2016 SCHS Band Dublin, Cork, Cobh, Kilkenny, Celbridge, Limerick, Lahinch, Killarney, Galway, and Athlone, Ireland Trip
3/14/2016 Monday (Seattle)
Yesterday 167 members of the SCHS Marching Band Delegation departed for Ireland
as scheduled. Mr. Caruso (SCHS Band Director) and Mr. Santo Pietro (SCHS Trip
Coordinator) traveled to Ireland one day ahead of the group to meet with the
Director of Celtic Horizon Tours and the staff who will be working with our
delegation to go over final trip details before our large delegation arrived.
The SCHS Marching Band will participate in Dublin in the St. Patrick's Day
Parade, in Celbridge at their St. Patrick's Day Parade, perform on the
promenade in Cobh, at Kilkenny Castle, in Lahinch, in the Limerick Band
Competition, and in Athlone with the local Ravens Band. Pictures and emails
will be posted on this page during the trip.
Yesterday, while our first group checked in at United Airlines (at 5:30 AM) we
received emails from Mr. Caruso and Mr. Santo Pietro to let us know that they
had arrived safely in Dublin. Mr. McCartney had already been informed that the
band equipment had arrived in Dublin. Mr. Santo Pietro emailed this morning to
say that the United Airlines group had arrived and everyone had already
departed on buses for the Rock of Cashel. He was waiting for the Lufthansa
Airlines group to arrive in about 15 minutes and then they also would be headed
for the Rock of Cashel too. Their adventure has begun!
Mr. Berkbigler sent the following update: "Our students have shown again how
amazing they are as people and as students. Our delegation of over 140 students
and 25 adults went on two different airlines to Dublin—one group left very
early Sunday morning and flew with United through Washington D.C., and the
other group left in the afternoon and flew with Lufthansa through Frankfurt.
Most students spent time working on their homework while in the airport and on
the flight. There was a small group of students who were seated behind me
discussing math problems past midnight! Multiple cabin crew from both
airlines sought out the adult chaperones to compliment the positive and
responsible behavior of our students—both airlines and from multiple
It was smooth in getting through the airports in terms of customs and security.
The first day was a treat in that we visited the Rock of Cashel. It is located
on a large rocky outcropping that overlooks the green fields and grazing sheep
of the Tipperary plain. The Rock of Cashel was the ancient home for the High
Kings of Munster for more than 600 years before they gave it to the church to
be used as a religious center in the early 12th century. This site is an
excellent introduction to medieval architecture and Celtic designs. We ended
the day with a satisfying meal at our hotel.
Tomorrow we go to the Blarney Stone, have a walking tour of Cobh, and a
performance on the Cobh promenade where people a hundred years ago wished the
Titanic a fond farewell on its maiden voyage."
Mr. Berkbigler also sent us these photos:
3/15/2016 Tuesday (Seattle 5:00 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler just sent the following update and some photos: "We started the
day early with a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel and then drove to Blarney
Castle. The castle is impressive and the surrounding grounds are beautiful, but
we came to see and to think about kissing the Blarney Stone. There is a legend
that goes back centuries that promises the gift of eloquence and wit to those
who kiss the stone. The stone has been part of Blarney Castle for seven hundred
years. It is a bit of a challenge to climb the steep and narrow steps up
through the castle to the ramparts where the stone is located. Many, but not
all students kissed the stone and hoped for the gift of gab. From Blarney
Castle we travelled to Cobh, a major port city and the last stopping place for
the Titanic. Cobh was also the departure point for millions of Irish who left
Ireland for the Americas in the 19th century. We had a walking tour of the
port. The tour guide was incredibly impressed by our students and the quality
of their answers to her questions, and their genuine curiousity about Cobh and
Irish history. The guide told me that our students increased her appreciation
for the historical knowledge of American teens! Kudos to the Shorecrest history
teachers in teaching our students well! After the tour the students changed
into their uniforms and marched along the city's waterfront promenade to a
small park with views of the sea. Our students performed in front of an
audience of appreciative locals. After the performance we had tea (or coffee)
and Irish biscuits. Cobh's Deputy Mayor stopped by and gave a short speech
complimenting our students and their keeping alive the Celtic traditions. She
said that she wished she could keep us in Cobh for St. Patrick's Day, but knew
that we had to travel on to Dublin. We concluded the day with a filling meal at
3/16/2016 Wednesday (Seattle 3:00 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler has sent another update with photos! "We started very early and
were on the buses for Kilkenny by 7:45 am—an amazing feat when you
consider we are a delegation of over 140 teenagers! Kilkenny is the smallest
city in Ireland—and it has been a significant place in Irish history
since the Middle Ages. It is the ancestral home of the Butlers who are one of
the most important dynasties in Irish history. The Butlers lived in the
Kilkenny castle from 1391until 1935. Once in Kilkenny the students changed
into their uniforms and had a light lunch of sandwiches and soup at a hotel.
