Irish Club Travels To The Land of Green


The Irish Club at Blarney Castle.

Gabrielle Daley, Features Editor

While many stayed home in the frigid weather of Western Massachusetts, the West Springfield High School Irish Club found a pot of gold during this spring break. Traveling overseas to the green island of Ireland, the students in the club enjoyed days filled with activities and new experiences. From the landscapes, food, and quality time with friends, their trip from April 11th to 19th was even more than what they had hoped for – they experienced Ireland at its finest.

The Irish Club is a community which promotes Irish language, history, and culture within West Springfield. It started in 2015 as a cultural exchange program with Dingle High School in Ireland. Dingle is the sister city of West Springfield as of November 2017, meaning both cities have found a common ground in expanding tourism and economic opportunities amongst themselves. The plan is that students from Dingle and students from West Springfield would visit each other in alternating years.

Junior Ymani Carmichael horseback riding


The Irish Club is open to students at WSHS, Irish or not, and you should contact Mrs. White or Mrs. Sawyer if you’re interested. “I believe that it’s important for students to experience a different culture, whether it be through school travel or with family because in this community we live a very convenient life. Learning about a different culture, especially one that is so close to a lot of people in Western Mass, Dingle is our sister city, is really a big deal and we want to foster that relationship,” stated co-adviser of the Irish Club Mrs. White. They’ve raised funds for the past two years, and this spring they finally experienced everything they had been working so hard for – a visit to Ireland.

Upon their arrival, the club members visited the famous Blarney Castle in the city of Cork, home to the Blarney Stone. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab (the art of flirtation and eloquence). Henceforth, the Irish club was able to kiss the stone like proper Irish tourists after admiring and exploring the tall breathtaking structure and grounds that date back to 1200 AD.

The Irish Club at Torc Waterfall

Later in the week, the club went horseback riding over the rolling green hills with the ocean in view. “It was on the countryside and we were able to see valleys and the beach in the distance,” said junior Ymani Carmichael. They also hiked Torc Waterfall in Killarney. “The Waterfall was one of the most beautiful scenic locations we visited that truly showed the beauty of the country,” said junior Olivia Dwyer. On a rainy day, they challenged themselves by rock climbing indoors. The club visited Dingle Crystal workshop to witness how blown glass is made and created their own ceramic piece at Louis Mulcahy Pottery the following day. Another highlight was visiting Houlihan’s Farm, where they held fluffy baby sheep. That same day they went to the Blasket Visitor Center, where they learned about Irish immigration to Springfield during the 20th century.

Tasneem Kelly with a baby lamb

The students were able to fully immerse themselves into the Irish culture. They constantly visited shops, ate at different restaurants and most importantly they experienced high school life in Ireland. The club shadowed Irish students at Dingle High School one day and learned how different day to day life can be between countries. The high school covers the whole Dingle Peninsula, meaning some students have to travel up to 45 minutes every morning to get to school. All students in Dingle are bilingual in English and Irish, and also take a third language at school. They became very close with the students there, and in the following days, they spent a lot of time together in their cottages during the evening. They returned to the school and learned how to Irish dance in partners with their new friends. “I started learning how to dance first with a boy from Ireland. It was embarrassing but then I got the hang of it and had fun spinning to their unique music and everyone joined in,” said junior Kaitlin Miller.

On the day of their departure, they were able to admire the Atlantic Ocean from Inch Beach in Dingle one last time. “It was very eye-opening and an amazing experience. Going to Ireland – which was on my bucket list and going to see the landscapes, and lifestyle there. Comparing the culture and atmosphere to America was my favorite part,” junior Lauren Kenney said. The Irish Cultural Center is working with Dingle High school to hopefully bring students from Dingle to West Springfield. Keep an eye open for them next year, and be sure to welcome them with West Side spirit.