Wednesday 25th November
Today we left the hotel at 10 o clock.Â We headed for the Dáil where we met our local TD Patrick O' Donovan. We were fortunate enough to observe a sitting of both the Dáil and the Seanad. Following this a guide brought us on a fantastic tour of our government building, explaining the history associated with the it. He also showed us the flag that John F. Kennedy presented to the Irish nation during his visit over fifty years ago. Upon the completion of our visit we saw the Proclamation of Ireland which was read aloud by Padraig Pearse on the steps of the GPO.
After the Dáil we had lunch in Stephens Green while admiring the bustling city around us. We then made our way through Grafton street and Temple bar towards Dublin Castle. Here we were provided with a very informative tour of our capital's oldest standing castle. We were brought through the various parts of the castle where we saw an example of an archaeologist's excavation site, a gothic style church and the Georgian quarter of the castle. The tour guide explained to us the huge significance of Dublin castle in Irish history, from its origin with the Vikings straight through to the inception of the Irish Free State in the early twentieth century. We then had an opportunity to take a group photo in the magnificent ball room. This is where all presidents of Ireland have been inaugurated, and also where heads of states such as Queen Elizabeth have been entertained.
We completed our visit to our nation's capital with a few hours of free time to shop before making our way back to Limerick.
Day 10 of Ireland – 23/11/15
Today we started our journey to DublinÂ atÂ 6:30 am. We arrived in Dublin at roughlyÂ 11:00 amÂ and then started our tour of the Guinness storehouse. Here we learned how Guinness was established and about the production process of our signature drink. We then saw the 360 degree view of Dublin from the top of the storehouse which was spectacular.
After this, we had an hour of free time around Dublin before meeting the teachers for our walking tour of our nation’s capital. Amongst the many interesting sights on our tour we saw the Millennium Spire, the statue of Charles Stewart Parnell, the Rotunda Hospital, the Garden of Remembrance, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Customs House and the Famine memorial along the docks.
After this we had a further two hours of free time where we shopped on Grafton Street. We then met at Captain Americans for a delicious meal and then made our way to the hotel to catch some sleep after a busy day.
Day 11 - 24/11/2015
Today we started our journey bright and early atÂ 7am. After a filling breakfast we departed the hotel for Belfast. We arrived midmorning in the Titanic quarters along the Docks in Belfast. Our visit to the city began with a tour of the newly opened Titanic Exhibition.Â During our tour we learned how the Titanic was built, heard accounts from people who survived, and experienced what it was like to work on the Titanic. We also saw a 3D movie of the underground wreckage of the famous ship. All in all it was an incredibly interesting tour with several interactive exhibits.
Following our tour of the Titanic, we had our lunch together overlooking the docks. Afterwards, we hopped on the bus to commence our bus tour of Belfast city. Billy, our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and provided us with a great insight into the history and development of the city through the last few decades. We saw many places such as Belfast City Hall, the Linen Library, Donegall Square, the Leaning Albert Memorial Clock, the Catholic Falls road and Protestant Shankill area and finally the studios where Games of Thrones are filmed. During our tour we stopped at the peace wall where we all had the opportunity to sign our names.
Finally we were on the road back to the South after a busy day in Belfast. We stopped off in Dundalk for a meal and then continued on our journey back to the hotel in Dublin.
Friday 20th November
Â Today we travelled west Â to county Galway. We arrived at mid-day and spent a few hours in the city. Many of us walked around Shop Street and some visited the green-domed, renaissance-style cathedral, named Galway Cathedral.Â After lunch we went into the Gaeltacht region in Galway and proceeded to the Craft Village in Spiddal. Here people bought handmade souvenirs in the quaint little shops of the town. Many people also practised their 'Gaeilge' with the residents of the village. We were fortunate enough to observe a local potter create a cup on a “potter’s wheel”.
Afterwards we drove to the docks and began to prepare for the crossing to the Aran Islands. We sadly bid Tom a farewell and piled onto the boat. Unfortunately because of the bad weather we were having the previous days the journey was quite bumpy. We then drove to our hostel and ate a very tasty chicken pasta cooked by Nora. Once all plates were spotless we made hot chocolate and watched a movie before going to sleep.
Saturday 21st November
Â On SaturdayÂ we woke up on the Aran Islands ready for our busy day. First we had breakfast together and then packed our bags. We then took a bus tour around the island where the bus driver gave us a wonderful insight to island life. We walked along the cliffs andÂ saw a beautiful view from Dun Aengus. We also saw an ancient ring fort and graveyard on the tour which was very interesting.
Later that day we went into a cafe to get soup and tea and then went back to the ferry to head home. Everyone was exhausted on the way back to Limerick.Â All in all it was a great experience.