Go back to listings

Writing limericks in Limerick!

Posted on:

Writing limericks in Limerick

Hilltop High (HTH) students take their learning abroad in Ireland & Scotland

From the Ring of Kerry to the Scottish highlands, 28 HTH students were exposed to the historical, political and cultural aspects of Ireland and Scotland over the Easter Break, alongside teachers Pam Mehl, Jennifer Keay, Sarah Van De Kerckhove and Chris Keay.

School trips are an excellent learning and personal growth experience for students. Over the course of ten days, students explored and appreciated Scotland’s and Ireland’s influence on our collective global history and had the opportunity to appreciate the cultural significance of so many sights and wonders including the Titanic Museum, the Book of Kells, the influence of Robert Burns and William Wallace, the wonders of The Giant’s Causeway and the Blarney Stone.

Globalization – no corner of the world is the same!
For trip coordinator and HTH teacher Pam Mehl, there is no better experience for learning about globalization than travelling.

“We talked a lot about the commonalities between our country and Scotland and Ireland. In the classroom, we are always talking about globalization and a trip like this makes it real for students. It opens up doors and thoughts for students. They learn that the world is accessible to them, that they can  go to school in a different country, or live and work abroad. It’s not just some concept that we talk about in class or read about in a textbook, it’s a real experience."

From the ‘real-life’ situations of learning to live with their roommates, even when they’re tired and their roommates are annoying, and getting on the plane, to taking care of their personal belongings over ten days and two countries and travelling without their parents for the first time, students had the opportunity to soak up the culture and history of the two countries while building confidence and gaining skills that will serve them a lifetime.

“It kind of marks the beginning of our independence, we are just beginning to explore the world.”
Chantelle Calitz, Grade 10

Wonder - Kissing the Blarney Stone
One of the highlights of the trip for Grade 10 student Chantelle Calitz, was kissing the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that one smooch of the stone improves the eloquence of one’s speaking. But kissing the stone was a physical feat in itself.

“You literally have to lean over the battlements, hold onto these two poles, bend in a weird shape and someone has to hold your feet,” shared Calitz. “You had to climb to the top of the castle, using this ancient staircase that got narrower and narrower the higher you climbed.”

Legend – The Giant’s Causeway
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Giant’s Causeway, is renowned for its polygonal columns of layered stone (basalt) and steeped in myth and legend.

Joshua Davey, Grade 12, was inspired by the natural landscape and the legend behind its name. Some say it was carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool who left behind an ancient home full of folklore.

Architecture – fusing the old with the new
Students were in awe of the centuries old buildings and how effortlessly the old architecture fuses together with the new. One student commented on how you could have a 16th century Gothic tower sandwiched between a KFC and a baronial manor.

Castles – yes please!

A number of castles were on the group’s itinerary, bringing together so many opportunities for learning in terms of history, architecture, culture and religion. Grade 11 student, Jessical Hellekson commented on how surreal the castle visits felt.

“We’re standing in these castles where actual kings and queens lived and worked and went about their days … where historical events actually took place.”

History and Culture – just a bit!
All of the students shared how much they enjoyed the history and culture of both countries. “We learned a lot about religion and what a big part religion played in people’s lives, from their original pagan beliefs to the introduction of Christianity and the contemporary beliefs of today.”

Chantelle Calitz was amazed by the amount of western culture evident in both countries, but also at how alive and vibrant their traditions and customs are despite their exposure to western culture.

“We were surprised to see that Scottish men actually do wear kilts as daily wear. Not everyone, or even a majority, but we saw them everywhere.”

The Titanic Museum
Students were blown away with their tour of this massive, interactive museum which focuses on the Titanic and how important the shipbuilding industry was to Belfast at the time.  The impressive structure mimics the shape of an iceberg coming out of the water and features nine galleries of exhibition space, including a dark ride, underwater exploration theatre and recreations of the ship’s cabins. The last messages the Titanic sent, via Morse Code, are housed here.

Ireland’s Potato Famine
Students saw firsthand the effects of Ireland’s Potato Famine, in the crumbling, moss-covered ruins of homes deserted long ago by Irish families who either perished during the famine or left Ireland with hopes for better chances overseas. They marveled at the hugeness of a centuries old tree, standing taller and broader than the building beside it, allegedly marking the grave of the ashes of the children who died from the famine in this area of the country.

For HTH teacher, Jennifer Keay, watching the kids learn and explore, and seeing it all through their eyes made it more special.

“As a social teacher and avid historian, it was amazing to be able to go into the castles and the prisons and all of these places that we know about and read about from history, and see them in person, as well as watching the students as they begin to get a different perspective and connect with their own histories.”

Things we learned/fun facts:

  • Scottish men actually do incorporate kilts into their everyday wear

  • Animals - there are no natural, big predators in Ireland and Scotland

  • All the animals we ran into in Scotland were super hairy – the dogs, cows, the horses - all sported full shaggy coats

  • We sound like the Queen! Well, not the current Queen. Everywhere we went we got the comment that we had accents and sounded like we were using the Queen’s Old English

Our itinerary!

Day 1
Travel to Ireland!

Day 2
We arrived in Shannon, Ireland and transferred through County Kerry to the Killarney region, enjoying the ‘hundred shades of green’ of the opulent countryside in an area formed by glacial action following the last Ice Age.

Day 3
We travelled the mystical Ring of Kerry with magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Lakes of Killarney, and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks (the tallest mountains in Ireland) on a spectacular coastal route.

We visited the Bog Museum where we learned about the formation and farming of the local landscape and its importance to the local way of life. The bogs, or peat as they are locally called, still provide one of the central sources of power in the region.

Day 4
We travel to Dublin via Cashel Rock, one of the most imposing and beautiful sites in Ireland. Originally home to a round tower, abbey and cathedral – surrounded by defensive walls – the rock has played a vital part in the territorial struggles within Ireland over the centuries.

We toured Blarney Castle and (hopefully) received the “gift of gab” by kissing the Blarney Stone.

We journeyed on to Dublin, one-time home of James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and W. B. Yeats.

Day 5
We took a guided sightseeing tour of Dublin beginning with a visit to Trinity College and the Book of Kells and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Day 6
On our way to Belfast and a visit to the Titanic Museum!

Day 7
We visit the Giant’s Causeway, steeped in myth and legend.

Day 8
We board a ferry for Cairnryan and transfer to Edinburgh. We are in Scotland! We visit The Robert Burns Cottage and Museum and the historic landmarks where Burns set his greatest work.

Day 9
Guided sightseeing of Edinburgh is on the agenda today, including a visit to Edinburgh Castle and a Scottish Ceilidh Show and Dinner (including haggis, neeps and tatties), as well as authentic Scottish sword dancing.

Day 10
On our last day abroad we visited Stirling Castle and the William Wallace Monument. We spent time in the Scottish Highlands at the Trossachs and Loch Katrine, where we meet the hairiest cows (and other animals) we’ve ever seen. We also took in a nocturnal Ghost Walk of the Royal Mile.


We are Teachers! Impact of Budget 2015/16