His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey11

A People to People Celtic Cultures Journey

written by Julie Cohn

On June 10th, Nick hugged us goodbye, grabbed his suitcase and backpack, and walked through security for the journey of a lifetime  with 37 other delegates, to go to Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England.  Today, he is ten days into his journey, and the things he and his group have seen and done are more than some people do in a lifetime.  This is a People to People Celtic Cultures Journey…

People to People Celtic Cultures Journey

Day 1: Travel Day

Today was a travel day for the delegation.  They traveled from Phoenix to the East coast, then caught a connecting flight to Edinburgh.  This was a long day for them, as they met at the airport at 3 a.m. and arrived in Edinburgh at 5:30 a.m. the following morning-more than 18 hours of travel time!

Day 2: Edinburgh, Scotland

The group arrived in Edinburgh, and hit the ground running.  They visited the old town of Edinburgh, a UNESCO world site.  They toured Edinburgh Castle, a medieval royal residence from the 12th through the 17th century, with evidence of settlement dating back to the Bronze age.  They also enjoyed a Royal Mile Murder mystery.

Day 3:  Edinburgh, Scotland

The group visited one of Scotland’s most famous golfing academies, Elmwood College, learning basics from a golf pro.  Next, they toured St. Andrews golf course, one of the oldest golf courses in the world.  They met with students from the University of St. Andrew’s, the third oldest English speaking university in the world.  The delegation also made a stop at West Beach, one of Scotland’s best beaches, and the site of “that” famous scene in the movie Chariots of Fire.

His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey1

Photo by Julie Donick

Day 4:  Eviemore, Scotland

Today was adventure-packed with a white water rafting trip on the River Tay.  While on the river, they drifted past J.K. Rowlings house.  In the evening, the group learned about the life of an ancient Scottish highland warrior, complete with kilts, clans, and sword fights.

His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey9

Day 5:  Loch Ness, Scotland

Did they see Nessie?  The People to People ambassadors traveled to Cairngorm and Loch Ness, taking a boat out to search for the Loch’s most famous “resident”, Nessie. They spent the afternoon at a traditional Scottish farm, where they learned about sheep shearing and training sheep dogs.  They also participated in Highland games with a Highland chieftain, and toured a Highland Folk museum.

His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey12

Photo by Nick Cohn

Day 6:  Stirling, Scotland

Today the delegation traveled to the medieval town of Stirling, Scotland.  William Wallace (Braveheart) fought the British at Stirling Bridge, and spurred on the idea of an independent Scotland, so the packed a lot of history into this day.   They also toured Stirling Castle, a former Scottish royal residence, where many Scottish Kings (and Queens) were crowned.

Day 7: Northern Ireland

The group left Scotland and took a ferry to Northern Ireland.  Here, they visited Belfast, where they learned about “The Troubles” between the Irish nationalists and the British unionists.  They spent time at the Peace Wall, a wall which separated the nationalist and unionist neighborhoods.  They also learned about the Good Friday agreement that created peace for the people of this area.  Today was an emotional day for the group, as the remnants of war are still evident in this part of Ireland.

His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey11

Photo by Julie Donick

Day 8: Belfast, Northern Ireland

The group walked a narrow rope bridge called Carrick-A-Rede (Rock in the Road), over a chasm 85 feet deep and 65 feet wide.  This bridge is used by salmon fisherman, who for 350 years have used it to check their nets.  They also trekked to Giants Causeway, an area of about 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns, created from a volcanic eruption.  Giants Causeway is a World Heritage site.  Later in the day the group visited a Belfast school, where they interacted with school children, learned about life in Northern Ireland, and brought the students books they carried with them from the United States.

His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey18

Photo by Nick Cohn

Day 9:  Dublin, Ireland

The group traveled to Dublin, visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Phoenix Park, Trinity College, and the city of Dublin.  The students spent the night with local host families tonight (in groups of 2-3 students per family), getting to learn, firsthand, about family life in Ireland.

Day 10:  Dublin, Ireland

The delegation explored more of Dublin, leaving their host families for the day.  The participated in a game of Gaelic football and hurling at the Gaelic Athletic Association museum.  They also had some free time in the afternoon to shop at Dublin’s main shopping district.  In the evening, they returned to spend dinner and overnight with their host families.

