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