Elements Belfast Tour
On a cold and icy Monday morning just last week 65 Elements boys awoke from our slumbers at dawn, buzzing with the excitement of the week to come. As we gathered for Morning Prayer the rest of the school looked down with envy on us as we prepared to depart for Belfast.
Our first stop along the way was at Monasterboice Round Tower where Joseph Dundon and Julian Jimenez (J Dogg) Ospina educated us on the long history of the round tower. Back on the ‘bus we made our way to Wallace High School for a match. Unfortunately the weather had really hit this part of Northern Ireland and the game had to be postponed by 24 hours, but thankfully the good people in the Titanic Museum were able to accommodate us at short notice. The exhibition was a mixture of learning and fun and the impact of the disaster was made all the more harrowing when we learnt that due to the sea life organisms living at the bottom of the ocean the Titanic wreckage would no longer exist in 25 years time.
From the Titanic Museum we embarked on our own voyage of discovery towards the La Mon Hotel where our Higher Line Prefect, Mr Frank Kelly, met us. The hotel and its comfortable surroundings were to be our home for the next three nights and we really enjoyed the many facilities, particularly the pool.
On Monday evening, following a lovely meal, we made our way to Dundonald Ice & Bowling Rink, where many of the boys displayed their basic skills on the ice. It wasn’t long before we realized that stumbling in front of some girls could result in a friendly hand being offered to help us steady up! Following the ice we bowled the rest of the evening away before returning to our hotel exhausted.
On Tuesday morning after a Full Irish Breakfast we made our way to the W5 Museum. This was a really interesting encounter and we all enjoyed it immensely, particularly the ‘climb-it’ zone and the workshops, which were based around the forces of flight and chemical reactions. Unfortunately news came through that the pitches were still frozen in Wallace and so our leaders had to make alternative arrangements for us.
Famous prisoners and Death Row
We made our way to Crumlin Road Gaol, which has played a huge part in the history of Northern Ireland and has housed many famous prisoners such as Eamon de Valera, Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. We were able to see the cells (including the padded ones) and also the cell where those on death row were kept. It was a very interesting tour and we were thankful that they were able to arrange such a magnificent alternative at such short notice. On Tuesday evening it was back to Dundonald for dinner in the Chicago steak house and a night at the cinema where we watched ‘Into the Woods’!
On Wednesday as we set out on our Tour of Belfast the weather made us hopeful that our games against RBAI would go ahead. Joe and Danny driver/tour guide/mentor made us aware just how fortunate we are to be growing up in a secure and friendly environment. We were intrigued by the outstanding display of graffiti and saddened by the division of people of different religious faiths.
Next we filled ourselves with a pre-match all-you-can-eat meal at Pizza Hut (which was probably not the best idea…). When we arrived at RBAI we were nervous but excited for the battle that lay ahead. As it happened all teams had tight matches and we came home with two losses, one win and one draw.
Although we retired back to our hotel rooms exhausted we had a sudden burst of energy when we heard that our evening activity would involve Airsoft Shooting. There were smiles and excitement all round until we entered the arena where we were shot at by 6mm pellets travelling at 220 mph! Personally we enjoyed this – particularly the battles with our prefects. The headshot Mr Bowen took from Mr Amata was also one to remember! When we reached the hotel we enjoyed the thought of a full nights sleep ‘with no messing what-so-ever’.
Thursday morning and we woke at 09:30, which was a very pleasant! We packed up all our belongings and crammed them into the bottom of the ‘bus before departing for the adventure center We Are Vertigo, where we were presented with three different activities rock climbing, high ropes and soft play area. Needless to say, our leaders were quite happy to see us letting off some steam before our long journey home.
The whole week was really good fun. Even though we are a close year already we all got to know each other really well and formed really good friendships. We would like to thank all of those who made this week possible for us, Mr Barry Bowen for organising it all; our coaches, Mr Garry Corcoran, Mr Phil Amata and GAP Student, Tim McGrath; Ms Mary Smith, Nurse Marena Molloy and Fr Michael Sheil. Mr Frank Kelly and Mr Matthew Wright also joined us along the way and were great fun too (especially Mr Kelly on the ice rink…). Mr Tony Egan also helped us out loads and we would like to thank him for his help too.
When we returned to Clongowes the headmaster had another treat waiting for us and we really appreciated the pizza he had ordered for us…thanks Father!
Gareth Donovan, Ruairi O Regan, Thomas Mulcaire