The Zeminar trip was in early October, and was engineered towards “Generation Z” Kids, such as ourselves. We all piled onto buses early Monday morning, and were taken into the RDS for the day.
In the RDS there were hundreds of booths set up from different organizations - ranging from the GAA clubs to RTÉ to the Dáil. There were kahoots at some stalls, and myself and my friends got very competitive at some of them. I was walking around with Rey and Oísin, and Oísin spotted a reaction time game. There were large red buttons on a wall, and it was a timed match to see who had the quickest reaction time and how many they could hit in under sixty seconds. Oísin absolutely trashed Rey, and left the area looking smug.
Outside the RDS at the back, there were food trucks selling burgers and chips, but also an Insomnia truck that sold coffee, tea and sandwiches. Most of the students came back here for lunch, but the benches filled up quickly and I ended up sitting on the wet grass with a jacket underneath me.
There were multiple guest speakers during the day, but I only attended three off them as I wanted to have time to get around to all of the other exhibits. Mary Kate Slattery was the first to speak on stage, and she told us about how she suffered from anorexia nervosa, her recovery and how meditation and mindfulness has helped her. She had taken a month out of her busy schedule as a professional boxer to stay in a remote village in the Amazon rainforest with no phone, no WiFi, no one else to talk to as she wanted to get back in touch with her own mind and body.
The next gentleman to speak began by telling us a story of his parents. They wanted a multilingual child, and so they sent him to a French primary school. He wasn’t French, but he grew up speaking the language in Ireland, which he used to resent. As he grew older, however, he realized how much of a skill it is to be able to communicate fluently in another language other than English. He was a professional wakeboarder, and had recently released his own brand of board. Being able to communicate in French meant that he had the ability to explain manufacturing details to suppliers all over the globe, not just in Europe and America.
Finally, the last to speak was a man named Paddy, a typical Irish ginger with the accent to match. Once I could figure out exactly what he was saying, my jaw was nearly on the floor. He told us about something he called “social camouflage”, or trying to blend in to the crowd. Everyone is either a Sheep or a Shepherd, is what he told us, and that means you either follow or are followed. Social camouflage is girls trying to fit the Societal Standard of Beauty i.e. being skinny, tall, etc. It's guys trying to be more masculine and tough. It’s people trying to fit in with what’s “trendy” and with the popular crew. Paddy told us that this is what the chimp in us wants to do, it wants to obey the more powerful primate or the one who seems to be more in control. What we need to do is take that control for ourselves, take control of our own lives of what we do, what we wear, what we say, and who to. We should never let social camouflage dictate who we are as a person.
I left that talk feeling quite inspired, and ready to take on the world.
Before we left for school again, Rey, Aoife, Faye, Ava, Deirdrei and Adam decided to take part in the songwriting workshop in the wellbeing room. I was put into a group with Aoife, Adam and a girl from a different school called Katie. We all started off by reading out last text out, and using them for inspiration. My group got given the text “Welcome to my second home”, which was actually sent by Adam to someone as the National Aquatic Centre is where he trains for water polo.
As both myself and Aoife have a background in music, her playing the violin and me playing the piano, we had a fair idea of what kind of key we wanted and what harmonies would sound good with specifics. However, we fell in hard when it came time to actually write lyrics. I used to write poetry all the time, but I could never get it to rhyme without it sounding like a second class child wrote it. We were all floundering, and what we eventually ended up with was a verse and a chorus of this angsty, Billie Eilish-sounding song.
When it came time to show what the different groups had come up with, we all had a great laugh. Deirdrei’s group had been given “thanks bro”, and managed to come up with something that was incredibly weird but also somehow incredibly catchy. Ava and her group had created a Dodie-esque song, which I could definitely imagine putting on my playlist. Faye’s group had “oopsies”, and their song kinda went off on a tangent, raging about spilt milk.
All in all, the songwriting workshop was the highlight of the day, but the guest speakers were incredibly insightful and interesting. I would highly recommend the Zeminar to the next TY year group.
