience an unforgettable one. This was a once in a lifetime journey that I was so happy to be part of.
-Jocelyn A., Nesconset, NY-Student 2009
As a parent I was very pleased to be able to give this experience to my child. The Irish Life Experience was not your standard high school trip abroad. From the moment my daughter boarded that plane until she returned home I knew she was in good hands. She was in a safe environment with those who knew what they were doing. The culture and history classes combined with the field trips were an excellent way for the students to learn. This was a wonderful experience for my daughter. A special thanks to Taryn for all her help and support.
-Beverly H., Nesconset, NY-Mother of Jocelyn 2009
So, the summer of ’09 was by far one of the most memorable. Ireland. Who wouldn’t want to visit the land of the leprechauns? Traveling around the island was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. The experiences that I had were so much fun, and out of the ordinary for me. Mama T and Angie and Papa Dan were awesome chaperons and took very good care of their little ducklings (aka the ILErs of 09). It seems that the 24 days about the Emerald Isle really changed my personality and made me more mature. Basically, Ireland with ILE was amazing, I was seriously talking to another traveler scheming how we could go back.
-Eileen H., Alden, NY-Student 2009
Summer 2009, Irish Life Experience as seen through a Mom’s eye…
Eileen has returned home, safe and sound, with many new friends via email, skype and facebook. What is more important Eileen has returned home with a new viewpoint, maturity and appreciation of such a positive experience. Senior year is looming in the next few weeks and her summer experience has prepared her for impending life decisions. ILE provided the opportunity to gain some independence and see the world with just enough structure for a safe trip but enough freedom to explore her own interests. A special thanks goes to Taryn for her patience with all my questions, concerns and apprehension prior to the trip, even late arriving luggage was handled with a smile. Eileen is ready to return to Ireland but her ILE was more than just visiting another country, it was a stepping stone to her adulthood. It was a good parenting decision to share my beautiful daughter with ILE.
-Marilyn H., Albany, NY-Mother of Eileen 2009
This 2009 summer was by far the greatest summer of my life! I will never be able to forget all the great friends I made and all the amazing memories! Traveling around Ireland was incredible! Seeing the coast and all that the country has to offer was unbelievable. The teachers/counselors were the coolest people who made the trip so fun! I never wanted to leave!
Thank you Angie, Dan, Kendall, Pete, and Taryn!
-Caroline W., Skaneateles, NY-Student 2009
The summer of 2009 was the most memorable time of my life, and I will never forget it. I’ve always had a fascination with Ireland since I was little and have always imagined going there, but never thought it would actually happen. When I found out I was going I was estatic. The 25 amazing days in Ireland changed me as a person and my views on life all for the better. I met amazing people who I still keep in contact with and that I know will be life long friends. If I had the chance to go right this second, I would drop everything and be there in a heartbeat. Thank you Taryn, Angie, Dan, Pete, and Kendall for making this summer the best that I will ever have.
-Conor L., Richmond, VA-Student 2009
I just wanted to thank you, once again, for giving Cara a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Ireland and her ancestry in such a warm and wonderful program. It was comforting knowing that she was with such a fine group of chaperons and counselors. Cara is the youngest, and last, of the children in our extended family to participate in this program. I’m only sorry that we don’t have any more to send! She began as a child that was very unsure as to whether or not she wanted to go on a trip where she knew no one. She came home as a confident young lady who talks constantly about going back and is in almost daily contact with one or more of the friends she met on the ILE. The experience was priceless!
Best wishes for your continued success.
-Eileen F., Farmingdale, NY-Mother of Cara 2009
I think the best thing I took from the ILE was the knowledge of Irish history, culture, and everything! Irish history is great for history buffs, culture is great for everyone, and the delicious food is great for carbon-based organisms! Everyone wins! I definitely believe this was the thing that made my summer the best summer ever [so far?]. I believe that the friendships we made are invaluable. I will never forget all of our crazy, fun buddies and the times we had together.
-Jordan S., Las Vegas, NV-Student 2009
To all of the prospective Irish Life Experience students out there- my one word of advice is to take this trip. Not only do you build strong relationships with incredible peers and counselors from all of the country, but you also have the amazing opportunity to explore an entirely new culture. This experience provided me with great friends and a lifetime of laughs. I am so grateful to have gotten this opportunity! This summer was by far the best of my life!
-Mary M., Bethesda, MD-Student 2009
Dear Taryn & the ILE Staff:
When my daughter Sophia asked to go on the ILE, I was excited at the prospects of her having a wonderful time abroad. I did not realize that she would engage in a life changing experience. Irish Life Experience is indeed an experience, an incredible journey for any teenager. In just a short time period on the ILE, Sophia learned more than just Irish history and Gaelic, she learned the importance of true friendship. She also learned to become independent and self sufficient. She has come back home truly enriched by this incredible journey. I can not thank you Taryn and the rest of the ILE staff enough for providing an opportunity for Sophia to learn valuable lessons that she will hopefully carry for the rest of her life. I highly recommend the ILE to any parent considering allowing their teenager to embark on this incredible journey.
