Wednesday, May 26, 2010


So, France is awesome. My mom and I are in Nice, Southern France, about a 10 minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea :) We're staying in a really cute apartment in the middle of Old Nice, and we are right above a Boulangerie/Patisserie (Bakery/Pastry Shop). Yummmm! Fresh croissants every morning. So far, my experience here has been consisted of le cafe, le pain, le vin, la glace, la plage, le shopping, and trying to converse in French. The other night, my mom and I met a man whom we dubbed the "French Jay Leno" because of the resemblance. He was very friendly and helped us with some words we did not know. I love the coffee here, and did I mention the bread is amazing? I feel like I'm living on bread and ice cream here :D The weather is beautiful here, 70 and sunny. Every day is a perfect day for the beach. I got a bit of a "coup de soleil" the other day, but I don't think it's gonna get me down. Most people have been pretty nice and patient as I try to talk to them in my rusty French. However, there have been the few rude French as well. C'est la vie! I can walk everywhere here, which is fantastic :) Possibly Monaco today or tomorrow... we will see. Au Revoir!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Final Farewells...

I can't believe this was my last day at Bawnmore National School! It's so hard to leave. Last night, I said my goodbyes to the family and exchanged gifts. I gave them each an Indiana University t-shirt (or t-lana, in Irish) and also a couple trinkets and candy for the kids. They gave my a necklace with a celtic knot on it and an Annaghdown Judo Club sweatshirt :) Definitely not something I could get in the States. There were plenty of hugs and lots of pictures taken.

At school, the kids were all writing me notes and drawing pictures to take with me. They all wrote that they hoped I would come back soon :) The teachers gave me some presents as well, a few things to remember them by, which was incredibly sweet. I played/sang them "Leaving on a Jet Plane" one last time and they sang with me. It was so sweet to hear their voices singing "Oh babe, I hate to goooo.." I do hate to go, but I will definitely be keeping in touch with these new friends I have made. Now, on to France. Bon voyage..

Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Ashford Castle

My mother and I went on a bus tour through Connemara to Kylemore Abbey. Connemara is a part of Ireland where Irish is still spoken some as a first language. Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful, huge building and has some pretty spectacular gardens as well. It is run by nuns who bought it originally and still live there. The abbey used to be a boarding school for girls, but is now mainly a tourist attraction.

Mary Fahy and Geraldine took my mom and I to Cong and the Ashford Castle. This castle was huge and incredible, with beautiful grounds. It is a high-end hotel and very well kept up. We looked at the celebrity hall of fame, and saw that many famous people had stayed there including Robin Williams, Russel Crowe, Brad Pitt, and Ronald Regan. After walking around, pub for dinner, seafood chowder and Baileys coffee. In Ireland, if the food is really good it's "beautiful" or "gorgeous". That chowder was just gorgeous.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catholic School

My mom, who is visiting by the way, recently found out that my school is Catholic and chastised me for not telling her. Therefore, I thought I would describe it a bit:

Most schools in Ireland are private Catholic schools, run through the local parish. The teachers aren't nuns or anything though, just regular 'ol teachers. The kids say their prayers at the start and end of the day, and also before lunch time usually. They can say their prayers in Irish and in English :) They also have religion as a subject, but they don't learn it every day as they would Maths, English, and Irish. In addition, any upcoming events in the church that involve the children, such as confirmation or first communions, would be prepared for at the school. For example: when the 2nd class students were getting ready for their first communion, they practiced their songs and lines at school, and took a couple school field trips to the church in order to practice walking down to the altar and saying their parts. All of the students from 3rd class up also participated: they played musical instruments and sang in the "choir" during the first communion. It is common for the whole school to support students in these important milestone events.

