On Friday, we took tours of Cahir Castle and Kilkenny Castle. They were equally impressive in terms of the historical significance, but they couldn’t have looked more different. The tour of Cahir Castle was a little more laid back and we were lucky to have an entertaining tour guide who kept the mood light. Cahir Castle is one of the largest castles in Ireland and sits on an island in the River Suir. It was built in 1142 by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond. It was used as a strong hold for the Butler family and managed to survive quite a few attacks, but it was eventually taken over by Cromwell in 1650. The students were very interested about this castle and the fact it had the original walls from the 13th Century right across from the walls that had been recently restored. Emily H. (AKA Herrm) said she felt like she was in the movie Braveheart racing up and down the swivel stairs of the main tower. Ellie said she loved exploring Cahir Castle on her own and felt like she had stepped back in time.
Kilkenny Castle was much more aesthetically pleasing. It was built in the 13th Century by William Marshall and bought by James Butler in 1391. The castle was renovated in 1826 to adapt the interior of the country-style house. The Butler family lived in the castle until 1935 when the family fortune declined, so they auctioned a lot of the castle’s contents. In 1969 the government bought the castle for £50 and continued to restore it. Jaids thought the gardens were gorgeous and Taryn (AKA Sneedster) really liked the art gallery in the long hall. After the tours we had a couple hours of free time to run around the city, visit a café, or just be lazy on the sprawling lawn of the castle itself.
During the students free time in Kilkenny, Dan, Miles, Scones, and Taryn went to Paddy Power and placed a €5 bet on a horse called Green Lightening. Reilly (AKA Mack) decided to get in on the betting with €3 on the same horse and we ALL won and doubled our money. Happy days. A round of Crunchies on us.
When we returned to campus, the students had dinner and then many participated in an optional workshop-learning how to make St. Brigid’s Crosses. They first learned about St. Brigid and the very popular symbol of Ireland associated with the saint. Taryn then taught them how to make the crosses-breaking them in with pipe cleaners first, before they moved on to reeds. Many of them picked it up very quickly and Chris made some incredible crosses. His were very impressive. A few said they will be bringing them home to hang up in their kitchens to help prevent evil spirits from entering their houses and protecting them from fire-as the superstition goes.
To end the evening, all of the students participated in a Minute-to-Win-It challenge. They were split up into teams and rotated through six stations-each member of the team taking a minute to try and complete the task. The stations were: 1) Blowing the Joker-The students had to blow a deck of cards off a bottle and leave the last card-Joker-on the top. 2) Tee’ing Off-The students had to stack three golf balls on top of each other. Almost impossible, but it has been done. Evan McCullough from ILE 2011 has been the only student thus far to complete it!!! 3) Face the Cookie-Students had to get a cookie from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands. This was absolutely hilarious to watch and Evan and Mack stole the show for the most entertaining. 4) Noodling Around-Students had to pick up six pieces of penne pasta on a table with one piece of spaghetti in their mouth. 5) Separation Anxiety-Students had to separate fifty M&M’s by color with one hand. 6) Chap-Sticks-Students had to stack three chapstick tubes on top of each other with only chopsticks.
Students had a blast and it was the team of Carl, Clara, Ellie, Erica, James, Mel, and Sarah A. (AKA Hank) that were the shining stars for the evening-pulling off a win with 22 points! They all received a Cork flag for their efforts and precision of tasks in less than a minute. Job well done!
The students are all getting along swimmingly and they’ve really been getting comfortable with each other, so we’ve seen a lot more of their personalities. They’re all very well mannered and great kids, so it’s been truly enjoyable for us. We really have the best job ever!