Final Day :(

Yesterday was our final day in the beautiful country of Ireland. We got to sleep in for a few hours, and then we headed to Adare. Adare is a small village on the outskirts of Limerick. We walked around the village for a few hours. It was beautiful but most of the tourist attractions were closed for the winter :( we left Adare and headed back to Courtbrack to pack; however, the majority of us thought it was a great idea to take one last venture into the city of Limerick to do some last minute shopping at Penny’s. We the. Hurried home to get ready for our dinner at the Unicorn Pub. When we arrived for dinner, the pub had made a sign welcoming us and we had custom menus with the FSU logo on them. This was yet another reminder of how genuinely kind and thoughtful the people in Ireland are! Many of the previous graduate assistants attended the dinner including our current graduate assistant and next years! The food was so good, but the company was even better! It was so bittersweet to know that this would be the last time we would see our new found Irish family, and the last time all of my new Frostburg family would be together for dinner. Holly, our tour guide from Mary Immaculate, showed up to give us all Irish music CDs and a keychain from Mary I.!

We left Courtbrack this morning at 6, and John, the guy from the front desk who helped us so much, showed up to say goodbye! We boarded our plane and we are now at the airport in Newark, NJ. Our next flight takes off for Dulles at 2:30. I am excited to be home, but I am so sad that this amazing experience is coming to a close. I have learned SO much from this trip and am so excited to start my internship! I can not thank Dr.O, Dr.B and all of our Irish GA’S who made this trip so magical! This trip also would not have been so magical without all of the FSU girls who came along, this is an experience that only we will ever fully understand so we are forever bonded!

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Final School observation!

Today was our last visit to an Irish Elementary school, or as they call the National Schools. Today, we visited Scoil Nioclás Naofa in Dunmore. We arrived and were immediately treated to a variety of pastries and of course tea & coffee! We the went to the gymnasium because the children had put together a welcoming performance for us! These kids were so funk of talent, and so excited to show off what they had been working so hard on! They sang to us, they danced for us and they played their instruments for us! I just wanted to pack them all up in my suitcase and bring them home with me! They did amazing, and I felt right at home when I went to visit my first class classroom! We didn’t have much time, but we were able to read the book about FSU to them and answer their questions! They were super excited about Bobby the Bobcat, our mascot. They wanted to know allllllll about bobcats and the other wild animals we have!

After school, we went to Patrick’s house for lunch! Patrick is this years graduate assistant! Again, we were treated as royalty! They had a huge lunch for us as well as four desserts to chose from – it was so hard to make a decision! Then, Patrick took us on a tour of Galway City. We were able to see how beautiful this little town is! I absolutely love this area. Bring able to walk around to different shops on their little outdoor mall was so much fun. We were able to see the Spanish Arch. There used to be four of these that surrounded the city. We then had dinner in town before heading back to Limerick!

Tomorrow is our last day in Ireland, I can’t believe its time to go! I have had an amazing experience during these two weeks and I am ready to back my bags and come right back!

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Final Day in Cork!

Wednesday we started off our day by visiting the Cork Jail. This historical jail was home to many inmates during its day! We learned that back in the time of the jail, the inmates who were there had committed petty crimes, like theft, to survive. Many inmates had stolen, or we’re know for pick pocketing. The youngest inmate was nine years old. He had pick pocketed someone on the street and been caught. In the picture you will see below he was being whipped with a cat of nine tails whip. This happened twice a week as part of his two week sentence in the jail. The jail had an exercise circle out back where the inmates were to walk daily, two paces behind one another for a specified amount of time. If an inmate tried to escape, their punishment would be to put their clothes outside of their door just before they went to,bed so they had no way to created a rope to climb out of the window with. Their was also a work wheel where the “hard labour” was done. An inmate had to walk on top of this very large wheel to grind whatever needed to be at the time. The inmate could only do this for twenty minutes at a time because it was so dangerous. If an inmate would fall off the wheel, they would be swooped under the wheel and die.

We then visited the oldest sweet shop in Cork! It was so tiny inside only four people could comfortably fit inside at a time! Next, we went to the butter museum. We found out how important butter was to Ireland in the beginning of trade across the Atlantic. Although I have not tasted the so-called famous Kerry Gold Butter, it was interesting to hear its impact on Ireland. We then went to the Buttercup Cafe for lunch. Our lunch was very good, especially the cupcake i had for dessert! We then headed downtown to shop! We first visited to English Market. This was a huge indoor market. It was nothing I had ever seen before! Meats and vegetables just laid out over ice and the customers got to go in and select what they wanted. The Queen even stopped in the last time she visited Cork! Next, we went to our new favorite shop, Penny’s! I’m so sad we don’t have this fantastic store at home. Where will I ever find scarves for only €4!!!

