We visited Mairead’s school today in Dunmanway, which is an all girls school. I did not realize this until we were in the classroom. This was one of the smaller schools that we have attended. They split the grades up into groups; for example Addie and I were with second/third class. Two of other girls were with third/fourth class. This was very interesting to observe. Teachers would be required to plan differentiated instruction for all lessons. An indoor planetarium was set up in the gymnasium and each class had the opportunity to go in and learn about space. The children loved it and they were able to see where certain planets would be in view within the next couple of weeks and how to locate different constellations. Once we were back in the classroom, the students practiced their tin whistle and learned a new song from the music teacher. This was so neat to see and the children were so talented. Another teacher then came in and worked with the second class with their reading. The substitute teacher, that was there for the day, worked with the third class on their math. The second class students practiced reading aloud with a partner. While I was observing, I noticed that any word that they came across that they needed help reading or didn’t know what it meant, they would write it down. I think that this is an excellent strategy for the students to use and it shows that they are forming skills of a great reader. Addie and I read the book, The Sandwich Swap, which is about two friends that turn on each other and begin bullying. It is a great book to teach friendship and kindness to the students. The girls then had a chance to ask us questions about America and ourselves. I really enjoyed this because their questions were all so different and it gave us a chance to talk to them all. It was really neat to be in an all girls school. This was my first experience in this type of school and I really liked it.
After our school visit, Mairead took us to lunch at a very cute cafe, and it was styled after the tv show Friends coffee shop. She was so nice and it was really great to get a chance to sit and chat with everyone. We them had a two hour break to relax, but a few of us spent out time shopping. (If you know me well, this would not surprise you.) Aisling’s family invited us all to come to their lovely home for a three course dinner. It was absolutely wonderful. Her brother, played music for us on their piano though out dinner. Her entire family is very talented and I was so excited to be able to spend some time with them all. After dinner, we sat around and listened to Aisling, her mother, and her brother play instruments and we all sang traditional Irish music. This was so much fun and we even knew some of the songs from our journeys around Ireland, over past two weeks. To end such a great day Aisling took us all out to experience Cork’s night life. We all had a great time and it allowed us all to let loose and enjoy ourselves. I think that we all really needed it. I feel that I have become so close with all of these girls throughout this trip and I am really happy about that.
After only a few hours of rest, we were off to tour the town of Cork. Our first stop was Cork City Gaol, we were able to tour one of the prisons from many years ago. We learned about prisoners who were in the jail, their living conditions, what they were fed, as well as their punishments. They have wax figures throughout the jail that replicate some of the real prisoners. They were a little creepy to look at, but we learned about what they were put in for and how long they were there. Most the of the prisoners that were in this jail were for small crimes and they were people just like you and me. Time was very tough during this part of history and people had to do whatever they could to survive. If a prisoner tried to escape, they had to place all of their clothes outside their cell and sleep in the nude, in freezing cold temperatures. Can you imagine? I was cold while we were touring and I had multiple layers of clothing on.
The next stop was the butter museum, this was a huge industry for Ireland. Kelly Gold was there brand of butter that was distributed to many countries around the world. We have been able to try this butter while we have been here and it is very good. I really learned a lot about the process of how butter is made and more history of the country of Ireland. Our tour guide was so cute, he really had a love for his job and that made this experience even better. We then stopped for lunch at “The Buttercup Cafe.” Aisling was our tour guide for the day. She made sure that she pointed out many different locations and points of interest in Cork, including the English Market. This was an area where you could purchase fresh meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and much more. The Queen of England stopped by there not that long ago. If she visited it, you know it has to be worth walking through. It was very nice to be able to spend the day with her in her element. We completed the day with more shopping, not that we have any room in our suitcases for what we have bought already. The style that the girls have here is just so neat and they have great stores to choose from. If only we had a Penny’s and an Oasis at home. We finally made our journey back to Courtbrack, who ever thought that we would be excited to come back. It almost felt like we were returning home, so I can’t imagine what it will be like once we all get to our own homes.
It has been a busy, amazing couple of days and I’m really sad that the end is coming near. I never would have thought that I would be taking as much from this trip as I am. I have learned so much, made great friendships, and have seen amazing cities. This trip has truly changed my view on life and education. I will never be able to thank Dr. O, Dr. B, and I can’t forget Steve for making this trip happen and making it as great as they have.