The Explorium is a science exhibition in Dublin, which TY students were offered to attend as a part of Science Week. The bus left Pipers Hill at half eight, and I nearly missed it because it completely slipped my mind that we were leaving earlier than 9 o’clock. The only reason why I made it on time was that Faye came over to me at 8 o'clock asking if we needed to wear our uniform or not. Luckily I did make it in time, but only just.
The bus journey up was quiet enough, as I think a lot of people were still asleep and/or listening to music on their headphones, I know I definitely was. As we pulled up to the building just across from the National Aquatic Centre, I knew that I had to wake myself up, but my limbs still protested. After nearly falling down the bus stairs due to a dead leg that I was sitting on, I entered the building with my group of friends. Inside, we were brought into a little room in which we were allowed to leave our bags, coats and any other personal belongings we didn't want to bring around with us on the day. We were split into two groups, but not based on class so it was nice that I was able to stay with my friends. The group two stickers were printed upside down which was pretty funny though.
My group and I were first taken to the lightning room, upstairs and down a little corridor. Before we were allowed to go into the room, we were all handed a pair of red earmuffs called “ear defenders” to protect our eardrums from the sound that the artificial lightning would create. The girl who was running the presentation warned us not to take off our ear defenders for ANY reason, as the lightning would break the sound barrier and create a noise so loud it had the same decibel range as a jet engine taking off right beside you. I think that scared quite a lot of us, as when she was about to begin the demonstration, everyone took a great big step back from the barrier The lightning was created using concentrated electricity and Tesla Coils, an invention made by Nicholas Tesla. Originally, Tesla had planned to use these coils to bring electricity to the common people, not just the rich and wealthy. However, when he told investors that he didn’t want to make people pay for this electricity in their homes, they all shunned his idea and work.
In the Explorium, as technology has advanced so much, they were actually able to control the sound which the lightning made as it bounced off the Tesla Coils. They actually played the Pirates of the Carribbean theme song, which was so impressive. I was definitely left in awe, if not a little deaf from that room.
After the demonstration, we were free to roam about the displays and different rooms. There were many different exhibits, from heat sensors and how cobras find their prey with bad eyesight in the dark, memory games and passages that only remain open for a certain time, to physical tests like how long you could hang from a weighted bar and a speed test for a 10 metre sprint. There were pressure-pumped powered cars that you could race against each other, and a white, glowing dome that when you stepped inside it blocked all the noise from outside.
Lauren, Mihaela, Megan and I had a battle of solar power, on one particular game. There was a solar powered car in the middle of a track, and on either side there was a green button to turn on a lamp and a mirror to reflect this light onto the car. This game lasted for at least fifteen minutes, and people kept having to tag out from rapidly smacking this green button as after about 30 seconds your hands started to cramp up.
We were called down to the main hall after about an hour of exploring, to have some lunch and take a break from the science exhibits. There were limited options food-wise, but luckily they offered chips and pizza, things that were guaranteed to go down well with a large crowd of teenagers. As we ate and chatted, we finally had a chance to take a breather from the constant go-go-go of the day.
Nearby, there was an air-foosball table, with styrofoam balls. The seats were actually air pumps connected to air cannons, and you placed a ball in front of the cannon, sat down harshly on the seat and it would blow the ball away, hopefully into the opposing teams’ goal. Beside it, there was a bed of nails! People were given the opportunity to lie down on a flat surface, and then a staff member would engage the table and hundreds of nails would push the person up and off the surface they were lying on. Because their weight was evenly proportioned across all the nails, the person wouldn't get impaled, but they were warned not to move or else they would run the risk.
We were taken into a little room after lunch, and given a presentation by a staff member called Amy. the topic was Climate Change or Climate Action to reflect on Science Week, and before beginning she informed us about the effects of global warming and what exactly we can do to help prevent it. Obviously one person doing something isn't going to change the world, she told us, but if everyone did little things then it can make a big difference. Amy did different experiments with us there, like showing how cold and hot water actually can't mix, or how a tornado can be replicated in a water bottle. She also showed us the effects of CO2 being trapped in the Ozone layer, with a vitamin C tablet and some water.
