[email protected]: The Edinburgh to Dublin Express
When you consider their Celtic roots, it’s probably no great surprise that there are a number of similarities between Scottish and Irish cultures. For example, they both have their own style of bagpipes, they both wear kilts, they each have their own Gaelic language and, of course, when it comes to enjoying themselves they both very much enjoy a whisky or two (although in Ireland they spell it “whiskey”).
So, during the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May, Dublin seemed like the perfect place to take a group of Kaplan Edinburgh students without them feeling too far from their newly adopted home in Edinburgh.
Together with students from Kaplan London, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and some of those already studying in Dublin, the group enjoyed a fun-filled weekend experiencing some of the best things to do in Ireland.
After an early arrival on the Saturday morning, we met with the other colleges and immediately went in search of some local history. Thanks to an excellent city tour guide, we were introduced to almost 10,000 years of Irish history in just a couple of hours. Testing the students’ English listening skills by learning about Viking invasions, repeated Irish uprisings and rebellions and discovering an abundance of famous authors (including James Joyce and Oscar Wilde) the group were soon in need of a rest. Thankfully, the magnificent Trinity College and its beautiful grounds offered the perfect sanctuary, with a live cricket match taking place just as the sun burst through the clouds.
Unfortunately, none of us really understood the rules of cricket, so we headed on towards the nearby Merrion Park. Dublin’s Social Program Manager Dan had told us about a music festival taking place there, so the rest of the afternoon was spent soaking up the sunshine and listening to live music together with what looked like the rest of Dublin’s population!
No trip to Dublin would be complete without sampling some of the city’s drinking establishments in the famous Temple Bar area, so in the evening we embarked on a pub crawl with a guide who took us to five of the best places to go for a Guinness in Dublin.
The next morning, despite a few heavy heads, the group jumped back on the bus for a trip to Northern Ireland and the city of Belfast. We spent the first part of the afternoon at the recently opened Titanic museum, learning the story of the world’s most famous boating disaster, before taking a trip to the magnificent Parliament Building at Stormont and the equally beautiful Queen’s University.
After a sleepy bus ride back to Dublin, we were then treated to one of the highlights of the trip; an Irish Music House Party! Valerie Govers, one of our students from the Netherlands, told me: “I've always been fascinated by Riverdance and the Irish Culture and I loved seeing it on stage. It brought me a lot of joy and it was amazing to see how that culture still develops even though it's so old. The performers explained a lot about the music and its background, which made it not only a fun experience but an educational one as well.”
On our final day in Dublin, with plenty still left to see, we decided to hire bicycles and explore the city a little further. We rode across St Stephen’s Green, visited the Old Jameson Distillery and of course stopped off at the world famous Guinness Storehouse for a pint of “the Black Stuff”. And for one final taste of Ireland, we all sat down for an Irish Stew for lunch.
On our short flight back to Edinburgh, we talked about the highlights of the trip and Rocio Busca, a student from Spain, summed it up perfectly: “In the Edinburgh school I found a family, if you mix them with a trip to Ireland what could be better?”
Ireland – we will be back!!