Montrose Trip to Ireland

Cliffs of Moher

Helen Olohan '24

Cliffs of Moher

On February 16th, sixteen Montrose students departed Logan airport, along with Miss White, Miss Slocum, and Miss Rice, and headed for Dublin, Ireland. Waiting at the gate was incredibly exciting while also nerve-wracking. Our group was able to board fairly quickly and was able to work out the seating arrangements well (after all signing on the night before over Facetime.) Once the flight was in the air, my nerves began to settle, and I was able to enjoy some movies while attempting to get some sleep. However, it was hard to fall asleep, and I ended up staying awake the whole flight. We landed in Dublin at 5 am, got our bags, and immediately headed to get coffee in an attempt to help us stay up for the rest of the day. 

After a stop at the Botanic Gardens, we arrived at Rosemont at noon to meet up with our families. It was very exciting to see our Ireland friends again after having said goodbye in October. My girl, Ella, and her mom, Sinead, took me out to lunch when I first arrived and then went to their house. They lived on an Irish farm and had horses right in their backyard ( along with cows, dogs, cats, goats, sheep, and pigs.) I was determined to stay awake until at least 8 pm to get over the jet lag, so Ella and I went out into town and walked around, exploring new places. I fell asleep right at 8 and woke up at 11 the next day, but my jet lag was perfectly gone. 

The Botanic Gardens

We then had a free day which we all spent in different ways – I went into Dublin (or as they say – “into town”) with some of the other Montrose girls and their host sisters. Our girls showed us around their favorite spots; it was fun to experience the city with them! 

That Sunday was our first trip with the Montrose group. We met at Bewleys, a famous breakfast spot in Dublin’s city center. It was a beautiful place to eat, and the food was unbeatable. The group then had some time to explore the city,\ before heading to mass. Once mass was completed, we embarked on a “Bard Tour of Dublin.” A man led us through the city, showing us the famous landmarks while singing songs and telling stories about the area. 

Grafton Street Performer (Helen Olohan ’24)

The following Monday we embarked on our first full-day excursion to Belfast. It was a bit of a drive, but the view outside the bus was incredible. Once we arrived in Northern Ireland, we toured Crumlin jail, known as “Europe’s Alcatraz.” Experiencing Crumlin was one of my favorite parts of the trip as it is rooted in so much history regarding the Irish Revolution which is something my family discusses often as well as our family history in the uprising. The prison had an eerie feel to it, especially knowing about the people who were executed within it. After leaving the prison, a man toured us around Belfast and taught us about the troubled history of the city and shared his own experiences. He was jailed for nineteen years due to his involvement in the IRA and spent three of those in the Crumlin jail. Meeting him was incredible and hearing his story made the history of the place come to life. 

That Tuesday we went over to Rosemont for a day of classes. Some of us were following our girls who were in their “TY” year, meaning that their school day was a little less curriculum based. We had self-defense class and home ec, where we made pancakes in honor of Fat Tuesday! Rosemont felt a lot like Montrose, and they even had a block similar to our M blocks. The facilities were gorgeous and lots of Montrose girls and teachers were in awe of how spacious the building was. After school, we all went home with our girls and just had a chill day. I went out with my girl and then caught up on some homework. That night, my family had a cow give birth, and so they brought me down to the farm to see the new babies. 

On Ash Wednesday we made another trip over to Kilkenny, which again was a bit of a drive. After mass in an ancient church (seriously it was made out of stone and seemed to be out of a movie) we had free time to explore. Everyone broke off and walked around the area, roaming around coffee shops and the stores that lined the streets. We all met up later at Kilkenny Castle, where we toured ourselves. Honestly, I felt like I was in Princess Diaries walking through the castle. It was stunning and we all couldn’t get over how unreal the building was. Before we left the city, we were given a little bit more time to explore. My friends and I stumbled into a jewelry shop where we met the best man of the trip: Mr. Desmond. This story alone could be its own article, or you could ask Katie Hanifin ‘24. He was a silversmith and everything in the shop he made by hand in the back (he even made the national Gallic futbol trophy). We talked to him for the rest of our time in Kilkenny, and it was the best way to end it. 

Kilkenny Castle (Helen Olohan ’24)
Kilkenny Castle (Helen Olohan ’24)

Thursday was our final day in Ireland, and we did not waste a minute. We loaded onto the bus and drove across the country to the Cliffs of Moher. It was well worth the bus trip, as it was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. As Mrs. Kris would say, it was an awe moment. We got to spend an hour at the cliffs, hiking around and exploring. 

Cliffs of Moher

After the cliffs, we drove an hour over to Galway City where we explored for a bit. The city was lined with Irish flags and street performers, and the energy was undeniable. We all wished we could’ve stayed longer, but we had a long drive ahead of us, and we needed to get home to pack!

Saying goodbye to the Irish girls was bittersweet, but we know that we will visit again. My girl and I are already making plans to see each other again – hopefully this summer!  The trip has definitely been the highlight of my Junior year and getting to see the place my family talks about so much was awesome. I felt like I could finally understand what my dad meant when he talked about Ireland, and how it truly is a place like none other. Condensing the trip into one article was a difficult feat as I could talk about it for hours. This short summary seriously does not do it justice. For rising Sophomores and Juniors, I cannot recommend this exchange enough! 


By Helen Olohan ‘24, News Editor