by Lauren Fahy

 Ballinrobe 3rd Year Foroige

On the 1st December 2017 I, a member of Ballinrobe 3rd Year Foroige Club, braved the Irish weather, took to the coast of Mayo and had the most fun I’ve had in a very long time.  This was a trip we had been planning for a good while, especially the surfing.  It was to be known as “Digital Detox” – a complete break from wifi, phones etc.  An overnight stay was more than we had ever expected, and a night on an island exceeded it again.  A forty minute bus ride behind us, five leaders and eighteen 3rd year girls unloaded into Louisburgh to gather supplies for the cold adventure ahead.  Sweets, biscuits, crisps, popcorn and most importantly logs for our fire were some of the many things accumulated.  We loaded up on the bus again and continued to our first destination – Carrowniskey beach.

The waves crashed and our teeth chattered from the cold or excitement I’m not quite sure.  We pulled off our layers, grabbed the wetsuits and shoes and gathered for a debriefing.  We were told the do’s and don’ts of surfing, to have fun and to try and catch as many waves as possible.  We hit the water and the shrieks began, some laughter and some cries of shock.  I’ve never laughed as much and the encouragement and admiration for each other made the experience so much better.  The odd “Well done!” and “I can’t believe you did that” could be heard from underneath the brutally huge waves.  One hour in the water was enough for some, but it was time to leave anyway.  The ferry was leaving soon and we could not be late.

On the bus again to stop number two.  The ferry port at Roonagh Pier.  Up parked the bus, our bags on our backs, others being wheeled behind us.  The bitter wind added an extra skip to our steps and we were on edge with excitement.  A kind man held our hands as we climbed aboard.  Our guitars were handled with such care – knowing the job we had for them later.  A head count made sure all were present and then off we sailed.  The mere 30 minutes sailing flew by.  Songs were sang and pictures were taken as we watched the lights from the dock disappear.

We arrived on Clare Island in the pitch black, a friendly man collected all our bags and gear in his jeep at the pier and directed us on our way to the hostel.  We laughed and laughed as we searched for our place to sleep.  A ten minute walk was all it took.  We unloaded the jeep outside the hostel and piled into the reception.  Split into groups of 6, rooms were assigned and beds were chosen.  Doors swung open and stayed that way as everyone was free to roam from room to room.  We scouted out the place and made account of all the important rooms, such as the common room (where we would later spend most of our night) and the dining room (where we received some of the nicest homeliest food ever).  We were summoned for dinner about an hour later and everyone tucked in – meat lovers and vegetarians we were all catered for!  After dinner the real fun began.  The owner gave us a place to watch the The Late Late Toys Show and the popcorn was made.  Hot chocolate was later provided by our leaders – everything was just right.  The night then consisted of card games, sing alongs and chit chat.  The laughter rung throughout the hostel.  Nobody cared what we looked like and we loved it that way.  We wandered around in our pyjamas and slippers with not a care in the world until an ungodly hour when our eyes could no longer stay open.

9.30am, the next morning “Rise and Shine”.  It all began again.  Laughter and pyjamas – breakfast was served – and only then did we properly awake.  Tracky bottoms and Foroige hoodies was the outfit of choice.  Rooms were tidied and bags packed.  We headed for the hills.  When on Clare Island one must do some of the mandatory historical sites and off we went to visit Grainne O Malleys’ burial site – or so they say!  That done we headed back to the hostel where lunch was served.  A couple of card games later  and we headed back out – some on another hike and others merely to the beach, where we drew pictures in the sand, sang songs, played football, had piggy back races and dipped our toes in.

The time had come to depart and more time we wished we had.  Bags loaded again we walked down the hill for the last time.  Our boat home awaited us.  It was still bright this time and the ferry trip indulged our love for the amazing scenery.  I sat on the top deck with all my friends and said farewell to Clare Island and one of the best two days of my life.


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