There was a little coffee shop nearby, called “Bean”, which myself and my friends that was adorable. They had really good coffee as well, good enough to sustain my coffee addiction for another few hours at least! After we had eaten, we were allowed to go exploring the upper floors again, and we discovered a TV news anchor set which gave absolutely hilarious photo opportunities. I dont think id laughed so hard in ages.
As we were boarding the bus to go home, I slipped up the steps and bashed my knee off the chair beside me. Not my finest moment, but at least it was amusing to my friends. Halfway back to the school, the bus needed to stop for petrol, and so we were allowed to get off and grab some food or something to drink from the rest stop nearby.
All in all, the Explorium was absolutely amazing, and I would definitely love to go back again.
The first aid course was over the period of 3 classes, and during it we learnt how to perform CPR and how to apply basic bandages to staunch bleeding until an ambulance arrives. The course was taught by two paramedics who had come into the school with training gear from when they learnt.
First of all, we were told to respect the equipment as it wasnt cheap and they only had a certain amount of it. There were dummies lying in front of each chair in a circle, which looked kind of terrifying i'm not going to lie, as none of them had arms or legs. It was just a torso and a head, which was unnerving to say the least. We watched a short video which demonstrated how to correctly administer chest compressions, and then took turns to try it on the dummy. I didn't know how hard you had to press on someone’s chest in order to actually compress the lungs, or how difficult it was to give breath when we were allowed to tilt the dummy’s head back and try that either.
After the break, we also got to practice using a defibrillator, and where we could find one in the school. We were told how to apply the shock pads and how to use the machine effectively, quickly and safely. The number one rule of first aid we were told, is making sure that you yourself doesn’t sustain any injuries or come to any harm, as then there are two patients to tend to instead of one.
We were taught how to wrap different bandages to protect wounds on different parts of the body such as a wrist, palm or head injury. The training was hugely beneficial to all of us students, and I really enjoyed it.
The Forensic workshop was run by an Australian woman in the gym hall. It took a little under 2 hours to complete, and was based on the JFK murder. She had set up a whole wall of posters on the topic, and handed us all out three sheets once we had all settled down in front of the board. Stationed around the room were different activities, and at one - a board game.
As some people werent completely aware of the exact events of the JFK murder - myself included - she gave us a quick run down of the general sequence of events that occured. She told us that according to the ‘official’ records, only 3 bullets had been fired, all from the rooftop of a nearby building. One of these bullets was dubbed the ‘magic bullet’ as it appeared to change its course of direction three times to hit a passenger in three different places.
After the brief run down, we split into groups and moved around the room from each activity. In the top right hand corner, there were VR headsets playing a digitally made video of the shooting. Along that wall, there were also stations where we could take our own fingerprints and compare them to the different patterns, as well as some information on the unidentified fingerprints found on the rooftop from where the bullets were fired from.
Moving on, there was a station discussing gunpowder residue and how it can be found on the hands, face and neck when a person fires a gun. However, the test to check for the residue can also mistakenly come up positive for makeup, urine and other substances like tobacco.
At the end of the gym hall, there were two cases - one filled with bullet casings and talking about the three different types of cases and the damage each could cause. For instance, a smaller casing has a small entry hole and only a slightly bigger exit wound, while a larger casing has a big entry and a very large exit wound. In the other case, there were replicas of the items found in Lee Havey Oswald’s pockets upon his arrest. Oswald was the man accused of firing the shots that killed JFK. within the items, there were curious things such as a bank statement and his military identification. It was later discovered that Oswald was associated with the Soviets and was planning to flee to Russia.
On the other wall, there were videos playing discussing the ‘magic bullet’ and how it was asctually plausible. Because of the shape of the car JFK and company were travelling in, the front passenger seat was actually moved lower and to the left, making the trajectory of that second bullet fired a straight line, instead of the zig zag it was originally thought to be.
