Monday July 29th
The day of our departure from our host families in Carrigaline has arrived. It’s a beautiful day – lots of sunshine and warm weather during the whole day. We said Good bye and Thank you to our host families and hopped on Michael’s coach, which would take us to Dublin. We met our tour guide John in Dublin’s city centre, from where we started our sightseeing tour on board our coach. We made our way through the busy streets of Dublin – past the National Library, the National History Museum, Merrion Square, St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College, O’Connell Bridge, the Spire and many more sights. We stopped at Phoenix Park to stretch our legs and admire the sheer vastness of Dublin’s green lung (one of Europe’s largest enclosed urban parks). All along the way John pointed out interesting places and told us the stories behind them, providing a good overview of Dublin’s past and present. After the tour we were dropped off at The Four Courts Hostel where we left our bags and went off again to enjoy the one thing everybody had been waiting for – free time to explore Dublin on their own. We had a luxurious four hours to roam the busy shopping streets, watch the buskers on Grafton Street or simply sit down to a cup of coffee. In the evening we went to a pub to enjoy some Irish pub grub and spend the last evening chilling out and enjoying Irish hospitality and cheeriness.
Sunday July 28th
Sunday, glorious Sunday! Today was host family day, which meant that everybody spent some time in the company of their host family – some went to the beach, some accompanied their host families to visit relatives in county Wexford, some went to see the pride parade in Cork, some played footgolf, etc. Today was the perfect day to recharge the batteries before getting ready for the last full day in Ireland and the final highlight… Dublin!
Saturday July 27th
We have arrived at day ten of our 2-week adventure in Ireland – time has flown, it is incredible! However, there was no time to be sad as another action-packed day lay ahead: After a deliberately late-ish start into this beautifully sunny and mild Saturday morning, we made our way to Oysterhaven Activity Centre, where our instructors Dan and Connor gave us a short briefing before we changed into wetsuits, which we would be wearing for the entire activity. At first, we were split into two groups and each group started with an activity on the water (there would be a swap at half-time): One group went out on the big blue raft and paddled out to the pontoon and the so-called “Moonwalk”, a giant inflated green “sausage” floating on the water. The task was easier said than done: we had to walk or run to the very end of the very slippery Moonwalk and then jump in the water or do a flip (most of the time, however, we tumbled into the water in a more or less elegant way or battled each other for the longest belly-slide along the “sausage” 😉 The second group went kayaking in triple kayaks and played some fun games that combined English language and physical skills (such as “Give the correct answer or jump in the water!”).
When everybody had tried out rafting and kayaking, we headed back to the shore and straight out to the forest and swamps to set out on the “jungle quest” – a cross-country obstacle course on which we had to face various team challenges, walk over wobbly suspension bridges, do the perfect Tarzan swing (including Tarzan calls), tackle the “Rapid Rafts” and make our way across the water balancing on ropes (“The Wibbly Wobbly Wope Bwidge”). The weather was simply fantastic – sunshine, a few clouds and a bit of wind. Everybody had great fun and both teams managed to successfully overcome all obstacles. We spent our lunch break at the centre before going back home on the bus (with a detour to the beach at Robert’s Cove). After this exciting morning, the students got the rest of the afternoon off to meet their friends and unwind after a busy week of English lessons and afternoon activities.
Friday July 26th
A sunny morning had dawned in County Cork, when we realised that the last day at the H2 College in Minane Bridge had arrived – our eight days at school have passed so quickly! The morning was spent in the English language classroom where the students rounded off the week with games and group activities before they were awarded their certificates for the successful completion of the language course. During this “ceremony”, the two “students of the week” (i.e. the students who had invested the most effort to improve their English and who’d made a lot of progress due to their motivated attitude) were announced and they received their prizes.
The next activity provided the students with an insight into Irish culture – Ceili Dance. Everybody gathered in the centre’s theatre and Irish dance professional Fionan introduced the students to Ceili Irish Dance. Even though it was a group of beginners, Fionan was able to teach them a lot about this typical Irish dance and at the end of the fast-paced lesson an entire dance routine was performed – learning by doing doesn’t get any better than this!
After this foray into Irish culture, we got ready for our pizza party, which took place right outside the school building. The students made their own pizzas – they rolled the home-made dough and put tomato sauce and toppings on it. The pizzas were then baked in a stone pizza oven, which was why they tasted so utterly delicious! 🙂 When everybody was full and satisfied (i.e. after almost 7 kg of dough had been devoured!), we tidied up and returned to Carrigaline.
However, the day was not over yet! At 7pm we departed Carrigaline and made our way to Cobh (formerly known as Queenstown, which was the last port of call for the famous RMS Titanic before she embarked on her ill-fated voyage across the Atlantic Ocean…). We were booked in for an escape game – three teams were locked into three differently themed rooms and had to cooperatively find clues and solve riddles in order to reach a common goal (e.g. break out of the prison on nearby Spike Island, rob a bank or solve a mystery à la Sherlock Holmes). All the groups succeeded in reaching the goal within the time limit of 60 minutes and everybody had great fun doing it.
