Irish DancingDay #1 was pretty successful with our only non-show at breakfast being a certain boy named Dylan. The ILE Staff were well impressed. This unusual success first thing in the morning gave us high hopes for the classroom-expecting everybody to be bright eyed and bushy tailed. The jet lag conveniently reared its head though just as class was starting!

Angie took the very first class of the morning and went a little into the history of ancient Irish literature, explaining that without a written language all literature was passed down through generations orally. Carrick (Or Rocky as we have nicknamed him.) mentioned how fascinated he was by this, he was shocked that the stories were able to remain the same especially after he started a game of Chinese Whispers on the bus and realized how difficult it is to keep the accuracy of a story being passed from person to person.

Next up was Brigid who is going to be teaching Irish American history for the next two weeks. Brigid gave the students an introduction to what was going to be covered during the course and then put the students to work. Each student had to think about who Irish Americans are and what they would define as an Irish American. It was agreed that Irish Americans must be born in the States and must have some Irish ancestry. Katie mentioned her favorite actor Mark Wahlberg-adding that all Irish Americans must be gorgeous if he’s anything to go by!

It was time for the students’ break, so they all went outside as it was surprisingly sunny for Ireland just before they came back for Angie to do some more Irish literature. Angie began to discuss James Joyce and explained how eccentric a character he was. Rocky mentioned he knew much about James Joyce before this trip but not about his eccentricity, which he loved hearing about.

Taryn took over from Angie with her Irish Studies class. The geography and geology of Ireland were the topics of the day. Molly came out of the class and her exact words were, “that was FANTAB.” She surprised herself at how much attention she was paying in class, saying it was unusual for her!

We decided to ease the students into their classes to let them skip the last class with Scones and instead there was an orientation session held to make sure the students were some way clued in as to what was to lay ahead for the next month in Ireland, their timetable for each day, bed times, food times, when they would have super early mornings, and when they might finally get a chance to have a lie in. There was a doubt in anybodies mind that even on those lie in mornings Aaron might still struggle to make the bus on time. When everyone’s questions had been answered and we were satisfied the students knew what was happening they were sent to get some food before their Walking Tour of Waterford with an ex-student and current Counselor, Kate.

Kate showed the students practical points of interest in Waterford such as the ATM, the bank, the phone shop and of course most important, the clothes shops. She did manage to get some historical and cultural points of interest in to the tour. Waterford is actually Ireland’s oldest city and is well known for its Viking history. Kate pointed out Reginald’s Tower in the city center, which is a defensive structure built by the Vikings-Emily said how cool the tower was. She mentioned it was unlike any architecture of historical buildings she was used to back in Jersey. Even though the walls that used to border the city were mainly knocked down by attackers in the past, there were still enough chunks of wall left to give the students a good idea of the size of the original city and just how well organized and advanced Irish builders were back in the 1st Century.

Kate finished up her tour and the students were all allowed some free time to explore Waterford themselves before dinner. Ana and Caitlin managed to get some lovely Irish boys to buy them ice-cream from Reg and Jerry’s, the Irish Ben & Jerry’s. Ana said she was in love-ice-cream is always the way to a girls heart.

After dinner the students had their first drama and dance workshops. There was no messing around when it came to drama. The students were put into their groups immediately and each given an historical Irish figure to write a Limerick on. The four counselors spoke about the rhythm and structure of a Limerick and the students got straight into it. Dylan said that even though he knew how to create a Limerick already it was interesting to get the chance to write one on an Irish historical figure. Sarah also knew how to create a Limerick already, but decided she’d give her team the chance to perfect their literature skills as she had every faith in them!

They weren’t given much time to perfect their Limericks, only brainstorm as it was time for Casey to teach her first Irish Dance Class. Casey is a bit of an expert as she runs her own Irish dancing school in Maryland, so the students were in capable hands. Casey started with the basics, the 1,2,3’s which most students picked up without any trouble. ILE ’14 just so happens to have some pretty talented dancers in the group already, so Casey had a bit of help in demonstrating the first dance, the Walls of Limerick (A pretty well known dance in Ireland and a common one at all Ceili’s and weddings in Ireland.). Aubrie said she hadn’t danced in about four years and she was delighted to get a refresher course with a professional dancer.

Everything was running smoothly until the students were required to strategically spin around each other-and let’s just say they may not have ended up in their original positions. There were no injuries that were serious enough to be reported to the blog.

Jess also used to dance to a very high standard back in the US and she got the chance to do a solo performance for the other students who were seriously impressed. Jess mentioned it really made her miss dancing-she forgot how much she used to enjoy it.

The students were absolutely wrecked after such a full day, so it was agreed they would watch half of the Michael Collins movie and it would be finished another night. Katie may have initially thought she was about to watch a film on Phil Collins, but nonetheless was very impressed when she learned who Michael Collins was, one of the main Irish leaders during both the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. The students crashed as soon as their heads hit the pillows and everyone had said Oiche Mhaith (Good Night!).