Featuring somewhere on most people’s travel wish lists is the lovely, idyllic Emerald Isle. We can think of many reasons why Ireland should be a destination of choice for young people, scenery being one, and music, literature and history being a few more! Student Horizons frequently sends school tours to Ireland for sports, history, and English. Ireland is a fun, friendly and beautiful place, well known for its rolling green hills, craggy coastlines, great beer, tin whistles and… Halloween?
It is believed that the holiday most now associate with American children trick-or-treating actually originated in Celtic Ireland. Over 2,000 years ago, the Celts held an annual festival called Samhain to celebrate the passing of summer into winter. They believed the veil between worlds thinned enough during this time to allow spirits to pass through. People would dress themselves in animal skins and carve threatening faces into turnips, all to ward off evil spirits. A very different purpose for the spooky costumes and jack-o-lanterns seen on Halloween today!
When it comes to historical school tours, Ireland is the perfect place to discover some fascinating stories. It boasts many heritage sites, and history students will find plenty to interest them among the ancient ruins. They might even hear a ghost story or two. Ireland’s ancient gaols are the first stop for a darker side of history. Many people believe that Wicklow Gaol in particular is haunted, and there have been several reports of paranormal sightings. Prisoners were sometimes sent there for crimes as minor as stealing a potato. Ireland was also a base for pirate activity for many hundreds of years. Even the famous St Patrick was captured from England and brought back to Ireland by pirates! And of course, Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was Irish, and grew up in Dublin. There is a Bram Stoker festival in Dublin every year in the days leading up to Halloween. The festival includes such spooky events as ghost tours, vampire tales, a haunted library and even séances!
Luckily, Ireland is not all creepy buildings and dark tales. The scenery alone is enough of a reason to pay a visit. There are stacks of outdoor activities and excursions available to really appreciate the outdoors. Football and rugby are both popular sports in Ireland, and played by thousands of people across the country. Ireland’s national rugby team is currently ranked fifth in the world. For those seeking a little more adventure, there are many options available. Sea kayaking, mountain biking and hiking all offer the perfect opportunity to soak up the glorious landscape. The ancient beauty of the castles, cathedrals and manors showcase Ireland’s romantic mystique. You will feel as inspired as any of the famous Irish writers and poets when faced with sights like these.
Ireland is a beautiful country with famously friendly people, but it is so much more too. For anyone heading off on sports, history or literary school tours, Ireland truly has it all. With entertainment and intrigue for everyone, from the horror buff to the sports fan, we think it’s not to be missed!
Get in touch with us for your next overseas school tour to Ireland!