TY Trip to Krakow, Poland

During Easter, Transition Year in its entirety united the two classes for one of our final events of the year; an excursion to the historic city of Krakow in Poland and its environs.
We set off for Dublin airport, this alone being an exciting concept for many of us, early in the morning. Hours upon tiring hours later, we found ourselves landing at John Paul II International Airport; for some students, this had been their first flight, so it was a new experience, shared alongside their fellow TYs.
We stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of the city, and the mid to late 20th Century architecture in the suburbs, large, open and overbearing, was a deep pronouncement to the Soviet Era in Poland, in a time when communism and industry ruled. I think this settlement layout was quite strange for all of us.
On the first day of the trip, we rose early, treated to a breakfast with Polish meats and cheeses, heading into the city centre for a guided tour. First we visited Schindler’s Factory Museum, which was an exhibition dedicated to two things; firstly, to the life of Oskar Schindler, who was an industrialist, spy, and Nazi, credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews, showing mercy in a time of unimaginable horror. Secondly, the museum was dedicated to commemorating the abhorrent treatment of Jews in Krakow during Nazi occupation.
We soon learned that Krakow, and indeed Poland, is a country defined by its past in every sense, no era more so than World War II. As we continued our walking tour of the city, we visited the Jewish Quarter of the city, which was most historic and intriguing; then we visited Wawel Castle & Cathedral, one of Poland’s most iconic royal sites, with stunning masonry and a cathedral gilded in gold, artefacts and memory. We ended the tour by exploring the city centre, its history and culture. To finish the day, we went bowling together, with teachers and students joining as one; this simple and fun activity was, in itself, a unifying part of the trip.

On the second day, we visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, some miles west of Krakow. I could not justifiably call this tour enjoyable, interesting but it had an enormous impact on us and is unforgettable. |Its truth was that it was vile, and something that we, as humans, should all visit in our lifetime. The camp is a grave reminder of horrible, indescribable acts committed by humanity, and what xenophobia, fear, and lust for power can lead to. This one hit me hard.

salt mines

To finish the day, we went to a waterpark in Krakow, which was an uplifting and fun counterpoint to the concentration camp visit to say the least. 

On the final day, we visited the Wieleczka Salt Mines, a massive complex reaching far underground, testimony to the gruelling labour endured to extract this sought-after material. The mines were, for me, the most exciting part of the trip, for they were filled with amazing statues, and indeed entire underground chapels, the size of cathedrals, carved entirely out of salt. This was a magical experience, seeing the beauty carved out of stone… the descent was most an interesting prelude, walking down countless steps, staring at a dark abyss below. The ascent was much less enjoyable, cramming up to 7 people at a time in a miner’s elevator one-quarter the size of a commercial elevator.
To finish the day, we firstly went to a shopping centre, where half of the year (the female half) managed to reach their sought-after place of pilgrimage - the Inglot shop. In they paraded in their droves, many equipped with shopping lists for others at home. They emerged laden down with shopping bags and significantly lighter in their pockets. Inglot actually sold out of many products that day. Finally, we did another round of eating, shopping, and everything in between in the historic city centre, with wonderful markets, cathedrals, and shops.
And thus ended our trip to Poland. It was a wonderful trip, (yes, even the dodgy provided lunches were a “bath in the culture”, as it were) and one that I think none of us will ever forget. Poland, for me, was surprising in its efficiency, industry, and also its number of churches. We sincerely thank Ms Lonergan for organising the trip. She invested enormous amounts of time planning every moment of this trip, ensuring that our time was filled with fun and fascinating visits. The detail she went to, ensures that our trip went like clockwork. Ms. Lonergan, along with Ms. Glynn and Mr. Hanrahan, Barbara, and Mary gave up their holidays and their sleep so that we could make great memories. We are grateful to all of them. We laughed, we saw, we bonded and we left, as a better group, and better individuals or so I believe.

By Michael Fitzgerald.

