Daracha Mc Glynn is doing her work placement with the Donegal Democrat and Donegallive.ie. Here is a piece she wrote about a summer she spent at the Gaeltacht on Arranmore Island:
Memories to last a lifetime - a summer at Árainn Mhór gaeltacht
Summer 2022 will always be special to me. Nothing could have prepared me for the amount of fun and laughter I was about to experience.
As I stepped on the ferry that sunday afternoon feeling very anxious, my head filled with thoughts like ‘what if the girls are not very nice?’ and ‘what if we all don’t get along together in our house?’
Once off the ferry, we all made our way to an astroturf pitch where every student sat down while Manus, the boss, gave us an introduction. He put everyone’s nerves at ease before we were sorted into our houses.
I was in Teach Mhic Eachrain. Once we reached the house, we met our bean an tí’s, we had two, we settled into our rooms and got to the monstrous task of unpacking. My roommates, Hannah, Megan and Grace were so kind and we got on right away. Eleven Dublin girls, 2 Donegal girls and 1 Galway girl were about to become lifelong friends.
I loved going to school every day. Other than the céilí, it was my favorite part of my day. Múinteoir Aoife had her own way of making any work we did fun and there was never a time that we were bored in school.
We were given the chance to go swimming in the sea almost every day but it took place at the same time as sports and I really enjoyed the sports every day. We’d play football, basketball or volleyball.
The céilís were the best. I’d partner up with one of the girls, and we’d dance the night away. Occasionally the céilí would be even longer if there were acts for the talent show performing that night. I sang in the talent show and got to the final and it is one of my favorite memories of my summer. I sang ‘Imagine’ ‘How Far I’ll go’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ as Gaeilge. I felt really proud of myself that I took part and everyone always had very kind things to say each time I performed. Our walks home were sometimes just as good as the céilí, especially on a Friday if someone from our house won Dalta na seachtaine.
I have so many stories of Árainn Mhór but if I had to choose a favorite moment, it would be the céilí mhór on our final night. We had our usual céilí that night till 10:30, then there was an awards ceremony for various competitions, our house won the football tournament. Then at 12:00, the party really started. We had a DJ and that night was the most fun I’ve ever had. I described it to my family as ‘a wedding but better.’ We danced til the early hours of the morning as we knew in just a few hours we would be saying our goodbyes, something none of us wanted to even think about.
The next morning, when we were dropped at the ferry port many, many tears were shed. We all sat together on the ferry and I could see as we pulled away from the island that none of us wanted to go home. When we reached shore, the girls met my mum and we quickly took some pictures together before they had to get on their bus home. We do group chats a couple of times each week and we are actually in the process of planning a reunion in Dublin.
Coláiste Árainn Mhóir gave me the summer of a lifetime, lifelong friends and most importantly, a love of the Irish language.
Her is a quote from my mother I will never forget: "Daracha, you were like Paddington Bear, with your brown teddy coat and your suitcase walking away onto the ferry waving to me."
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