Down in the top left hand corner, there were two boards against the wall with different conspiracy theories about what could have happened if the official reports had been faked like many people believe them to be. There is only one video of the event, although two were taken. A lady known as the Babushka Lady also took a video, but after being contacted by the CIA - disappeared. The Zapruder film is the only evidence of the assination that the public has access to, as the American archives has yet to release any more information for general viewing. Other conspiracy theories surrounding the Vice president and oil rig owners - the two were involved in tax evasion scandals due to be published in the news the following week. The ‘Umbrella Man’ is believed to be a signal for when the car entered the firing range of the shooter, and a potential second shooter is believed to have been present and firing from ground level after another look.
The board game and the back of the hall was about the murder of J.D. Tippit, also concluded to be by Lee Harvey Oswald on the very same day of the JFK assination. After apparently shooting and killing JFK, Oswald got on a bus to his own home, collected his belongings and shot Tippit downtown before fleeing. He was later captured and taken into custody, where he was shot the next day by Jack Ruby. however, the official recorded events and eye witness statements don't add up, as you'll see on the sheet attached. The Warren Commission needed a scapegoat, and who better but the man who they claimed had already shot the president. The workshop was really interesting and I would love to do something like it again.
The instructor - named Shay - who came in to run the workshop was very nice and bubbly, a cheerful man who made the two classes pass by in an instant. We all took turns on 4 different instruments - a small, circular handheld drum not unsimilar to a tambourine, a larger, cylindrical drum that you held between your legs, a rasta shaker and a wooden block. The number one rule of the class was to bounce your hand off the drum, don't slam it down and leave it there as it dulls the sound.
We started off with basic patterns like 1,2,1,2 and so forth, and over an hour and a half progressed to more complex rhythms like ‘coffee coffee tea’ and ‘cha-cha-cha’. After we had had a little time to get used to the instruments, Shay then asked a few people to try and make up their own rhythm. Most people managed very well with being put on the spot. however I definitely didn't.I just started to bang on the drum aimlessly. Not one of my finest moments, I agree.
The workshop was short but good fun, and I’d hope that next year in music we continue to do samba drumming as I really enjoyed it.
The drive for life workshop, was something I feel not many people enjoyed at all. I found it to be scaremongering, and unnecessarily graphic. We received no prior warning on the gore that we would be viewing over the 5 hour day, and myself and the majority of my peers found it incredibly upsetting and disconcerting.
Many of my friends felt sick to their stomach after only two hours of the videos Pat McNeely showed us, and were considering asking to be excused when they found the info-graphics too unsettling. During the day, yes I did gain a much better understanding of car safety, what not to do and what actually occurs in a car crash, as well as what the safety mechanisms in a car actually protect us from, but I also was extremely upset by the graphic nature of a lot of the pictures and videos shown to us.
At the end of the day, I would severely question the necessity of the level of graphic pictures shown to us as young students, and I can in complete honesty say that I would never sit through it again even if you paid me.
Our TY bonding trip to Carlingford Adventure Centre took place on the 30th of September and the 1st of October. After waking up at 6am to be at the school for an early 7:15am departure on 3 separate buses, we were all separated into groups of two classes. The hour and a half bus journey was filled with fun, laughter and a lot of noise. Once we had arrived at the adventure centre, we were all regrouped however, and I managed to jog ahead to catch up with my friends.
We were split up into three groups once we all regrouped at the centre. Our first activity was canoeing, and we took a short walk down to the pier after leaving our bags inside the canteen. Once at the pier, we were given a wetsuit - which to much displeasure we found to be still wet and cold from the day before. Pulling on a sticky and slimy wetsuit in a cold room was not the most pleasant of experiences, but once we had them on, an instructor gave us a bright yellow helmet and a life jacket to wear as well. Mr. Foley had told us all beforehand to bring an old pair of shoes to wear into the water, and so with water squelching in my runners, I walked over to collect my canoe. Before we were allowed to get into the canoe, an instructor brought us over to the pier’s edge. From which we jumped. Into the freezing cold water.
