On Tuesday 14th, Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th of April, the First Years went on a day long Geography field trip to Mitchelstown Caves and Griston Bog. Elm and Oak went on Tuesday, Ash and Hazel on the Wednesday and Scots Pine and Yew on Thursday. They were accompanied by Mr. Ryan, Mrs Faust, Ms. Nevin, Mr McMahon, Ms. Kemp, Ms. Kearney and Ms. Deegan over the three days.
Each day the group left school at 10am and headed for Mitchelstown Caves between Mitchelstown and Cahir. They were met there by their guide, Gemma, who led them down the 88 steps into the caves, She stopped in the passageway on route to the first cavern, to point out the water marks of the river that used to flow from the Galtee Mountains through the limestone cave. She also showed the students very small stalactites that took a thousand years to grow 2cm in length. Then the group moved on to the first cavern. Here Gemma explained how much larger the caves are but the public cannot go through the smaller passageways due to Health and Safety regulations. She showed the students some ‘images’ on the walls, which took a little imagination to see, especially the image of Elvis! She then turned off the lights to give the students a sense of what it is like in the cave in the dark. Needless to say, they all screamed hysterically until she turned them back on!
The group then moved onto the next cavern where Gemma pointed out a large stalagmite and a curtain called The Eagle’s Wing. Finally, the group went into the back cavern where the students saw a pillar called The Tower of Babel. Many thought that this looked like a swan or a dragon. They also saw a smaller pillar called The Leaning Tower of Pisa before heading up onto the ‘stage’ at the back of the cavern. Here Gemma explained that the Caves often hold concerts where an audience of about 100 people sit and enjoy music. She said because the air is so pure in the caves that the sound travels beautifully through the cave. She asked if anyone would like to sing and, as it was Mr. Ryan’s 40th birthday on one of the days, the children sang Happy Birthday to him!!!! We also had some nice singers from Oak and Hazel, so well done to those who gave us a song!
As this was the end of the tour, we all thanked Gemma and headed back out into the sunshine. In the seating area outside of Mitchelstown Caves, we sat and had a picnic lunch overlooking the Galtee Mountains. The students completed a worksheet about the caves before getting back on the bus. We then headed to Griston Bog, just outside Ballylanders. We had hoped to go to Glengarra woods for a river walk but there is no access to the public at the moment due to water works.
Arriving at Griston Bog at 1.30, the students were given a tour of the Wildlife Sanctuary by their teachers. Owned and established by the Lazy Dog Shooting Club, Griston Bog is now working in partnership with the Ballyhoura Development Group and has the additional function of an Outdoor Classroom. Children can come to study the wildlife and plants here, as well as meet up with the guests at the Bug Hotel! There is also a large pond which supports ducks, swans, water hens and other birds, along with some fish. The bog has many wooden walkways, fully equipped with benches to sit and enjoy the beauty of the Sanctuary.