The TYs Speakout

IMG 4543The TY students were in the Lime tree theatre on Thursday last presenting their Young Social Innovator projects.
These were Is Blazing the amazing? TY1 wanted to show young people the dangers of smoking marijuana at a young age and TY 2 highlighted road safety with ‘It won’t happen to me’
Both groups were excellent and we will get the results on 24th April!
Well Done

Transition Year Newsletter 2017


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Model Students! -


Despite a very early start to the day (6.30 !) a group of dedicated T.Y. students, their teacher Ms. Glynn and Barbara Kelly and our debating trio of Megan Olley, Michael Fitzgerald and Ethan Delaney made the long trip up to Dublin to compete in the Model E.U. Council debate in Dublin castle. The debate took place on Friday, 10 March 2017 in the Printworks in Dublin Castle and Transition, Fifth and Sixth Year students from 28 schools competed in the event. Each school was tasked with representing one of the 28 European Union Member States. St. Joseph’s had been assigned the country of Greece for the purposes of the debate and we were delighted to speak to the Greek ambassador over breakfast. She kindly presented us with some Greek memorabilia and spoke warmly of her visits to Clare. She also warned that she was expecting a win as last year’s previous winners had also been representing Greece! We assured her we would do our best.

As Gerry Kiely, Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland said: "This debate is to get our young people thinking about the big issues that will affect their lives. It's to show them how politics works in the EU which is so important in decisions about Trade. Decisions about their futures are made in Dublin, Brussels and further afield, and it's critical that our youth understand what is going on in this area and how decisions are arrived at.” We were delighted to take part in such a fantastic event.
The theme of the 2017 debate was EU trade policy and in preparation our team had put a lot of effort into researching international trade deals and the implications for Greece’s citizens and economy. Equipped with weeks of research our team presented their views on international trade agreements and the importance of maintaining high ethical standards and ensuring that Greece economy did not suffer as a result of an EU agreement. One of our key focuses was on the importance of maintaining the status of ‘Products of Designated Origin’ within any future trade agreements. A failure to do so would have had a negative on Greece’s Feta cheese industry.
The debate was chaired by Mairéad Lavery of the Irish Farmer's Journal. Despite opposition and derision from other countries Greece remained true to its ideals and eloquently expressed why we must protect the livelihoods of ordinary citizens. After a particularly tense stand-off with Spain our team received an outburst of applause – a signal of what was to come!
When Lynn Boylan MEP announced the winning and runner-up teams and presented the Prizes and we were incredibly proud and happy to be announced winners of this prestigious competition- an incredible achievement considering the scale of the event.
St. Joseph’s have been invited to bring 24 pupils and their class teacher to Strasbourg in France to take part in the European Parliament's Euroscola project in September. This project allows students from the EU's 28 Member States to work together for a day, just as the MEPs would in the European Parliament. The team speakers also received a goody bag with an I pad mini. We are all incredibly excited about this fantastic opportunity. An enormous THANK YOU to Ms. Glynn, without her support and enthusiasm, we would not have achieved our win. Photos courtesy of Maxwell Photography


Transition Year Update 2016

ty2016September brought a whole new batch of TY students to us and we quickly realised what a great bunch they are. Our TY students have embraced the challenges presented to them, so far, with enthusiasm and vigour and we are delighted with the feedback we have had about our students. From their work experience employers, to the workshop providers, to the staff at Colaiste Acla, universally, the group has been described in glowing terms and this is certainly a great start to the year and a good indicator of things to come.
Thanks to Ms. O’ Connor for organising a very beneficial TY Induction Day early in the term which helped students to focus on their own goals and to Mr. Ryan and Barbara Kelly for facilitating the team challenges which encouraged students to work together in a fun and competitive environment. Transition Year is an exciting and challenging year due, in no small way, to all of the voluntary work well beyond the normal timetable, of so many teachers and parents. Take a look at our latest newsletter here.

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Transition Year