Day 11: Cahersiveen, Ireland

The group said goodbye to their host families and traveled to Bunratty Castle (meaning Castle at the mouth of the Ratty), one of the oldest sites in all of Ireland.  This area started as a viking settlement, but the current castle (one of four built on the same land) was built in the 15th century, and restored in the 1950’s.  They spent time in the rural village of Folk Park, across from the castle, then spent the night in Cahersiveen, Ireland.

Day 12:  Cahersiveen, Ireland

Today the delegation participated in a day of service, working in the peat fields alongside Kerry Diocesan youth cutting peat, which will later be used as fuel once dried.   They also prepared and delivered meals to the elderly.  Later, they learned about the local history of Cahersiveen, made famous by Daniel O’Connell, a 19th century politician who championed the Catholic emancipation cause.  In the evening they participated in ceili, a celebration of Irish music and dancing, and enjoyed a traditional Irish meal.

Day 13:  Gap of Dunloe/Lakes of Killarney

The students traveled through the Gap of Dunloe today, visiting Lord Brandon’s cottage, and sailing across the Lakes of Killarney.

Day 14: Travel to Wales

Today the students travel by ferry from Ireland to Wales, with a stop at George Stephenson’s iron bridge, and a visit to the town with the longest train station name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch!

His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey16

Photo by Julie Donick

Day 15: Bangor, Wales

The delegates were challenged like never before with a trip to Penrhyn Castle, an old Welsh ice castle, where they went to the top, then rappelled 75 feet to the ground!

Day 16: Chester, England

Delegates learned the history of Chester, a historic Roman town founded as a Roman fort in AD79 by the Roman Legio II Adiutrix.  Students learned the ancient art of sword fighting and how to fire a trebuchet (catapult) at the medieval castle of Warwick Castle. Hopefully none of the students wound up in the dungeon!

Day 17:  London, England

Today’s adventures included a guided tour of the city with a blue badge guide, with visits to Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Palace of Westminster, London Eye, and Big Ben.

His People to People Celtic Cultures Journey20

Photo by Nick Cohn

Day 18: London, England

Delegates got dressed up today for a private meeting with a member of Parliament to learn about the British constitution, European Union,  House of Lords, British monarchy, and House of Commons.  Students also attended the prestigious London School of Economics, enjoyed a medieval lunch, tour the Tower of London, meet the Yoeman Warders (Beefeaters), cruised the River Thames, and saw Wicked on London’s West End.

Day 19: Departure Day

Students departed from London Heathrow for the United States.  I joined my son in London so we could continue our tour of Great Britain, so he did not travel back with the other students.

Final Thoughts

My sons People to People Celtic Cultures journey taught him firsthand about the history and culture of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. They were awed by beautiful natural treasures and breathtaking scenery of these countries.  They spent time with an Irish family learning about their way of life, including schooling and culinary habits.  They played a part in a day of service for an Irish community by digging and cutting for peat. They tested the limits of their endurance through white water rafting, rappelling down a castle, and trying local cuisines.  They made fast friends with their fellow delegates, and memories they will treasure for a lifetime.

We only heard from Nick a few times by text after he left, but his smiling face in photos the teacher leaders shared were proof that he was happy, healthy, and having the time of his life.  We could not ask for anything more from this experience!   If you want to know more, find out how Nick prepared for this People to People Journey, meet one of the People to People teacher leaders and read Nick’s thoughts on Ireland.

{Disclosure:  People to People Ambassador Programs is sponsoring my son’s trip and I am serving as a Special Ambassador Correspondent to share his experience. Opinions expressed here are my own.}

For more information about the People to People Ambassador programs, please visit their website and their blog.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

You may also like


Amber 06/23/2014 at 1:18 pm

This trip looks amazing, they really seem to take advantage of every second! How awesome is it that Nick has been so good about keeping you in the loop. I have a feeling that I’d be lucky to get one phone call from my kids. Fav pic…that bridge, EEK!

Kelly D. 06/23/2014 at 11:14 pm

Absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to read more about his journey. My cousins husband used to work at St. Andrews College. I have not had the pleasure of traveling, but Scotland and Ireland are at the top of my list.


Leave a Reply