Over the February break, a group of Mount St. Mary Academy students traveled with faculty members and chaperones to Ireland for a trip that was equal parts fun and educational. The 10-day experience took them from Dublin through the southeast counties of Kerry and Clare. Along the way, the students got to see rural and urban parts of Ireland, historic sites and thriving towns.

“In Dublin, we immersed ourselves in the cultural and historic importance of the city,” teacher Ms. Rebecca Cefaratti said when they returned. They visited the Book of Kells at Trinity College, a park near Oscar Wilde’s apartment and the epicenter for the fight for Irish independence. The group also took time to learn more about the potato famine at the Strokestown House and Famine Museum.

Cork was next, for a stop to see the famous Blarney Castle.

“Many of us trudged up the slippery, winding steps of the castle in order to kiss the famous, Blarney stone, which is said to give the intrepid kisser the gift of eloquence,” Ms. Cefaratti said.

The group moved on to Killarney to experience the rugged wilderness of southwestern Ireland, travelling around the ring of Kerry and stopping to take in the views. They saw the “breathtaking” mountainsides, beautiful cliffs, and sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Students took a 7-mile hike through the Gap of Dunloe, took a boat ride on the lakes of Killarney to Ross Castle, then returned to town by horse and carriage.

They learned about Medieval and modern life in Ireland. The group visited the Kerry County Museum in Tralee, strolled through the town of Adare (voted on many websites to be among the prettiest towns in Ireland) and finished out the trip with a visit to Bunratty Castle, Folk Village and the “truly awe-inspiring” Cliffs of Moher.

“They were entranced, as I hoped they would be, by the sheer beauty of the Emerald Isle, while learning about the struggle and survival of the Irish people, from the brutal tactics of Oliver Cromwell, to the terrible consequences of the famine, and finally to independence in 1922,” their teacher said. “They were able to see with their own eyes the places that they have learned about in Global and to see a beautiful land so different from our own, to appreciate just how many wonders our world has to offer.”

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