Inis Meáin brings out the best in a Dublin girl

Girl.inismeain.png

Monday  -  

- I'm 16 years old and in sixth year at Coláiste Naomh Eoin, on Inis Meáin, in the Aran Islands. I started school here the September after my Junior Cert and went straight into fifth year. Before coming here I went to John Scottus School, a fee-paying school in Donnybrook, Dublin. I really liked it, and I only ever planned to leave it temporarily, for transition year, to improve my Irish.

It didn't work out like that, and island life grew on me. The year on the island was so worthwhile academically that it served as my fifth year, a common occurrence among students who come to Inis Meáin for transition year. I didn't have to think twice about coming back for sixth year.

When the idea of coming to Inis Meáin was suggested to me first, I was sceptical. To spend an entire school year away from home - and not just away from home but on a small Irish-speaking island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? No thanks. But I thought about it a lot and talked it over with my friends and family. I have two older brothers, David and Eoin, who are in college and who I miss a good bit when I'm away. Both of my parents thought moving here was a great idea and completely supported it, although my mam gets a bit sick of being the only girl in the house.

Irish had always been one of my favourite subjects, but the idea of being almost completely independent of my parents for a whole year was probably what tipped it for me in the end. The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht run a scholarship scheme, so I completed the application form, did the interview and was offered an accommodation scholarship.

My adventure started there and then. This island has attracted great scholars, including John Millington Synge, William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory and Patrick Pearse. They were influenced by island life and folklore, as well as learning Irish. That set the bar for my ambitions.

Tuesday
I was woken up on Tuesday morning by one of my room-mates getting up early for Irish traditional-music lessons. I really relish these leisurely mornings, because last year my Tuesday mornings started with a chemistry class before school, an option offered to those who take it as an extra subject. I took up construction studies for the first time in fifth year, as it wasn't offered in my last school.

Coláiste Naomh Eoin has only 28 pupils, with just eight in the senior cycle, and the small size of the school really comes in handy.

In the first week of term the entire school went on a bonding day trip to Galway. We went kayaking on Lough Corrib, using NUIG's facilities, and then to a big sports centre called Pure Skill. It really helped to break the ice with the new students. By the time we got back to school we were all a lot more comfortable with one another. In such a small school, one person can affect the entire dynamic. 

Wednesday
Going to school here is completely different from Dublin. You always feel so safe here. The idea of having an alarm on your house or even locking your front door would be laughable - completely different from having to watch your handbag as you walk around Dublin city. I found it a bit difficult to settle in at first. Not that I was homesick, as such: more that I have always lived in the city. You can jump on a bus into town after school or stay the night at your friend's house. I'm too busy for that here.

read more at The Irish Times









Recent Entries

Inis Meáin brings out the best in a Dublin girl
Monday  -  - I'm 16 years old and in sixth year at Coláiste Naomh Eoin, on Inis Meáin, in…
Celebrating Tim Robinson
By Richard MarshI've always loved maps.  I can't think about travelling or a new place without a map, not always…
Cottage
"The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. . . ."
Photo: Leonard DoyleExtract: JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN New York Times Published: February 10, 2012 He was blind in one eye and…
Separated at Birth, the Burren and the Aran Islands
The Burren, a rocky wilderness in western Ireland, is a region of ancient magic and infinite strangeness The cliffs…
Stones of Aran, a NY Review of books "masterpiece"
Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage (New York Review Books Classics) by Tim Robinson">Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage (New York Review Books…
Inis Meáin, through the peephole, 1973
Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, Ireland. 1973 from Brendan F. on Vimeo.A short film on life in Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) in…
Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, Ireland 1973
Aileen's is the perfect wave
LORNA SIGGINS, Marine Correspondent The Irish TimesIT IS a magnet for surfers, a nightmare for rescue agencies, and now it…
At last the west awakes to broadband
Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands. The islands have already been covered by the National Broadband Scheme,…
Turning Green With Literacy...Why should we celebrate the Irish?
Op-Ed Contributor"Well, the heart's a wonder," says Pegeen Mike in John Millington Synge's comedy "The Playboy of the Western World."…
How Many "Greats" in Obama's Irish Grandfather?
President Barack Obama walks with Ireland's Prime Minister Brian Cowen and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., after a…