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MHS Students Visit Ireland!

Courtesy of the Meridian Star:

The Green Isle

Meridian High School students make friends, memories in Ireland
By: Kelly Offenberger, Meridian High School student

On Wednesday, March 7, eight students, five teachers and five parents left Meridian to travel to Shannon, Ireland.

Once in Shannon, we met our tour guide, Headleigh, who introduced us to the rest of our group, which consisted of students, teachers and parents from Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Hawaii.

Our first stop was Bunratty Castle, which was built in 1425. It is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland.

We next traveled to Adare, Ireland, where we saw Holy Trinity Abbey, which was built in the 13th century by the Fitzgerald Clan for the Trinitarian order of monks. While there, we also saw the Adare Manor Golf Club, which was built by Robert Trent Jones Sr. This is where the Irish Open is played.

The next stop was Limerick, Ireland, where we saw King John’s Castle, which was built in 1200 by King John. We also ate lunch in a quaint Irish café, shopped and took a walking tour of Limerick.

We then made our way down to Killarney, Ireland, where we rode horse-drawn carriages called "jaunting cars." These carriages took us through Killarney’s beautiful country side where we saw hundreds of Red deer.

We next traveled to Ross Castle, which was built in the 15th century by the O’Donoghue chieftains. In 1652, it was one of the last strongholds in that region to surrender to Cromwell’s forces. Once at Ross Castle, we took a boat trip around the Lower Lake in Killarney. During this trip we saw a seventh century monastery and a 12th century oratory located on Innisfallen Island. Legend has it that Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, was educated here by monks in the ninth century.

We next took a bus trip around the Ring of Kerry. This was a 110-mile trip through County Kerry, which included Killarney, the Iveragh Peninsula, Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen and Killorglin. Basically, it is a trip through Southwestern Ireland. This trip started in Killarney, where we saw St. Mary’s Cathedral. In front of this cathedral is a large cedar tree. We learned that this tree marks the graves of children who died during the potato famine.

As we passed through Killorglins we learned that their claim to fame is a billy goat named King Puck,and the Puck Fair, which takes place in August. Legend goes that as Cromwell and the “Roundheads” were pillaging the countryside around Sharnara, they came across a herd of goats grazing on the country side. When seeing the raiders, the goats took off. The he-goat or “Puck” broke away on his own and lost ontact with the herd. While the other goats headed for the mountains ”Puck “ went towards Killorglin. He arrived there in a state of exhaustion alerting the villagers of the approaching danger and they immediately set about protecting themselves and their stock. The festival is still held today in his honor.

The next stop around the Ring of Kerry was Kerry Bog Village. This village is a replica of how people lived and worked in Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In Waterville we saw the beautiful beaches. This is also where English comic actor Charlie Chaplin’s summer house is located. This house still belongs to the Chaplin Family today.

On Saturday, it was off to see the Blarney Castle and to kiss The Blarney Stone. Kissing The Blarney Stone is supposed to give you the gift of gab, great eloquence and the skill of flattery. (So be careful when you run into one of us!)

Next, it was off to Dublin, where we visited St. Patrick Cathedral, which was built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. The cathedral is built next to the famous well where St. Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. Today, St. Patrick Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland.

Our next stop was to the Trinity College Library, where we saw the Book of Kells, which was created by Celtic monks in 800. It is an illuminated manuscript written in Latin that contains the Four Gospels of the New Testament.

Monday, via a ferry ride, we said goodbye to Ireland and hello to Wales. In Wales, we visited Beaumaris Castle. Built by King Edward I in 1295, it is supposed to be the most sophisticated example of medieval military architecture in Britain.

While in Wales, we stopped in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which is a large village on the island of Anglesey in Wales. Translated, the name of this village means "The Church of Mary in the hollow of the White Hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the Church of Tysilio by the Red Cave." This village has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest name of an official place in the world.

Tuesday, we made our way to Stratford-upon-Avon, England to see Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Anne was the wife of William Shakespeare. It was a beautiful cottage with a decorative thatched roof. We next made our way to the birthplace of William Shakespeare and a church called Holy Trinity Stratford–upon-Avon, the church where William Shakespeare is buried.

Next, we traveled to Oxford, England, where we took a walking tour of the University of Oxford’s campus. This is a very prestigious college.

Our final stop was London, England. Some highlights of London were riding the underground tube, eating at the very first Hard Rock Café, visiting museums, shopping, seeing Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, and St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married.)

We also visited Abby Road, which is the road on the famous cover of the last Beatles album. We saw Piccadilly Circus, the London Eye (which is a giant ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames,) Big Ben and London’s Tower Bridge. We were also fortunate to see a demonstration by a group of college students fighting to keep education free.

And finally, the last highlight of the trip was seeing the Broadway show “The Wizard of OZ."

We would like to thank our administration and faculty for allowing us this opportunity. We made many new friends and memories that we will never forget. We are very proud and fortunate to be students of Meridian High School. This trip was an experience of a lifetime.

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