Thursday July 25th
This morning we woke up to the sound of the rain lashing against the window panes – Carrigaline was taking its morning shower (aka a large dose of liquid sunshine). Well, there’s a reason why Ireland’s vegetation is so lush 😉 The students spent the morning in the English language classroom – they learned new idioms and proverbs and engaged in team games to improve their communicative skills.
After the fourth and last lesson, we jumped straight on our bus, which took us to Cork City, where we watched a film in the cinema – a great way to practise listening skills in an entertaining way! After that we were free to roam the streets of Cork at our own pace – engaging in a bit of retail therapy, having a coffee or milkshake in a café or enjoying a chat with friends – before returning to Carrigaline.You can edit text on your website by double clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box a settings menu will appear. your website by double clicking on a text box on your website. Alternatively, when you select a text box
Wednesday July 24th
We have arrived at day seven of our two-week language and sports course in Ireland, which means that, unfortunately, half of our time on the Emerald Isle has already passed – how time flies when you’re having fun! We are indeed thoroughly enjoying every minute of these two weeks and today was another Best of H2 Summer Camp Ireland!
It was a dry and mild day, with temperatures around 20°C – just perfect for what we were up to! The group started the day in Minane Bridge at the H2 School with a fun-packed morning of English lessons with their teachers Lucy and Brian (who has taken over from Jackie). The activities ranged from discussing future missions to Mars to guessing games and group experiments and kept the students busy improving their English skills right up to the lunch break.Our afternoon programme led us to the coast and up to the cliffs at the Old Head of Kinsale where the students marvelled at the beautiful vistas and took their time posing for the best (albeit windswept) photographs. The next item on our agenda can definitely be described as one of the highlights of the entire two weeks: Surfing at Garrettstown Beach. The surf was just perfect for beginners and the students couldn’t wait to ride the waves! After a fun warm-up game of “Infinity Tag”, we were split into three groups. Our three instructors from Kinsale Surf introduced us to the basics of surfing while still on the sandy beach – including the rules for safe surfing – and we practised the correct movements on land first. Then everybody went in the water trying to catch the perfect wave. Lots of us managed to do the pop-up, which is the action of standing up on the board while riding the wave. Some managed to surf most of the way to the shore, but regardless of individual achievements and the “perfect” distance or posture – it was great fun for all of us! We rounded off the surf lesson with some stretching exercises for the entire body and a quick bath in the sea (without the wetsuits – refreshing! 😉 Tired but happy, we returned to Carrigaline on the bus and spent the evening having a nice dinner at our host families and meeting friends for a chat afterwards.
Tuesday July 23rd
We woke up to find another dry but cloudy day ahead of us (it brightened up a bit in the afternoon) before going off to school on the bus. The students started off today’s English lessons with a team challenge of “Marshmallow Architecture”: in small groups they had to build a tall structure on top of which they had to balance a marshmallow. The material they had at their disposal consisted of sheets of paper, package tape, dried spaghetti etc. The highlight of this morning was Jackie and Lucy’s Pub Quiz, which included general knowledge and true/false questions, for example, and even an outdoor part with a hurling activity.
In the afternoon we stayed at the school and engaged in various group activities, such as playing an energetic game outside (“Toaster!”, “Shower!”, “Witch!” etc. 🙂 and participating in a group discussion and following presentation of parts of our questionnaire on Irish family life, sports & culture. In addition, we played the “Biscuit Game”, which ties in with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (aka Global Goals or Agenda 2030), and which made the students experience first-hand how unfairly resources and wealth are distributed in the world. We had a very constructive discussion afterwards, which showed how relevant these issues and challenges are for all of us. We then returned to Carrigaline to have a nice, restful evening – well earned after such a busy day at school.
Monday July 22nd
We have arrived at day five of our sports and language week here in Ireland and it was another exciting day: The students spent the morning in the English language classroom having lively discussions, playing games and talking about all kinds of topics related to Ireland (famous Irish people, Irish traditions & holidays, Irish sports, etc.). They finished their team projects and presented the work to their fellow students.
After a short lunch break we went on a short walk through the village over to the Tracton GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) sports pitch, where our coaches Paul and Mark (members of the GAA) introduced us to Gaelic sports: We started with a lap around the pitch and some exercises and stretches to warm up our muscles before turning our attention to hurleys (wooden sticks), sliotars (small leather balls) and Gaelic footballs (they’re like a mix of a football and a volleyball). The students had a lot of fun playing hurling and Gaelic football and some showed great skill. When everybody was tired out but happy, we were picked up by the school bus and taken back home to Carrigaline where we spent the evening having dinner with our host families and relaxing with friends.