After shopping, we headed back “home” to Limerick! It was so great to be back in my own room, with warm showers! It’s also nice to know that the friendly staff is downstairs at anytime we may need them!

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St.Mary’s Senior School!

Tuesday we went to visit St.Mary’s Senior School. This school was much different for others we had visited in that it was rural. The view from the bus on our way to this school was beautiful. I enjoyed seeing all the farms, and the quaint little town where the school sat. This school was also very different because it was an all girls school, with the exception of the special education classes. At St.Mary’s, Yasi and I were able to work with fifth class. We decided to read them Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. The girls were very interested in New York City so this book turned out to be a perfect fit. After reading the story, we asked the girls to sketch a design of a balloon they would like to see in the Macy’s parade next year. The drawings were fabulous! I could not believe how much artistic talent this class had. I then remembered that they actually have time to fully integrate art into every subject, so these girls have had tons of practice! This clearly has made such a difference in their artistic ability! The girls then wanted to ask us questions about America. They had so many great questions like “I Ireland we are taught both English and Irish, are your students taught two languages as well?” They were very surprised to hear that we actually only teach our students one language until they reach middle school age. After our question and answer session, the girls preformed short skits for us. This is yet another example of the art/drama integration in the Irish classroom. This was amazing! This helped the girls to practice using their conversational Irish terms in a real life scenario. This easily could be incorporated into American classrooms, but again we are often too focused on a test score to think about making learning meaningful and fun for our students.

Mairead, a former Graduate Assisdtant, works at St.Mary’s and treated us to lunch after we were done teaching our lessons. We had a delicious lunch at a cute cafe in the town square. After that, we boarded the bus and headed back to the hostel for a few hours of rest and relaxation. We then headed to Aisling’s house for dinner. This was such an amazing experience. We were treated like royalty! We had a fabulous three course meal while her brother played the piano for us while we ate! He is studying to be a concert pianist, so his music left us speechless. Following dinner, we all headed into the living room for more music! Their family is incredibly gifted when it comes to playing music! They wanted us to learn traditional Irish music, so we had a sing-a-long! Aisling played the fiddle, her younger brother played the accordion and her mom played the piano all while teaching us the lyrics of the songs! This was SO much fun! As if the hadn’t been gracious enough by opening their door and feeding 14 strangers, we left thrift house with a bag of chocolates and an Ireland pin for a keepsake!

2 Schools, 1 Day!

Today we were able to visit two elementary schools, Scoil Phádraig Naofa and Gaelscoil Mhainistir an Corann. Scoil Phádraig Naofa is a new school that will eventually have junior infants to sixth class. This is the school Sinéad teaches at. Right now, fourth class is the highest class that they have, but it will grow with the oldest class. We were able to teach our cowboy lesson to this class, and we created cowboy boots with them! They were super excited as well as appreciative. I was excited when at the end of the lesson the teacher was asking Yasi and I questions because she wanted to extend the lesson! This school taught in English with the exception of their Irish lesson each day. Their classroom layout was very similar to that of an American classroom. One thing I have noticed about each school we have visited is that their is a bathroom in each classroom. This is AMAZING! This allows the teacher to always have an eye on the students and eliminates the occasional bathroom drama/dilemma that comes up! Once again I noticed that this school only had blacktop for their playground. The teaching styles here were very similar to that of the other schools we had visited. The child was still their main focus and concern. They also were still very blunt withy their behavior management. I noticed similar behavior management techniques to those we use at home such as “one two eyes on me, one two eyes on you” and the clap sequences. The students had many questions to ask us, and were very excited to hear about America! As we left the school by bus, two sweet little girls stood outside and waved the Irish and American flags.

Our next school was Gaelscoil Mjainistir an Corann. This is the school last years graduate assistant, Aisling, works at. This school was quite different from all the other schools we had been to because it is a totally Irish speaking school. It was very interesting hearing all directions given in Irish and just hearing the Irish language in general. Again, Yasi and I were able to teach our cowboy lesson to first class. They loved our story, and also were very excited to share with us what they already knew about cowboys. This class was also able to make our cowboy boot craft. This classroom was laid out in a similar format. The main difference about the classrooms at this schools is that they are “portables.” They are units of buildings out together that are not permanent. The school is on the list to have a real school built for them within the next few years!as if it wasn’t exciting enough hearing the students speak in Irish, Aisling arranged for the choir to also sing to us in Irish. It was phenomenal! These kids are full of so much talent!

