Going for Gold

So, I’m doing this thing called Gaisce – The Presidents Award, and if anyone has never heard of it, it’s the most prestigious Award in Ireland for young people aged 15 to 25. It’s described as a self-directed personal development programme. I’ve been a part of this since I was in fourth year, and have so far achieved the bronze and the silver award. The last stop is Gold, and if I complete this I’m a pure legend. But more importantly, I get to meet Mr. President himself Michael D. Higgins.

As the Website states :

“Gaisce is an old Irish word which means ‘a great achievement’ and it is in the spirit of this meaning that the programme challenges  young people to set and pursue personal goals in four different areas of activity:

  • Community Involvement
  • Personal Skills
  • Physical Recreation
  • Adventure Journey”

So a lot of shtuff is needed lets say.

I ventured off on a cold, wet January morning for my 4 day excursion of Cill Airne (Irish for Killarney if you’re not Irish folk). The friends and memories that were made added to the experience. But also the absolute shite weather! Here’s a small account of what went down.

Day 1:

We got on the wrong train. Off we were to Dublin. Luckily enough, before we got to Mallow, we realised. Got on the right train an hour later, our adventure begins again. Arrived at the train station in Killarney, our walking begins there. Got to the hostel, quickly changed into my oversized walking gear, looking very attractive indeed. Took a few pics all jolly outside the Hostel as we headed out on our first 25km walk through the National park. Billy (our leader) had the tunes blaring on his new speaker he got from santa, and it made the walking that much more bearable.

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Day 2:

Up bright and early we were, looking forward to our continental breakfast that was promised to us. Buzzing for my croissants so I was. Got down to the kitchen and to our dismay, Bran flakes, corn flakes and toast were awaiting us. I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting croissants, being the French student that I am. But we didn’t complain, we savaged everything. Little did we know it would be the worst day yet. Lets just say we all nearly died that day. 35km in and the rain had gone through most of our clothes and right through to the undies. Not a very comfortable situation to be in when you’ve to walk 35km. I must say, MuckRoss house toilets are kept very clean though. Torc waterfall banjaxed all of our knees with those steps. ( I’m still having problems walking around campus with my knees over it). Silver had completed theirs and got to go home. Gold still had to power through.

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Day 3:

Replay of the day before’s morning at the breakfast table. Billy’s speaker had run out of battery. Our hope was lost. We set off for the Gap of Dunloe, and it felt never-ending to get there. Met a few stray dogs on the way, even though they smelled, so did we. We got along. Every pub and hotel we passed were closed (Who picks January for an adventure journey?), so the toilet option for girls was a no-go. All of us were in agony with our knees. It was dark while we were walking back. Never felt so homeless in my life. We played uno that night, bought a chocolate cake on discount in Tesco for celebrations. Few of us stayed up chatting and laughing till the AM.

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Day 4:

Had a lie-in because of all the hard work we had done, still made it down before breakfast ended.

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“I’m going back to the start”

My father passed on his love of music to me, which I am ever so grateful for, because at a very young age I was exposed to some of the most amazing music ever made. He always had classical music playing for me while I slept in my crib, and I truly believe that this simple act has benefitted me greatly in my emotional and creative development. Not to mention he helped me develop my love for some of the greatest artists I believe to be out there; U2, Coldplay, Stereophonics. I know some people may have never heard of Stereophonics, and they are no longer as big, as Coldplay and U2 still are. But every time I hear one of their songs that is recognizable to me, I just feel happy inside, and the nostalgia of those good old days as a young child going on road trips with my dad, comes flooding through my memory. How I know all of this has benefitted me greatly, is because throughout my childhood I have played many musical instruments; Tin-whistle(Like every other primary school child in Ireland, more than likely), Cello, Violin, Piano, and Singing. I loved all of these instruments, but the two that I have stuck to with a great passion is signing and the piano. I do also give credit to my mom for my passion for the piano, as she did, and still does pay for my lessons!

My mother passed on her love of art to me. From as long as I can remember, My mom had always provided me with the tools and supplies that I needed to create anything I wanted to. I had this life-size kids easel that had a chalkboard on one side, and on the other side you could clip on your A3 pages and paint or colour anything you wanted. We would take turns with each side, making our own masterpieces, either with chalk or paint. My mom would be creating a chalky beach, while I would be painting a sun with a smiley face. I would mostly paint and draw pictures with colours, and my creations were hung around the house because my mother was so proud of everything I did. I got so motivated that I would enter competitions whenever I saw the chance. One year I won an art set from Supervalu because I had the best coloured in Halloween picture out of everyone! This passion was then pursued when I went to secondary school, as I had chosen it for my full six years there. My art teacher helped me to hold onto this passion that I had, and I swore when I left that I would keep it alive. I have a lot of diverse hobbies and interests for a nineteen-year old girl, and picking one for my blog was a tough call, but I stuck to that promise I made to myself and chose art.