Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 6, 2019
Students get firsthand Irish experience
Students from Blue Hill Harbor School flip through books available at the Winding Stair book shop in Dublin.
by Monique Labbe
Students at Blue Hill Harbor School got the unusual opportunity to travel in Ireland during an 11-day school trip the first week of May. From theater, to music, to architecture and Irish farm life, the students received firsthand education not found in a school textbook.
The trip was coordinated by Lee Lehto and the school’s Irish Literature class. The students began fundraising in September of 2018, making Celtic knot greeting cards and selling them at the Winter Market and at local businesses. They also hosted contra dances at Halcyon Grange in North Blue Hill and at Founder’s Hall in East Blue Hill where students provided the musical accompaniment with the assistance of Heidi Daub and Fiona and Bill Schubeck.
“The community was very generous in their support and the fundraising made our trip possible,” said Lehto.
After attending The Country Girls, a play by Edna O’Brien performed by the Abbey Theatre’s traveling troupe on their first night in Ireland, the students visited Thoor Ballylee the following day. The tower is historically known for being the residence of poet W.B. Yeats. The group also visited the Cliffs of Moher, which Lehto said are a popular tourist attraction.
Music and more theater highlighted the next two days, which found the group in Galway and Sligo. The students also traveled just outside of Dublin, where they spent two nights at Ballinroan Farm.
“The farm was a favorite for many of us,” said Lehto in a newsletter she wrote about the trip. “It was a chance to get out of the cities and to enjoy some of the natural beauty of Ireland.”
The first night was spent listening to and meeting fiddler Phil Callery and vocal group the Voice Squad. The following morning, the students helped to clear gorse shrubs away from planted saplings before a mid-day feast right on the farm.
The last three days of the trip were spent in Dublin, where the group visited Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, explored the city, did some shopping and attended a dance performance at the Abbey Theatre.
Students who attended the trip are now busy compiling their photos, which will be presented at the Halcyon Grange at a later date, to be announced.