Dublin - Grafton Street
Were you curious to know more about my trip to Dublin? Well, I thought it was better to wait on. I didn't want to write on the heat of the moment. It would have been rushed and unfiltered. Time always sweetens, softens and smooths the excesses. I've waited and waited but now I've decided it's rather time to confess the truth, nothing else but the truth. Gosh, I'm being quite melodramatic. Too much if you think I have no crime to confess, only my disillusionment. Yes,  if you expect an enthusiastic report,  don't read further, just stop here.

I had promised myself  "never again" after this experience back in 2011. Instead, here I am,  I did it again. I'm a repeated offender, so no clemency for me.  I totally agree.

Where can I start from? Do you want to know what Dublin was like, my friends? Let's start from the few positive memories.
I posted pictures on my facebook and twitter and they were incredibly sunny and colourful, weren't they? In fact, we were blessed with good weather,  which anyone who has been to Ireland at least once knows it is so rare.
Dublin was as lively and welcoming as I had expected it to be. Dubliners were hard-working,  helpful, kind, talkative though a tiny bit loud and out of control on Friday and Saturday nights. There was always music and a festive crowd in the city centre, though St. Patrick's day was yet to come (quite soon,  since we were there from March 5th to 11th).

James Joyce
If only I had gone in the right company.

My "companions"... that was what spoilt everything, first and above all my mood. The company I was travelling with: 31 teenage students. That would have worn out even the patience of the most enthusiastic traveller in the world.
They were not interested in any of the landmarks or places of historical interest in the city, they didn't want to go sightseeing, they complained all the time even when we were by the sea,  in a beautiful tiny village, Howth.

What did they ask for all the time? Here are their FAQs:

Can we go to the MacDonald's restaurant? To the pub? To do some shopping in the city centre? Because, you know, theirs is a generation of desperate compulsive consumers!  Ours too, but we are less desperate and less compulsive. At least, I am not. Not at all. Not a compulsive buyer. Desperate ... I may be, sometimes.

Their favourite slogan? "We are young, we want to have fun". Their idea of having fun? Going to a pub. Not many variations on the theme. Oh, yes! MacDonald's.

Dublin by night
If you mention Ireland or Dublin to me now,  what comes to my mind is a sense of frustration and disappointment. And, please,  remember what I said at the beginning of this post: I have waited up till now before writing down my impressions.  Had I done it earlier, it would have been worse, believe me. I was furious as soon as I was back.
Useless to wait though: I was and am so sad for not having being able to visit at least St Patrick's or Christ Church that ... What? Didn't I visit the most important medieval churches in the town? Swift's parish? What did I see of Dublin, then? So little in 6 days that I am ashamed of myself. But I could take photos of everthing from outside. That's not bad, is it? (Sighs)

To tell the truth, the lovely kids I was with were quite enthusiastic while visiting one place in Dublin: the Guinness Storehouse. Oh! And they also found some unexpected energy to run after a football in Phoenix Park! That's all, the rest of the time was ... complaining.

They were at school in the morning, for 3 hours,  and my colleague (sorry, I forgot to tell you we were two teachers!)  and I spent most of that time studying the map and planning activities and visits for the afternoon, which most of the time resulted in a waste of time. Our students always tried to boycot our proposals and when they granted to follow us,  they only wanted to see the places (churches or buildings) from the outside.

Temple Bar 
At school they learnt about Irish history, traditions and culture. They also learnt to sing Molly Malone's song: "Alive alive oh! Alive alive oh! "  They said the lessons were quite interesting and that it was not difficult to follow their  mother-tongue teachers. At least!

It was interesting to read what they had to say in the answers to a questionnaire I assigned them on our return to school. They were all positive and many even wished to go back. They all think it was a memorable experience and are sure it has been useful to improve their language skills. The only one disappointed and negative is ... myself!

May I say, never again? Better not to. I know myself. I know I have to go on travelling with my friends and avoid school trips, but ...Though that's the only way not to face great disappointment, I might do that again. Well,  if I have to go on a school trip again, I will demand the trips and journey commettee that any second of the days in the schedule is planned in detail and paid for before the departure. Or I'll pass. My classes will learn English with me but inside their classrooms. Amen.


Traxy said...

Beautiful photos! It's a shame the students weren't all that interested in the culture and history of the city, because there is so much of it! Maybe you can go back there without the class some time and be able to appreciate it? :) (I think we were slightly better behaved when our French class went to Paris in '98, because we DID want to see the sights and not just shop.)

We were in Dublin for four days in September ... 2005? I was disappointed by how touristy it was, to be honest, and during those four days, we hardly even heard an Irish person talk, because most people in the shops or restaurants were from abroad. We went to the Guinness Storehouse, but I was disappointed because I thought you'd get to see Guinness being brewed and how, and not just see what hops are in a display.

