On Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th December 2019, the two 5th classes headed to town on the 54A bus. Ms. Smith`s class went on the Tuesday and Ms. Barron`s on the Wednesday. Luckily there was enough room for everyone on the bus each day. The bus took us directly to the city centre.
We got off in D` Olier St. and spotted Trinity College ahead of us. Strolling down Grafton St., we admired the Christmas lights. We headed up to Stephens Green and took two left turns which brought us to Merrion Square where the National Art Gallery is. We saw many famous paintings, some of which we remember from our research on world famous painting masterpieces. The winners of the Zurich Young Portrait Prize 2019 were exhibited in the Millennium Wing Studio. There were amazing portraits drawn by artists from 3 to 17 years of age, we all got to draw a little picture on a post-it and stick it up on the wall!
From there we walked to Kildare St. and on the Tuesday, we noticed a protest outside Leinster House! It was a protest against the new bingo laws and lots of the people there were holding posters that said “ SAVE OUR BINGO!” When we walked through the gates we were welcomed by Fianna Fáil Senator Catherine Ardagh. At that stage each class was introduced to their guides. Eoin was the guide for Ms. Smith`s class and Eamonn was the guide for Ms. Barron`s class
Our guides took us to the Dáil chambers. On our way, Samantha Long ( Joni’s mam) and Carl Duff (Hannah-Rose`s dad) introduced themselves and chatted with us for a few minutes about the Dáil. The Dáil chambers were empty on the Tuesday and Eoin explained all about the seating and where the different parties sit, the blue colouring, the white screens, the cameras and lots more. On the Wednesday Ms. Barron`s class were lucky to see the Dáil sitting and even got a wave from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar! From there we went to the Seanad which was also empty on the Tuesday. We found out it used to be a ballroom. It had beautiful ornate ceilings. Eoin also explained the different parts of the Seanad and answered our many questions. On Wednesday Ms. Barron`s class saw some of the senators in the Seanad and got a mention from Michael Mc Dowell! Our tour guide took us to the Dàil and we watched a debate. We were all fascinated! The Taoiseach and ministers were arguing about Dara Murphy and how he had resigned from his job. We saw Regina Doherty who is the Minister for Employment and Social Protection. We met many TD’s along the corridors. Walking through Leinster House, our guides talked about the portraits of previous Taoisigh, explained the history of Leinster House and how it used to be the home of the Duke of Leinster (James Fitzgerald). He and his wife Hermione had nineteen children! When the Duke died, she remarried and had three more children! After that, the house became a college. When they re-built it, they found lots of seashells, toys, turf and even a tree growing in the fire place! In 1898 it changed to Leinster house, an Irish government where people debate to make laws in the Dàil. Everything that is said in the Dàil is written down and goes on the Dàil record! We also learned about John F. Kennedy a former American President and how he came to Ireland and visited Leinster house. Everyone thought he had a really sore back and that he wouldn’t be able to walk up the stairs, so they had built a lift especially for his visit. In the end he didn’t use the lift. He walked up the stairs! Eamonn also showed us The Proclamation of Independence. One of the signatories was a former Taoiseach of Ireland who is considered to have been probably one of the best so far! His name was Sean Lemass, and he was Taoiseach from 1959-1967. On our way out we were admiring the beautiful Christmas tree. Beside it is a portrait of our President Michael D Higgins
When we left Leinster House, we went to Trinity College, had a picnic on the cricket grounds and played in the winter sunshine.
Exhausted but happy, we headed to the bus stop and took the 54A back to school at 2:30. Everyone had a wonderful day!