-Melissa W., Gaithersburg, MD-Mother of Sophia 2009
Our daughter Grace participated in the ILE this past summer under Taryn’s care and had the time of her life! Her experience with the program was everything we had hoped for her and more. Not only did she get to see the beautiful countryside of Ireland, but she got to learn about Irish culture and history while making lifelong friendships with students from all over the US. We chose this program for our daughter because of our trust and confidence in Taryn. Our two older sons had been on a similar program to Ireland under Taryn’s leadership and we knew that Grace would be assured a wonderful trip if Taryn was in charge. Grace raves about Taryn and the other instructors as well as the trip itself. Thank you for helping our daughter experience Ireland and its people to its’ fullest and for helping her gain confidence and independence that could only be achieved by time spent exploring away from home. Our youngest can’t wait until he can participate in a couple of years! Erin go bragh!
-Mark & Susan M., Louisville, KY-Parents of Grace 2009
I went into the Irish Life Experience expecting just a memorable time, what I had was an unforgettable one. Although I was initially leery of signing away an entire summer, now I wish I could do it again a thousand times. I learned, grew, and made some great friends, all while touring one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Thanks Taryn!
-Jamie G., Dallas, TX-Student 2009
Hi Taryn, just wanted to tell you that this past summer was Jamie’s MOST AMAZING EVER!! Thank you for organizing such a fabulous Irish experience. As parents we really appreciated all the gorgeous online photo updates – they let us have a real window into his daily doings. Now when he talks about all his new friends we can find them in the pictures! We can tell how much he benefited from all he learned and experienced. His Irish grandmother is thrilled with his grasp of Irish culture and his entertaining tales!
-Melissa G., Dallas, TX-Mother of Jamie 2009
Irish Life Experience has been one of the greatest highlights in the lives of both my two oldest daughters. Both have returned full of wonder about Irish history, geography, culture and lifestyle. They have formed deep and lasting bonds with both the staff and students with whom they shared these experiences. They have returned more mature, wiser, and more self assured; and they are more confident to take on the role of world citizens and travelers. We are already planning for my third daughter to attend in 2012!
-Cathy d. and Mark S., Aurora, OR-Parents of Lindsey 2007 and Kelsey 2009
The program that Taryn, Angie, and the rest of the crew led not only opened me up to Irish culture and history, but most importantly enhanced my own life through Irish literature and music. To think of the life-long friendships which were formed during those dream-like weeks when I was sixteen in Ireland, it’s truly unbelievable. It inspired me so much that I returned six years later as a counselor!
I went to Ireland with Angie and Taryn during the summer of 2007. It was by far the best summer of my life. We spent almost a month studying and traveling and living with each other. I met my best friend on that trip, one who I still fly out to see today. The country was beautiful and I enjoyed every minute I spent in Ireland.
It was truly the experience of a lifetime.
Thank you Irish Life Experience.
-Katie L., Columbus, OH-Student 2007
From the moment you land, you are greeted by those who you are about to share an unforgettable journey with. Taryn and Angie were really helpful in deciding what was fun and available during the free time to experience Ireland the true way in becoming part of the culture. Everyday is a new adventure and in every adventure you meet new people and make new friends, which you will have forever. I still fly out to see my best friends in Ohio and New Jersey and even drive a few hours to see the ones close to home.
-Michael B., Joliet, IL-Student 2007
I had a blast discovering Ireland! Taryn and Angie made the trip fun every step of the way…even the classroom parts! I made so many wonderful new friends from across the country too! There are so many terrific memories from exploring Dublin on our own, to kissing the Blarney Stone, to walking across the bridge at Giant’s Causeway…I hope to go back someday.
-Ryan P., Mendham, NJ-Student 2007
We were so pleased with every aspect of our son’s trip to Ireland. Taryn and Angie made the entire process easy to manage and were always available to handle any questions. Their attention to detail and concern for safety, as well as fun and education ,gave us complete confidence that our son was having a great and safe experience. The ongoing diaries and photos that were posted throughout the course of the trip, gave us an easy way to feel like we were part of the trip and a terrific sense of how things were going. After the wonderful experience we had, we plan on sending our daughter to Ireland with Taryn and Angie as we know she’ll have a great experience and be in safe hands!