Before the trip, I hadn't checked to see what attractions we "should" visit, which was a mistake. I wanted to see something to do with the Irish struggle for independence, and couldn't find anything ... until we stumbled upon the history museum, which happened to have an Easter Rising exhibition. After we came back, I found a guide book to Ireland in a charity shop, and it said the place we should have gone to (but didn't) was Kilmainham Gaol. We didn't go there, because why would we want to visit a prison? (Because it has lots of history with the independence!!!) The book also said "Dublinia" wasn't worth it - and of course, we had already found that out by going there.

Still, I'd love to go back to Dublin and I'd love to see more of Ireland. I have this idea of going around the 24th of April 2016. :)

Maria Grazia said...

Before going, I read and watched videos about Dublin, I also prepared a lesson on the top-10 attractions for my students. So I knew and they knew what we might visit there (by the way, Kilmainham Gaol was in my list).
But then, once we were there, not all the students were from my class, only a minority. Anyhow, apart from 4 students who followed us teachers inside Trinity College Library or 2 who walked with us to visit the village of Howth, the rest were not interested in much.
As I wrote in my latest book review (Gli Sdraiati, about a father and his teenage son), I found it more and more difficult to work with these young people. I'm so often so disappointed! It's impossible to understand them or to interact with them effectively. There is always something lacking, especially real communication and communion of goals. I want to teach or educate them, most of them don't want to learn or, at least, they expect to learn with very little or no effort.
Tough times for teachers all over the world, I know. I also know that teenagers have always been a very complicated reality to cope with, but now they are simply ... demotivating. Like water (or ice) on the fire of my love for what I do.
I'll go back to Ireland, I hope I will have the chance to see more of the country sooner or later. Unfortunately, I'll never forget my first time there and not for very good reasons.
Thanks, Traxy, for reading and commenting.

Trudy said...

I suppose teenagers are very attuned to the social aspect of everything. It's just that age. But I can't help be worried a little that the coming generations are becoming more insulated and self-consumed, despite all the fabulous tools for connecting and seeing the world at large.
That's the age to be expanding your view, thinking not only inward but outward and wondering about the world and your place in it.
I hate to think no one was ignited to ponder and enjoy the culture around them. Maybe some were, but they choose to act like they were going along with the crowd?
sigh. I feel your frustration.

Maria Grazia said...

Hi Trudy! Thanks for dropping by and reading, as well as for your contribution to the discussion. You are right, there were few (those precious few) who followed us on a few occasions, but when the majority opposed the proposals we couldn't go with them and left the group unwatched. We were responsible for them all at least until 6 p.m., when they were excpected back to their host families for dinner. You are right, to go along with the crowd is one of their favourite sports. There are exceptions, but in this case, the "tyranny of the majority" (see John Stuart Mill), made things quite complicated.
I've seen teenagers during our class exchanges (Belgians they were) to give their back to the Colosseum in Rome, refuse to enter and ask: When are we going to MacDonald's? So you see, it is not only our kids here. Thanks for your sympathy, though :-)

dstoutholcomb said...

Perhaps, later on, they'll remember the trip, and rue the things they didn't see, and go back on their own some day!

May the next time you go be as a tourist, not a teacher! ;)

Maria Grazia said...

Thanks for your comment, dstoutholcomb. I really hope I can go back to Ireland as a tourist soon. But I also hope I can meet different young people on my path, sooner or later :-) Have a very good weekend!

Guylty said...

Hello Maria - I don't think we have communicated yet (?), but I know your name from the fandom, and Linda60 pointed me to your post. I'm "Guylty" and I live in Dublin - and oh, I feel your disappointment. (I am half glad that the disappointment was mainly caused by the lack of interest of your students and not Dublin itself, but still...) I was a teacher a hundred years ago, and I have also acted as guide in Dublin for a group of 18/19 yr old students, so I can see what you had to put up with. Such a pity. Not only for your own missing out on the sights and the feel, but also for the students who happily stay ignorant. Hmph.
I kind of wish I had known your blog and known you were coming. Maybe a cup of tea between two well-wishers would have been fun, with a few tips thrown in in regards to the students. Yeah, the Guinness Storehouse is on everybody's list (overrated and overpriced imo), the two missed cathedrals - ah well, they are great, but it always irks me that you have to pay to get in :-(. But yes, Marsh's Library is beautiful, as is the Long Room in Trinity. So many other sights that are free and well-worth seeing.
Next time you make your way to these shores, get in touch, if you like. Well-wishers of the world unite, you know :-)

Maria Grazia said...

Hello Guylty, nice to make your acquaintance, though only virtually, through my blog. I'd have loved meeting you in Dublin, it would have made the experience less disappointing perhaps.
I've promised myself I'll go back to Dublin and visit more of Ireland in the right company. I always have fun when I travel with my friends, so, next time, it'll be with them. And don't doubt, I liked what I saw very much. I especially appreciated the people we met at school and our host families. They were really nice. Thanks for reading and commenting :-)