Sunday July 21st
This Sunday morning was very relaxed – it was everybody’s morning off, so the students spent it having a lie-in and enjoying a leisurely breakfast (ranging from a full Irish breakfast with sausages and mushrooms to a pancake breakfast). At one o’clock, our bus picked us up in Carrigaline and took us to our afternoon destination: Blarney Castle. We first made our way up the hundred steps to the top of the castle’s tower, where the famous Blarney Stone (which is part of the castle’s battlements) was waiting for us. According to legend, one has to lean over backwards on the parapet’s edge and kiss the stone and will then be given the “gift of the gab” (i.e. the gift of eloquent speech). Considering that we’re on a language holiday, this not only added to the experience, but ensured that the students’ English language skills would improve even more 😉 After having kissed the Blarney Stone, we descended the steep spiral staircase and started our tour of the beautiful and very extensive castle grounds. Our walk led us through the Poison Garden, past the majestic Thuja plicata tree with its double trunk (a picture-perfect tree) and into the Fern Garden, which, in fact, looks a lot more like it’s located on some tropical island than in Ireland. We passed Blarney House and continued on our way to Rock Close, where druids are said to have worked their magic, and finally arrived at the bottom of the Wishing Steps. Legend has it that one’s wishes will come true after climbing the steps backwards with eyes closed. After this afternoon’s magical trip to Blarney had come to an end, we returned to our host families in Carrigaline to enjoy a delicious dinner and a relaxing evening at home.
Saturday July 20th
It is day three of our Irish adventure and we woke up to a glorious morning – sunshine and a few clouds with temperatures around 16°C. The students were busy improving their English skills in the morning and were rewarded for their hard work in the language classroom with a trip to Kinsale in the afternoon. The afternoon would also reward us with the finest Irish weather – warm and sunny – just perfect for a day by the sea!
Before going into the seaside town of Kinsale, we met the world’s best tour guide Barry Moloney at the nearby Charles Fort – a star-shaped fortress located on the cliffs overlooking the sheltered harbour of this beautiful little town. Barry showed us the hidden secrets of Kinsale and told us fascinating stories about the Ghost of the White Lady still haunting the Fort, the Giant of Kinsale, the locally born female pirate Anne Bonny, upon whose story parts of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies were based, and, of course, Kinsale’s iconic colourful houses and doors. Then the students had a bit of time to explore the town at their own pace and leisure before we went over to Dock Beach. At this little sandy stretch of beach just outside of Kinsale, with great views of Charles Fort on the cliffs opposite, we played a few games together to start with. Then the students could enjoy some free time – some went swimming; some played football or volleyball; some simply stretched out on their towels and chatted with their friends. In the evening we returned to Carrigaline and our host families.
Friday July 19th
The day started with a generous dose of “liquid sunshine” – it would be a day with very sudden changes of sunny spells, clouds and numerous showers – but we didn’t mind since we spent the morning indoors anyway. It was the students’ second day of English lessons and they spent four lessons speaking a lot of English, playing games and practising their communicative skills. After a short lunch break, we gathered in the centre’s theatre and played games to get to know each other better, followed by some creative impromptu storytelling activities. A highlight of the afternoon was “Save the Egg” – a fast-paced team building game. The goal of this game was to build a protective case around a raw egg (using only sheets of paper, string and a small plastic container) to keep it from breaking when dropped from the balcony on the first floor of the school building! It was great fun and, in fact, several eggs “survived”! (The winning team was the one that used the least materials.) In the evening, everybody could relax in their host families’ home, enjoying a delicious home-made dinner and the last rays of the fading sunlight.
Thursday July 18th
Day one of our Irish adventure greeted us with sunshine and blue skies – during the day there were some clouds but it was a mild and partly sunny day. The students were picked up by the school bus in Carrigaline and taken to the H2 College at the Tracton Arts and Community Centre in Minane Bridge (a mere 15 minutes’ drive from Carrigaline). After a welcome speech by Lisa, Manager of H2 Ireland and welcoming words by our teachers Jackie and Lucy, the students completed a short language test and were split into two groups accordingly. They then spent the morning in the English language classroom – getting to know each other, playing games and learning new words.
In the afternoon, our tour guide Claire showed us around Cork: To get a bigger picture of the town, we went by bus for the first part, taking in the River Lee, Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral and the University College of Cork (including the beautiful Honan Chapel, in which a wedding was taking place at that moment). We concluded our tour on foot, taking a look at the famous English Market and exploring the narrow alleys and wide shopping streets of the city centre. Finally, the students enjoyed some free time roaming the streets and discovering Cork’s secrets on their own. In the evening, we returned home to Carrigaline for a relaxing evening and a delicious dinner with our host families.
Wednesday July 17th
We had a quiet flight to Ireland and after picking up our luggage and being met by our bus driver, we were on our way south to Carrigaline, County Cork, which will be our home for the next two weeks. We arrived in Carrigaline in the very late evening and were welcomed by our host families.