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Silver Gaisce Challenge

Silver Gaisce Challenge

Hike over the Macgillycuddy Reeks

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On the 29th of March, seven of our 4th year students set off to Kerry in an effort to achieve their Silver Gaisce Medal. The adventure challenge was the final part of the Silver Award that needed to be completed. All seven students have spent the year working on other aspects of the award including physical, personal and community challenges. To achieve a Silver Gaisce Medal it is compulsory to partake in a 3 day, 2 night challenge covering 200km on a bike or 50-79km walking. This year the Silver Challenge involved a hike over the Macgillycuddy Reeks.

The group met at 8am at the school. Our group consisted of Mary-Kate Moloney, Joseph Vaughan, Alison Hurley, Eoin Conheady, Sheilagh Larkin, Brian Lennon, John Donlon, Ms Fitzgerald and Ms Whyms. Spirits were high on the bus to Killarney, mainly due to the fact we were in the middle of the hottest few days weâ??d seen in March for a long time.

DAY 1Â Mangerton Mountain Height 893m

sg20121Mangerton was our 1st peak to attempt. Although the sight of the mountain was daunting, the clear blue skies and the sun shine made it all the more enticing. With our boots on, hiking poles ready and lunches packed we were all set. The hike took in some spectacular views of the Lakes of Killarney, the Devils Punchbowl and the Blackwater Valley. Despite the heat our group moved on at a very steady pace and confidence was high at the end of the 1st day. We packed up our gear quickly and headed on to Ballydavid, taking in the beautiful sights along the Dingle Peninsula. After well needed showers, our chefs got to work (Alison, Sheilagh and Mary-Kate) cooking up a culinary delight-Spag Bol. With our bellies stuffed, our clean up team went to work (Joe, Brian, John and Eoin). After chilling out on the beach we retired early to our beds. Once Joseph stopped walking around (wild horses would have been quieter!) we were all able to sleep.

DAY 2 Mount Brandon height-952m

sg3Day 2 began with a farewell to Ms Whyms who had to return to Tulla. After breakfast we packed our bags, picked up our guide, Conor, in Dingle and headed over the Connor Pass. The day started out with a heavy fog and dark clouds. On approaching the 1st ridge, on Mount Brandon, the mist began to clear and blue skies were visible to the West. The fitness of this group soon became apparent. With Mary-Kate and Alison leading the troop we were moving along at a very fast pace. After a brief water stop at the Ribbon Lake Valley we began our steep ascent to the head of the valley. The cloud cover had dropped and soon looking into the valley, we could see we were way above the clouds much to our delight, as this meant we were walking towards the blue skies and sun. With the sun lifting our spirits, it wasnâ??t long before we reached the summit. After a bite to eat and a few snaps, the group were anxious to get going (much to Ms Fitzâ??s disappointment!). Eoin and Brian got the gang moving and we soon began our decent down the Pilgrimage side of the Mountain towards Ballydavid. Despite tired limbs, there was no shortage of talk especially with Joe Vaughan around! If there was an All Ireland Medal for talking, it would be difficult to beat Joesph, with talk of cows and farms. Back to the lodge, climbing gear off, we hit the beach. The glorious weather had deceived us a little but as soon as we entered the Baltic cold Irish Waters our senses came back to us. With a few of us only brave enough to only dip our toes in, John Donlon rose from the trenches and dived right it. It might have taken him 4 hours to warm up after it but hey, we were impressed! After dinner we chilled out and hit the hay early with thoughts of Irelandâ??s highest mountain running through our minds.

DAY 3 Carrauntoohil Height 1050m

sgcDay 3 began with a 7am start. Spirits were high as we packed our gear, tidied up the lodge and headed for Killarney, saying goodbye to John in Castlemaine. Following a safety brief, we began our climb. It wasnâ??t as warm as the two previous days but at least it wasnâ??t raining. Despite the hours put in walking, the group were not slowed down and with the girls leading the pack again, we reached the Devils ladder in record time. After a quick water stop we started our ascent of Irelandâ??s highest peak. After 3 km from the starting point the path almost disappeared to leave what looked like a steer cliff. A stream continuously poured down the passage and with the combination of humidity and loose rock it gave our climb a sense of wild adventure. This is where the experience of Eoin and John, our scoutâ??s previous ventures really shone through. When we reached the top of the ladder the views were breath taking. With views of Cork at one side and the Blackvalley at the other we were stunned. The final part of the ascent was foggy, making visibility difficult. At last we reached the top. We took some photos at the cross, had our lunch and prepared for our decent before it got too cold. Going down the devils ladder was much easier than going up so we moved along at a great pace. Everyone was in good spirits as we made our way back through the Hagsglen. It wasnâ??t long until we were on the bus and homeward bound. Overall we had a great 3 days. We were blessed with the weather which made the views around Dingle and Killarney even more breath-taking. We had a very fit and motivated group which made the challenge most enjoyable. Congratulations to our seven students who will receive their Silver Gaisce Medal at nexts years awards night

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