Students marched to St. Kieren's College and performed in front of the Lord
Mayor of Kilkenny before marching on to Kilkenny Castle. Students performed on
the greens before the castle to an admiring crowd. The students gave an amazing
performance! Afterwards, students toured the castle and had free time to visit
the town. We arrived in Dublin about 6 pm local time. Students thought about
the two St. Patrick's Day parades for tomorrow as we ate dinner and wound down
for the night."
3/17/2016 Thursday (Seattle 5:00 PM)
Our daily update from Mr. Berkbigler: "St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin,
Ireland on March 17, 2016. All of our students have been looking forward to
this moment for years, and some have had this as a goal for six or more years.
We go to Ireland only once every four years so today was a much anticipated
day. It was a cold day with some wind and periods of bright sunshine. The sun
increased as the day progressed. The Shorecrest delegation of marching band,
cheer, Highland Dancers, bagpipes, and flags impressed the judges and a
cheering audience of over half a million along the parade route. Our delegation
looked so sharp, sounded so impressive, and moved with so much precision that
the judges chose our students for the Overall Champion Band Award. Dublin's
Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh said that the Shorecrest delegation is impressive
in its look, completeness, and sound and that they were a pleasure to see
In addition to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, our students marched in
another parade in Celbridge. The Celbridge parade was smaller and cozier than
the Dublin parade. It helped that the sun was out for most of the time in
Celbridge. The look of pride and the sound of happiness filled every table at
dinner. Students felt good about their performances today—and this was
before Mr. Caruso told them that they had won the competition! They are
exhausted from marching for hours in mid-40 degree temperatures, and they will
sleep well knowing that they have achieved a great honor of bringing home a
championship trophy to Shorecrest. Today is one of those days that is goodness
wrapped in happiness. It is a moment that everyone who participated in will
remember for their whole lives."
3/18/2016 Friday (Seattle 4:30 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler has sent us an update from Dublin along with photos. "It was a
cold and gray day in Dublin with some wind gusts. The day started in the 30s
and got into the low-mid 40s by the afternoon—and there wasn't any sun.
Today's weather showed us how fortunate we were to have had sunshine and
warming temperatures for yesterday's parades.
We had a sightseeing bus tour of Dublin that included a visit to St. Patrick's
Cathedral where Jonathan Swift of Gulliver's Travels fame is buried. We also
went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a
beautifully illuminated medieval copy of the four Gospels. It is a national
treasure of Ireland and one of the most important books in the world! We also
saw Trinity College's oldest library—a place that has first editions of
books from the 1500s until the present day.
After Trinity College students had a few hours of free time in Dublin. Students
were able to choose what they wanted to do from shopping and eating to
wandering historic Dublin and/or going to the National Museum. Students loved
At 5 o'clock we went to dinner at Taylors Three Rock for a traditional Irish
meal, song and dance performances. Students slowly warmed up to the Irish music
and by the end of the evening they were having so much fun that it was hard to
leave. A few students started impromptu dancing to the music—and this
along with a good meal lightened the mood for everyone. In time about twenty or
so students danced to the music, were given a dance lesson, or otherwise became
part of the performance. Two of our drummers had a drum competition with Mr.