In an average day at the school, school starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 2:40 PM. There is a small break at 10:45, and a big break at 12:30. The kids eat their lunch and play during both breaks, while the teachers congregate in the staff room for a "cuppa" and a chat. In general, the teachers are in charge of teaching extra-curricular subjects such as art, music, and p.e. However, outside teachers come in once-a-week for special classes. A music teacher comes in on Thursdays and an Irish dance teacher comes in on Tuesdays. Also, some lads from a local hurling club come in some days to work with the kids and teach them skills. They love this, and so do their teachers :) Often times, school sports matches such as hurling, football, or even swimming will be held during school hours and the participating students and teachers will leave on a bus during the day to go to their match. On these days, not much study is accomplished.

My school is very small compared to what I'm used to. There are about 140 students from the ages of 4 (junior infants) up to age 12 (6th class). There are 6 different classrooms and 6 different teachers for 8 grade levels. There are also a couple teachers that come into the school for learning support jobs, working with students with disabilities. The principal of the school teaches the 5th and 6th class students, along with performing her administrative duties. The teachers are all women, except for the brave 1st class teacher, Sean.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

If you want to sing out, sing out

In school the past week, the kids had their trophy day for Irish dancing. Claire Grealey, 4 time world Irish dancing champion and alumni of Bawnmore National School, made a special visit to watch the students dance and hand out trophies. All of the kids were very excited :)

The students were devastated when they learned that I would be going home soon. They were all hoping that the Iceland volcano would erupt again and keep me from leaving. They all offered that I could stay at their houses... it was very sweet :)

Here are some popular Irish names:

For girls: Ciara (Keera), Aoife (Eefa), Niamh (Neeve), Órlaith (Orla), Róisín (Rosheen), Siobhan (Shivawn), Sinead (Shenade)

For boys: Darragh, Oisín (Osheen), Conor, Sean, Gerard, Mícheál (Meehawl)

In one class at school there are 2 Aoife's (Eefa), an Aeobhe (Ava) and an Aisling (Ashleen). Very confusing.

Some fun quotes from the classroom (I love listening to these kids talk. Imagine these in an Irish accent):

"Please don't make me go first, if I don't get one I like, I'll go cracked!"

"He's top class!"

(In a very dramatic voice) "Oh teacher, I've a terrible pain in my stomach!"

"You're from Indiana... do you know Indiana Jones?"

"Teacher, they're being bold!"

"He's takin' the micky out of me!"

... and the phrase I hear the most often: "teacher, can I go toilet?" (they ask me this in Irish as well, but don't ask me to say/spell it.)

In school the other day, I taught my kids the song "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" by Cat Stevens. They still seem to love "Leaving on a Jet Plane" best though, I don't know why. They used to giggle at the kissing parts, but they've gotten a bit better about it.

As of yet, I still have not found a leprechaun or an Irish boyfriend, but there is still time...

Speaking of Rugby...

Here's what I've learned about the game so far:

• In Ireland, there are four major teams for four provinces: Munster, Leinster, Ulster, and Connacht.

• A try is worth 5 points and is awarded when a player crosses the tryline at the end of the field and touches the ball to the ground.

• A conversion, worth 2 points, can be attempted after a try is scored. The kicker must place the ball between two posts at the end of the field.

• The game is played in two 40 minute halves.

• Players can only pass behind them.

• The “scrum” is the huddle in the middle of the field where the two teams push against each other to gain ground.

• The “hooker” is the most respected player on the team, and is in the center of the scrum.

• An old Irish Rugby joke- “It is the height of pride for a father when his son is the hooker for Munster. It is the height of shame for a father when his daughter is the hooker for Munster”.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ireland's Call

This is another song that the kids like to sing for me. Here's some Irish culture for you- the National Rugby Anthem.

Come the day
And come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer
Our country's call...
From the four proud provinces of Ireland.

Ireland, Ireland
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We'll answer Irelands call.

From the mighty
Glens of Antrim
From the rugged hills of Galway
From the walls of Limerick
And Dublin Bay
From the four proud provinces of Ireland.

Hearts of steel
And heads unbowing
Vowing never to be broken
We will fight, until
We can fight no more.
For the four proud provinces of Ireland...