After leaving the school, we went to the Jameson Distillery . This was an incredibly interesting tour. We were able to see how Irish whiskey stands out from the rest. Irish whiskey is distilled three times, while Scottish whiskey is usually only distilled twice. We also learned that the barrel the whiskey ferments in has a lot to do with its taste. The U.S. has a policy that whiskey must ferment in a clean barrel, where as Ireland’s policy is that one barrel can be reused up to three different times. All of this effects the end result of how the whiskey tastes. Whiskey ferments for no less than four years. The longer it ferments, the higher the price!

We the went to the Titanic Experience. This was amazing! The port in Cóbh Town, Ireland was the last place passengers could board the Titanic. 123 passengers boarded the ship from this port! When we entered the exhibit, we were given a boarding pass with a name of someone who boarded the Titanic from Cóbh. After experiencing everything the passengers went through, and seeing the actual dock they walked across, we were able to see if our passenger survived or was tragically lost. Unfortunately, my passenger board the Titanic with her love and neither survived. This was an amazing experience! It was somewhat eerie knowing that these people actually boarded the Titanic from the dock we could see just feet from us!

Tomorrow we are going to another school, and then we are scheduled to have dinner at Aisling’s house!

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Cork!

Today we woke up to a large rain storm! This wasn’t the best way to start our day, considering we had a lot of touring to get done. Our final destination for today is Cork where we will be staying for three days! Our first stop of the morning was the Mitchelstown Caves. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we pulled in, because unlike most tourist spots there were really no signs, or places to shop! As we got our tickets and headed to the entrance of the caves I was a little worried about what we had signed ourselves up for. We headed down 200 feet into the caves. They were breathtaking! Our sweet tour guide told us that the family wanted to keep the cave very natural, so that is why there were no shops or huge advertisements. It was so interesting to see all the stalactites and stalagmites that had taken thousands of years to form. I loved our tour guide because of her passion for the caves. This is the same type of passion I hope others see I have for teaching. I hope to beam with excitement talking about teaching, just as this young lady did talking about the caves!

After leaving the caves, we were invited to lunch at Sinéad’s house. She was a former graduate assistant at FSU. Her and her mother welcomed us into their homes with open arms. They had prepared an amazing lunch for us which included lasagna, fresh bread, salad, warm apple pie with ice cream and cake! It was amazing! I truly enjoyed having a homemade meal! This also allowed for down time which was much needed. I was able to talk with others who I hadn’t really much time to talk to during our travels so far. We were able to share stories, and truly bond during this time! It was so much fun! Sinéad gave each of us a package of maps and chocolates to take with us, which was so very generous! I can’t believe how truly nice and sincere the people are Ireland. They continue to go out of their way to ensure that we are experiencing Ireland at it fullest, and making sure we are well taken care of!

We then continued on our journey to Cork by stopping at Blarney Castle! This was quite different from the other castles we have seen, but yet still incredibly beautiful I it’s own unique way. This castle has not been restored as King John’s castle that we toured the other day was. We made our way to the top of the castle to kiss the well know Blarney Stone, although I don’t think any of us needed its gift of gab! Even though I was incredibly scared of the leaning over the edge of the castle backwards, I still faced my fear and kissed the Blarney Stone! It was such an adrenalin rush!

We finally made it to Cork, where we are staying at Bru Hostel. Tomorrow we get to visit two different schools in Cork. After school, we are going to tour the Jameson Distillery and we also get to go to the Titanic Experience! I am super excited!

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Dublin!

Yesterday we were able to tour Dublin! We began our visit by stopping by the Guinness Storehouse. Here we were able to see how much work goes in to making the world famous beer! We were able to learn that Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the Storehouse! We were also able to learn what sets Guinness apart from all other beers, it’s fresh water supply!

After our tour of the Guinness Storehouse, we went to downtown Dublin! We went to lunch and then took a tour of Trinity College. Trinity is the oldest college inIreland, and usually ranks in the top ten colleges nationwide. The campus is stunning! We were able to tour the gorgeous library on campus that looks like it came from a Harry Potter scene! There are books from floor to ceiling! I just wanted to touch them and see what books were there, but it was forbidden :( The Book of Kells is also housed here. We were able to learn about, and view the book from inside a glass case. The Book of Kells is a manuscript of the four gospels written on vellum (calf skin). We learned that their were four different unique scribes. Two of them were very decorative and were given specific pages to decorate in the book, while the other two scribes were very simplistic.

We then began our walk downtown into the main portion of the city. We crossed the Ha’Penny Bridge. This bridge was named for the “half penny” toll that was once paid to cross. The bridge crosses over the River Liffey. It was a beautiful sight to see! We then went to O’Connell Street to do some shopping! We ended our day by eating dinner and heading back to Courtbrack! It was a great day, we could not have asked for more beautiful weather!

