By Katie Scholz, The Berkshire Center
Ah, the Emerald Isle, what a trip it was! Although, I must admit, things didn’t start on such a rosy note. We arrived in Dublin at 5:30 a.m. cramped and exhausted only to learn that it would be an hour and a half before our coach arrived to transport us to our hotel.
That’s not so bad, right? Sure it’s not provided your rooms are ready when you arrive at your hotel, which ours weren’t. Thank goodness for Frank, tour guide extraordinaire, who rearranged our itinerary so that we would start our day by taking in the city of Dublin before returning to the waiting arms of our hotel.
I must admit that Dublin was a bit of a surprise, more reminiscent of a historical New York City than the quaint locale I was expecting. It’s a beautiful city that oozes charm and unexpected views; A swan quietly floating down the river past an enormous tour bus, a beautiful centuries-old bridge standing in stark contrast against a new modernistic one. After our tour we caught a few hours sleep before heading out to the Merry Ploughboy Pub for dinner and a show. What a way to end our first day! The food was great and the performers were wildly entertaining. The day got off to a rocky start but ended as a complete success.
The next few days were a whirlwind of activity, beginning with a visit to the infamous Blarney Castle. It’s quite an amazing sight, especially the views from the top (which almost everyone hiked to). One by one we all took our upside-down turns kissing the Blarney Stone, giving our students an even bigger gift of gab, before heading back down to earth to spend some time perusing the on-site shopping opportunities, including the Blarney Woolen Mills.
Next stop on the tour? A 100 mile journey around the breathtaking Ring of Kerry while en-route to the Skellig experience. Alas, while they may sound similar, don’t confuse Skellig with the ever-popular water sport. This part of our trip took us through an interactive educational experience that detailed what day-to-day life had been like for the ancient monks who once inhabited the region. Our next adventure took us from land to sea, setting sail across the river Shannon to visit the Cliffs of Moher. The wind was excruciating that day but it couldn’t keep our students from climbing, exploring, and simply staring out at the vast expanse of water and sky stretching for miles around them.
And what trip to Ireland could be truly complete without celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day? The correct answer to that question is none. Our celebration began with a medieval feast at Bunratty Castle (none of us will ever view flat wear the same way again) and ended at a pub called Durty Nelly’s (it was neither dirty nor was there a Nelly in sight). For me, the best part of this night was watching our students have fun and socialize without effort or a care in the world. To see these young people in a more personal manner was most rewarding.
Our stay in Ireland ended with a visit to the Irish National Stud farm, where some of the finest racehorses are bred, before leaving us free to explore Dublin one last time before our flight home. That last day was a blur, with last minute shopping and crisises to figure out but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I must admit that I had been a bit apprehensive about this trip but I needn’t have worried. The students were a hoot to spend a week with and behaved in a way that made me proud to say I was responsible for them. If I was asked to do it all over again tomorrow I’d have just two questions, “Where to this time, and what time is the flight?”
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