The sixth class pupils from Gortskehy NS had a once in a lifetime trip over Easter when they visited France as part of their EU Comenius programme. The children visited the Eiffel Tower and magnificent Palace of Versailles. They were welcomed by the Irish ambassador to France Mr Paul Kavanagh and his wife Rosaleen before being given a tour of the Irish embassy by Ms Megan Laffan, Cultural Attache. They also walked the famous Champs Elysees and saw Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, before leaving for Strasbourg by TGV.
Hoenheim in Strasbourg is the home of Gortskehy's partner school. It lies just five kilometres from the German border and the children joined Ms Wendenbaum's class on a trip to the Maginot Line - a series of fortresses and defences built along the French border with Germany between 1930 and 1935 to prevent a German invasion. Later, the Gortskehy pupils took part in Easter art activities and games with their French counterparts and completed a 'Best Friends Album' which is one of the joint projects among the seven partner schools involved in the Comenius programme.
Strasbourg lies in the province of Alsace and the French children performed some traditional local songs and dances. The Hoenheim pupils had also studied the rules of Gaelic football on YouTube and a game was held at the local stadium where parents, teachers and school children cheered on both teams. The match ended in a draw.
The children were given a tour of the European Parliament which was facilitated by Marian Harkin, MEP, and the pupils were the first Irish group to tour the Parliament this year. They were also welcomed to the European Court of Human Rights by Ms Anne Power, Ireland's representative judge. She explained her role, the role of the court and gave the children a tour of the main chamber.
On the day of departure the children were presented with gifts and the parents hosted a feast of local dishes. Mr Vincent Debes, the Mayor of Hoenheim addressed the gathering and referred to the historical links between France and Ireland. He was delighted to be the first Mayor to welcome a group of Irish pupils to Hoenheim in Strasbourg.
The trip was funded under the EU Comenius Programme and proved a great experience for the children who travelled by car, plane, bus, metro, RER train, TGV, tram, coach boat and taxi while also walking a lot. The children were accompanied by their teacher Padraig Beirne and parent Sandra Hession. A lovely welcoming party of parents and siblings greeted the pupils on their return to Knock airport. It was a trip which fostered memories that will be cherished for many years to come.