“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” St Augustin

School tours have been an integral part of life in Our Lady’s Bower for many years. Gone are the days when the tour groups hauled themselves by ferry and coach to the distant lands of The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland, to name just a few of the places visited, usually all during the one tour!

In recent years, groups have taken to the air, saving time and energy, and single destination tours have replaced the annual European pilgrimage. Students have visited such places as London and Paris on umpteen occasions, as well as Barcelona, Rome and Berlin.

Perhaps the most momentous air trip was post Christmas 1991 when 65 pupils and teachers descended on Leningrad and Moscow. It was in the days before glasnost and perestroika when the Soviet Union was a dark and mysterious place. Just about everything that could go wrong with a trip…did.

From missing lifejackets on the Aeroflot airbus to garlic meatballs for breakfast, this was one steep learning curve. A pupil had her appendix out and the school chaplain was arrested by the KGB for dealing in dollars on the black market to name but two glitches!

These events tend to stick in the mind longer than the beauty of the snowbound Kremlin, the Bolshoi Ballet or the frost rimed Hermitage museum with its Fabergé eggs! Is there anyone out there who remembers the trip?

More recently, students have enjoyed a stimulating week at Space Camp near Brussels in Belgium, an invigorating trip to the ski slopes of Italy or Austria and a poignant visit to a concentration camp near Berlin.

Whatever one’s memories of school, the week spent travelling with classmates always remains a real highlight to be savoured long after the actual event.

Long live school tours.

Some Recent Destinations:

  • 2016 Barcelona Hockey Camp
  • 2015 Second year tour to Paris
  • 2014 Malaga Hockey Camp
  • French Exchange with College Ste Clotilde, Douai
  • 2013 Second year tour to Paris
  • 2012 Cheltenham Hockey Camp
  • French Exchange with College Ste Clotilde, Douai
  • French Exchange with St Jean, Beauvais
  • 2010 Douai French Exchange
  • 2009 Ski Trip to Austria
  • Second Year trip to Venice and Verona
  • TY trip to Berlin
  • 2008 Second Year trip to Paris
  • Space Camp Brussels for TY
  • Ski Trip to Lavarone Italy
  • 2007 Douai French Exchange
  • Second Year trip to Paris
  • Space Camp Brussels for TY
  • Liverpool Hockey Camp

The Douai French exchange has remained a regular feature of the Bower calendar. Second year students are able to spend a week in France, visiting the top tourist attractions of Paris before heading to Douai in the north of France to sample French school and family life.

There are many other constants on the Bower calendar including:

  • Day trip to Knock for 1st yrs
  • Horizon Adventure Centre for TY
  • Ice skating in Dublin for TY and 6th yrs
  • Theatre visits for set plays
  • Field trips for juniors and seniors in geography, art and CSPE

PARIS – Student Accounts

Paris was the place to be that winter. The city hosted three invasions of Bower girls. Transition Year, second and fifth years all brought their own rapporteurs and what follows are the highlights of the three trips.

“The excitement started when 51 Bower girls met in the senior school at three o’clock in the morning, along with the five teachers who turned up on time, Mr Higgins, Ms Donnelly, Ann-Marie, Ms Kavanagh and Ms McCormack, all of whom looked as bright and cheerful as ever! Spirits were high on the journey to Dublin. We arrived at the airport with a student and the one and only French- speaking teacher missing!

After checking in, we all got a fantastic surprise when we saw our transition co-ordinator had sped the whole way to Dublin just to wave us off!! Just as the plane was about to take off Mr Bean, or I mean Mr Behan, made a dramatic entrance, with a guitar in one hand and a boarding pass in the other!”

Sarah Feeney and Claire O Toole’s start to their Paris tour, though dramatic, was not as glamorous as that recounted by Jennifer Finnegan, 2X

“We found some “celebs” from the previous night’s MTV Awards including Geri Haliwell, Puff Daddy, Blur, The Honeyz, Phats and Small. After getting autographs and photographs we prepared ourselves for our next big thrill, “The Flight”, which luckily passed uneventfully.

We went to the Eiffel Tower, and at the very top in freezing weather we saw a man proposing to his girlfriend. What did she say? What do you think? It’s the city of love!

Early starts were a feature of all three excursions. Well after all, there is a lot to see and do in Paris. Emily Seery’s breathless account of a day goes as follows:

“09. 45hrs: Musée D’Orsay. It’s too early for words!

Later: 15.00 hrs: Our tour took us to l’Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysées to the Place de La Concorde, down to the Louvre Museum, famous for the Mona Lisa and other pieces of Art, to the Jardins des Tuileries. All that in one hour. We were already tired”.

Aquaboulevard was the perfect antidote to all the art.. Jennifer tells the story: “On the third day we rose bright, early and full of energy. We were going to splash around in Aquaboulevard. We had a brilliant time and afterwards enjoyed our first taste of real food. Where would you be without Mc Donalds?

That night we headed off to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur. While driving through the “red light district” some people couldn’t keep their cameras still. We walked up many, many steps to the Sacre Coeur and went in and prayed. We went to the Place du Tertre and had portraits and caricatures drawn. On our way back to the bus we got separated into two groups. One ended safely back at the bus, but the other group became lost, with no phones, no phone numbers, and no French. . . oops!!! Eventually, after running up and down many steps we arrived at the bus to find girls, and Mrs. Divilly, who thought we had been abducted. No such luck! Back to the hotel for some very sound sleep.”

All three groups shared the same enthusiasm for Disneyland where even teachers grow young again. “At ten o’clock on a misty morning in November forty hyper teenagers ran through the gates of Disneyland Paris in a burst of energy, to the sounds of songs from Fantasia and other magical Disney films.”

Emily summed it up thus: “Five or six hours of complete and utter fun. Brilliant!”

Sarah concludes: We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the teachers, especially Mr. Higgins, who put in so much time and effort into organising the trip. This was definitely an experience we’ll never forget. We have photographs and souvenirs to help the memories live on, although some of these photographs we wish hadn’t been taken!