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Friday 29 August 2014

Students become tourists for a day

Published 22/05/2014 | 05:26

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Second year students at McEgan College who have just completed a six week writing workshop with Cork poet Gerry Murphy. Gerry has written several anthologies of poetry and has been supporting students in the writing of their own poems. Their work, along with that of students from other West Cork schools is due to be published as an anthology later this year.

The sun shone as a group of McEgan students and their teachers became 'tourists' for a day in the Macroom area.

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Students got to visit local beauty spots, heritage, historical and food tourist site in their own area.

The tour began at the castle gate where students were given a brief history of the castle and an account of Bishop McEgan's life after whom their school is named.

From here the students visited Macroom market, which can be dated back over 300 years to Queen Anne's reign. Gourmet local artisan food products were purchased to taste on a picnic.

Next stop was Walton's Mill, which has been in the same family for over 200 years and still makes its world famous oatmeal in the same traditional way with the addition of electricity as power. Donal Creedon (proprietor) gave students sound business advice and explained how artisan products will never be able to compete with large international companies, but instead need to find a niche market.

From Walton's Mill the group stopped at Bealick Mill and were delighted to be able to visit inside the mill and see first hand the machinery used to grind the grain.

The group then travelled on to The Gearagh, which is the largest alluvial forest in Western Europe and is home to many rare plants and insects.

Mr. Healy (teacher) pointed out the remains of the original Gearagh Bar which in times past did a roaring trade serving townspeople as the law at the time didn't place closing restrictions as it was over three miles from Macroom.

From here the tour went to Toon's Bridge Dairy where local entrepreneurs Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch keep their herd of buffalos and make mozzarella, ricotta and halloumi from the milk.

At the site of the Kilmichael Ambush (1920), as well as learning about the ambush, students got to taste Toon's Bridge Mozzarella with brown bread made from Macroom flour.

After a gourmet picnic, the group, with kind permission, got to visit Carrignacurra Castle outside Inchigeela. The castle is built on the Banks of the River Lee and is an example of a four storey tower house. Students were impressed with the 'machicoulis', which is an opening in the floor through which occupants could drop stones or boiling liquids on any attackers.

The group then enjoyed a delicious lunch in Granvilles. After lunch the tour went to Ballyvourney to see Colaiste Iosagain which was the set used for 'Song for a Raggy Boy'. Students had previously watched the film, and were disappointed that it wasn't open to the public as it is rumoured to have an unhappy ghost!

Then the group travelled to St. Gobnait's House and Well, which is a monastic settlement and can be dated further back to pagan times. On the way home the group stopped at Carrigastya (The Rock of the Stairs) which is a famine graveyard where people were buried in mass graves.

AUTHOR IN RESIDENCE

Meanwhile, second year students at McEgan College have just completed a six week writing workshop with Cork poet Gerry Murphy.

Gerry has written several anthologies of poetry and has been supporting students in the writing of their own poems.

Their work, along with that of students from other West Cork schools is due to be published as an anthology later this year.

Corkman

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