I originally refused to jump. That is, until I saw every single one of my friends jumping and I didn't want to be left out. So, I asked Lauren would she jump with me, and she agreed because she's a wonderful person and definitely didn’t push me in when I was about to flake out. No. not at all. When my head resurfaced, I was gasping for breath. Once I had climbed out of the icy water, I was shivering and had to wrap my arms around my middle to try and retain what little body heat I had left.
Once we had gotten into our canoes and pushed off into the water, it wasn't smooth sailing. Within the space of 10 minutes, Deirdrei and Faye had nearly crashed into myself and Rey twice, and paddling in time with each other was still proving a challenge for us both. Out in the middle of the pier, there was a little floating island that we all tied our canoes to and clambered onto it most ungracefully. From there, we were allowed to jump onto a floating trampoline - 6 people at a time - and into the water again.
Once everyone had jumped off the trampoline, and we were all sufficiently freezing yet again, we boarded our canoes and paddled back to the shore. Pulling the heavy canoe up the bank and back to the store room was probably the hardest part of the entire activity as it kept bashing against my legs when I walked.
Getting changed out of the wetsuit was like heaven on earth, as I was absolutely hypothermic at this point and the changing rooms had warm showers in them. I think I spent about 10 minutes just standing under the hot water after peeling the wetsuit off of myself. We then had to find the instructor who had taken our glasses for safekeeping - as he had left halfway during our activity and hadn't told us where he had put our glasses. Luckily for us, another instructor had seen him put them down in the storeroom on a shelf, and they were returned to us after a brief search.
The trek back up the hill was harder than the walk down, as by now we were all tired and hungry and cold - but still in good spirits. Upon reaching the adventure centre again, we were all brought back to the canteen for some lunch - a mismatch of food including chips, assorted vegetables, rice, hard-boiled eggs, sausages and bread. Food to cater for all diets I guess, but still an odd selection. However, I think very few people complained, and we all tucked into the food, grateful for something warm after the chill of the water.
We then had about a half hour of free time, in which we were assigned our bedrooms before being whisked off to our next activity.
The walk up to the skypark was on a skinny, single lane road and every time a car passed we all had to move into the right to allow it passed. During this time, it had begun to rain, and I had given my light rain jacket to Deirdrei as I still had Mr. Cullen’s heavy coat and she had left her own behind in the dorm. The rain was lashing at this point, but we ventured forth, praying silently that it would stop soon.
Infact, it rained for the rest of the day, but when we arrived to the skypark, we were harnessed up all the same and given helmets like the canoeing before. I opted to join the Jacob’s Ladder team, and moved over to the left when the instructors gave us a choice.
At Jacob’s Ladder, you worked in teams of three. One person would climb the ladder, buckled in and secure. That is, as long as person 2 kept pulling on their rope looped through the top to keep it taught and person 3 kept it taught at ground level. Should person 2 or 3 fail to keep the rope taught, then if person 1 fell, they would get a lot closer to the ground than comfortable. I very nearly decided against climbing the ladder altogether, especially after I realised that my friend group was a group of 4, and I was put with two other lads I didn't know at all. If I could barely trust Fae, Deirdrei or Faye to hold me up, how on earth was I meant to trust two random lads? The answer was, I didn't. After a moment, Rey joined my group as well, and he ended up being person 2 for me so I was still terrified but less so when my turn to climb the ladder. I think I made it to the 4th rung out of 7 before I threw in the towel, and came back down - which for a person with a fear of heights I think of as fairly good. I watched other people make it to the top however, and to be honest I am in awe of these spider-people.
At this point it was 4 o’clock, and my mother was pulling up to the parking lot to collect myself and Lauren. We had a dress rehearsal with our troupe back in Monread at 7pm, and needed time to do our hair, make-up and costumes before then.
All in all, despite missing half of the trip I had such an amazing time, and would definitely recommend the trip to any incoming TYs.
Here you'll find all the up-to-date information on our recent trips, be it either reviews by our admins and fellow students or simply pictures of the day.