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Cliffs of Moher

I started off today by venturing back downtown to find St.Michael’s Cathedral. This is the church that my Great Great Grandparents were married on May 2,1877. My Great Grandmother was also baptized in this church on January 18,1881. It was amazing to be able to walk down the same aisle as my ancestors! Following this exciting adventure, we boarded the bus to travel to the Cliffs of Moher. Before arriving at the cliffs we stopped to see The Hinge. The Hinge has just flooded the week before we arrived and there was much damage done. This was the first time in 20 years this had happened, and a newly built playground suffered damage as well as many buildings! We the continued on our windy journey to the Cliffs of Moher! This was a gorgeous view! We then took a bus tour through the coastal edge of County Claire. It is breathtaking to see the coast! Today was the perfect day for this adventure. We had experienced so much rain, which would have made for a miserable time at the cliffs. They actually had closed them until a few days ago due to all the flooding. Luckily today the sky’s cleared off and it was incredible! Tomorrow we are headed to Dublin to tour & explore!

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Final Day at St.Conaire’s :(

Today was our last day at St.Conaire’s. I don’t think there was anyone from our group that likes the thoughts of leaving this amazing school. The staff as I have repeatedly stated is so welcoming, and they are all phenomenal teachers. Looking back on the past few days I have really been able to compare and contrast this school with those I see in America. Physically the school looks the same; however, they do not have a cafeteria or library. The seating arrangements are similar to those seen at home, but. Any times instead of individually desks, the students share a long table. This means that they have no storage space inside the desk, so their book-bags hang from the bag of the seat with their supplies. The size of the classroom is about the same size as a classroom in the states would be with the exception of the three new rooms in their stand alone building, they are a slight bit larger. In the primary levels like kindergarten and pre-k I noticed the absence of dramatic play stations like a kitchen which are very frequently placed in our classrooms in those grades at that age. The playground wish simply a piece of blacktop, unlike our extravagant playgrounds at home. It was again amazing to see how advanced the class we were in today was compared tot that of U.S. Students. We were in the “senior infant” classroom this morning which is equivalent to our Kindergardeners. The students were so anxious tot talk to us and we had a lot of fun. The teacher asks the students what they knew about their visitors when we entered the classroom many gave us facts about America, but one sweet little girls response was “they’re beautiful!” Again, lunch was provided and we were able to eat another delicious traditional Irish soup. Following that, we watched the school performance of Oliver which was amazing! The students are so talented and really go into their character parts!

While in the schools today, Dr.B surprised us by arranging for a detour of our way home to stop at Bunratty Castle. Due to the rain, we thought we would be unable to see this tourist spot! It was so amazing to see the inside of the castle! It had such beautiful and extravagant rooms! Although the furniture inside the castle was not the original, it was what you would have seen during the time of the castle. There were so many small, spiral staircases to venture through! I am not sure how the people of that time made their way up and down them so frequently because their were no rails at that time as there are today.

In the evening, we returned to Bunratty for a party that was hosted for us by the staff at St.Conaire’s. It was so good to talk to them on casual terms about the difference between not just our schools but our day to day routines. We found out interesting things like their policeman are unarmed. They had also arranged for an Irish band to play traditional Irish music for us which was incredible! It was a great evening, but I hate the thoughts of not returning to St.Conaire’s!

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Second Day at St.Conaire’s

Today was another awesome day at St.Conaire. I was again in first class but with a different teacher, Mrs.Barry. This class was so well behaved just as the first class was, and well above our first grade students would be at home. I enjoyed watching the math interventionist come in to do the station teaching. The activities they used were very useful, and easy for the kids to grasp. They used one activity with a hundreds chart where it was cut in to puzzle pieces. This allows for the children to manipulate the chart helping them to understand the placement of the numbers. Another skill the teacher used were beads. They had a large strand of beads and each group of ten was a different color. The teachers would mark off a group of beads and ask the students how many they had. It was easy for the students to visualize a group of ten this way. For lunch today, the staff provided us with a traditional Irish stew! It was so delicious and so sweet of them! My activity went well, and we were also able to help with an art activity at the end of the day.
While in the school, I continue to notice more and more differences between Irish schools and American. One difference I continue to notice is the lack of security. I am so used to having a badge, and every door being locked and it is not that way in Ireland. The doors are open when the students are dismissed, and parents are welcomed inside to find their student. I also noticed how their is no public transportation to school. Students either walk or are dropped off by their parents each and everyday. The discipline by far is what intrigues me the most. As we discussed this evening in one of our lectures, Irish teachers immediately stop the problems with no questions asked. American teachers tend to state what the student is doing wrong before stopping the problem. I prefer the Irish form of discipline.
I am super excited for tomorrow! The students are putting on their school production of Oliver. I also get to observe the Senior Infants for the first time in the morning. Tomorrow evening the staff of St.Conaire is hosting a party for us, as well!

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