-Kathy & Jonathan P., Mendham, NJ-Parents of Ryan 2007
I would like to thank Taryn Harrison for the best experience my daughter Andrea has had. She traveled to Ireland with Taryn and Angie for summer program. I was so impressed with the organization, safety, and communication of their program. They communicated daily through internet and posted pictures. As a parent I was worried letting my child travel abroad. Taryn was helpful prior to Andrea leaving with multiple calls and e-mails.If anyone has any questions about this program please feel free to call me. My number is 781-536-8077. My daughter made life long friends that she keeps in touch with and is hopeful to return to Ireland in the future.
-Kathleen C., Boston, MA-Mother of Andrea 2007
My trip to Ireland was an amazing experience that provided me with many memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. It opened my eyes not only to the richness of Irish culture, but also to the vastness of my own country. I became close friends with people from all over the US and Canada who I still keep in touch with. Though we were only together there for a month, we shared experiences that bound us together forever. What truly made my experience in Ireland a special one, however, were the trip leaders. When I arrived at the airport I was greeted by Taryn, who already knew the names of every group member and made us all feel so comfortable and welcome. Both Taryn and Angie did an amazing job of exposing us to different aspects of Irish culture and fostering within us a love of Ireland as great as their own. Read more…
-Laura T., Eastchester, NY-Student 2006
Living, studying, and touring Ireland for a month was simply incredible. I learned a lot about Irish history, culture, and even a little Irish dance! Taryn and Angie were both amazing teachers who inspired in me a deeper, more profound, appreciation of Ireland and its culture. Through my studies there, I grew to appreciate Irish music, and literature, something that would not have been possible if I had remained in the States. During my month in Ireland, I made dozens of friends with whom I speak and visit regularly. I can not think of a better way in which I could have spent my summer. I will never forget my tour of the Emerald Isle, nor the many friends I made. Thanks to all the hard work of Taryn and Angie, my summer spent in Ireland was simply extraordinary.
-Sam J., Baltimore, MD-Student 2007
I feel lucky and blessed to have experienced a comprehensive and amazing trip to Ireland at such a young age. Traveling around the magical country of Ireland was the most enlightening experience of my life and Taryn and Angie made it even more enriching. My experience in Ireland taught me to embrace my heritage and be proud of where I come from. I felt right at home in while there and by the time I did come home a month later I knew so much more about The Emerald Isle because Angie and Taryn made it a fun learning experience. I could not have had a better experience in Ireland with them and would go on the trip again in an instant. Read more…
-Meghan B., New Jersey-Student 2007
My 16th summer was the summer that changed my life. The summer that I fell in love. Not with a person, but with my Irish culture and my heritage through the program that the staff of the Irish Life Experience led, which I was lucky enough to share with some of the greatest people I have ever met. Through this summer study abroad program, I not only learned about the history of my culture, or about the literature, but also about the people and how they live… One of the things that made my time in Ireland so valuable, were the counselors and the teachers that made me eager to learn, as well as explore the quaint cities we were situated in. Taryn and Vinnie encouraged us to try new things and to learn as much as we could, while Angie thrust us into Irish culture with her sharp wit and lilting brogue that brought the stories of Ireland’s writers to life for us. Read more…
-Maureen M., NY-Student 2007
Stepping off the plane in Ireland, I was a little nervous. I was 3000 miles from home and was with 70 people I hardly knew. I had nothing to worry about, though. Taryn and Angie were so welcoming and friendly that I felt comfortable in no time. Over the course of the next month, I experienced things that I will never forget. Whether it was touring the streets of Dublin or visiting the Aran Islands for the day, I learned so much. I remember the end of the trip and how sad everyone was that we had to leave. All of the participants had a great time that year. It was an once-in-a-lifetime trip that I wish I could do all over again! Traveling to Ireland with Taryn and Angie was a remarkable experience. I still go through my pictures from the trip all the time!
-Brendan P., Washington D.C.-Student 2006
I can point to the summer of 2005 as one of the defining moments of my life. It was the summer that I saw Ireland, the summer I was introduced to a beautiful country and its people, the summer that grew me so much as a young adult. Going to Ireland with Taryn was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life! It was so exciting to learn more about Irish culture and history in class and paired with first-hand experiences through the various travels was the epitome of a perfect combination. I still keep in touch with the friends I made during my magical time in Ireland and we have flown to see each over the years! It was such a beautiful experience and inspired me to continue learning about other cultures and places!
-Kaitlin M., Chicago, IL-Student 2005
Sometimes a time, a place, an experience is so impacting that to think of anything before it seems impossible. I traveled to Ireland during the summer of my Junior year, and after that summer could honestly say that I’d grown up in Ireland – in so many ways I had! Looking back on that time, I realize it is possible to find family in new friends and feel at home when discovering a new place. Angie and Taryn fostered an all-encompassing experience, inspiring a love for both Ireland’s history and the contemporary culture. It is said that Ireland, once seen, stays with you forever – I will always remember how lucky I was to see and experience Ireland with Angie and Taryn.
-Aine K., Winchester, MA-Student 2002