On Friday the 14th of October our 3rd years and their teachers set off bright and early at 6am from the school all the way to the gaeltacht, Coláiste UISCE in county Mayo, where they spent 3 days and 2 nights surrounded by the wonderful language that is Gaeilge. After a tedious 6 hour journey they arrived in Belmullet and were greeted by the staff and a lunch of sausages and chips before they headed off for their first activity in 4 different groups- dearg, gorm, glas agus buí. As the name suggest, Coláiste UISCE is all about water sports (uisce=water), and so the students spent much time participating in a wide variety of water sports, including:
- Kayaking: each group of students participated on kayaking once over the course of the 3 days. They got changed into their wetsuits and gear before playing a warm-up game of UISCE's own version of the much loved game of "stuck in the mud". They then received their paddles and kayaks as they teamed up into pairs and were given a rundown on how to row and work together to move their boats. They then headed out on the water, accompanied by na teagascóirí (instructors).
- Surfing/Bodyboarding: This activity was a great hit with both the students and their teachers alike! Once the students acquired their wet gear they piled into the Coláiste UISCE bus and headed over to the opposite side of the peninsula, to the beach, where they surfed in the Atlantic Ocean. They were each given a clár (board) and a fun demonstration and lesson on how to surf by na teagascóirí once more before they dived right in. Many failed attempts were made, though a few students managed to catch a wave and stand up on their board!
- Raft Building: Students were split into even smaller groups for this activity, of about 6 people per group, and were given the challenge to make a raft using wood, rope and pipes with the knots they were taught how to do at the beginning. Once their raft was made they named them and took them out on the water where they raced and took them apart to be the first team done. They got points for their teamwork, amount of Gaeilge spoken etc, as the activity was made into a friendly competition.
- Paddle Boarding: Students were then given the opportunity to go paddle boarding together in groups of about 6-8 on each paddleboard. This activity was also a huge hit with the students as they got pulled on the boards by the engine boats that the instructors drove, getting thrown into the water and having a ball. We're not sure if much paddling was done... but we are sure that a lot of fun was had judging by the excited shrieks of laughter that teachers and TY photographers could hear from the sidelines!
- Pier Jumping: The final water activity that our students took part in was pier jumping. Pier
jumping took place on Sunday, their last day there and was a great way to end an absolutely amazing weekend. Once students had their wetsuits on and ready to go they drove to the local Quay, only 5 minutes away where the instructors made sure they were comfortable jumping in before letting them have free reign. Joe, one of the instructors, gave them challenges to do different poses in mid air and the daltaí enjoyed making up their own ones too!
There was then a wide range of land activities, including archery, basketball, rock climbing, games in the bialann, 4 in a row, orienteering and human foosball!
Of course, a trip to the gaeltacht wouldn't be a trip to the gaeltacht without at least one Céilí! Friday night a céilí was held in the bialann and the theme of "Hawaiian" even had na múinteoirí getting involved and getting their faces painted!
Saturday nights céilí then had the theme of "Twins", encouraging the students to match outfits with a friend!
After a long night Saturday, with a céilí and a disco, Mr. O’Donnchadha invited the 3rd Years to get changed into their pyjamas and come back downstairs for a sing-song on the guitar to unwind before settling down for the night. Just what they needed! Songs that were sung included classics, such as "Riptide" "Sweet Caroline" and "Wonderwall". Some very talented students also stepped up and played along with their year head!
The next morning our 3rd Years woke up bright and early at 8am where they got breakfast and headed back upstairs to clean their rooms, accompanied by some good old Irish tunes, including "An Dreoilín" (more dancing than cleaning was done!).
They did the last of their activities before having one last meal and gathering their bags together outside, ready to embark on the long journey home. We thank Coláiste UISCE for accommodating us and all their staff for being so amazing and lovely to our students!
Here is a slideshow of all the pictures from all the activities, both water and land!