Caruso. There was a lot of laughter and good cheer. It is difficult to express
how and why over a hundred people can be filled with mirth—so just ask
them when they get home about the evening of Irish music and dance!"
3/19/2016 Saturday (Seattle 5:30 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler has sent another update. "We had a long drive today from Dublin
to the Cliffs of Mower. On the way there we stopped at a village that has a
connection with President Obama. One of his ancestors came from this village in
We stopped in recreated Irish village with castle. There of course was shopping
at the beginning, middle and end of this recreated village with peat burning
fires, chickens and little goats (or were they sheep?)... and there was a
restored castle with tapestries and antlers!
Wow. The Shannon River Valley is as beautiful as the pictures of it and the
Cliffs of Mower are stunning. Students performed at the base of a steep hill
near the cliffs. The sun was vying with the clouds in the sky, and the sun won
out. Our Shorecrest band played for a very appreciative audience of people
visiting the cliffs. The sun, the cliffs, the wind blowing in the grass on a
hill rising up from where the students were playing, the picturesque Shannon
River Valley, and our Shorecrest performers. Our performance was made even more
special by the wind. The wind seemed to carry our music out over the Shannon
Valley. In a word—brilliant."
3/20/2016 Sunday (Seattle 4:00 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler has sent us an update from Limerick. "Today we travelled to
Limerick to march in the Limerick International Band Competition and Parade.
The weather stayed in the 40s all day long. The students played like
professionals to perform at a high level in the cold weather. They were in
their uniforms in the cold for over three hours. There were 18 bands in total
in the parade. Shorecrest won the Best Musical Performance for the parade!
After the parade we went to a shopping mall for just over an hour. Surprisingly
enough the trip to the mall was a real experience for many students—it
turned out to be quite an adventure in the mall!"
3/21/2016 Monday (Seattle 5:30 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler has sent us an update. "Today was a relaxing
day—we had a nice drive through southwestern Ireland, took a horse and
buggy ride, visited a Victorian manor house, explored a castle, and had some
free time in the charming town of Killarney. The horse and buggy or "jaunting
car" was through an Irish National Park near a lake that looked a lot like Lake
Washington—if Lake Washington had small mountains and a castle!
Students had a very nice time experiencing a place that is similar in feel to
western Washington, but different in history and culture. There were even
Mallard ducks and deer. The manor house that we visited was a nice walk through
a real Downtown Abbey—this meant something to the students who are
familiar with Downtown Abbey or other period dramas like it. The sun even came
out at the end of the day as students were walking through the town of
Killarney. It seemed as if every other student was eating ice cream or some
other sweet as they explored the town!"
3/22/2016 Tuesday (Seattle 4:00 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler has sent us an update: "Today we had a musical treat in playing
with the biggest little band in the world, or the Artane Band. The band is
composed of high school age students and they play at major events both in
Ireland and in the world. The Artane Band plays at the opening of all of the
Gaelic Games. We all listened to the Artane Band perform and then our musicians
stayed while our dancers, cheer, and flags went out to the sports field to
learn hurling and Irish football. Most students got some sleep on the bus from
Artane to Athlone. Athlone was our final performance. Students formed up in a
courtyard near an old church and then marched down the streets of the town and
over a bridge to an old fortification. The setting was picturesque and a nice
concluding performance for the trip. The band performed in front of Athlone's
Lord Mayor and a small, but very appreciative crowd. The final picture for the
day is the SC drum line with the Lord Mayor."
3/23/2016 Wednesday (Seattle 4:00 PM)
Mr. Berkbigler has sent us an update:
"It is a bittersweet moment as we pack up to leave Ireland and the last eleven
days together. There have been brilliant moments, tired moments, low moments,
and everything in between. The memories will last a life time for everyone
We concluded our touring by driving around the Connemara peninsula with sleepy
students. I counted 18 asleep out of 40 students and adults on my bus... our
destination was a shop called Malachy Bodhrans. This is where the best Irish
drums are made—bodhrans are a type of drum that has its origins from over
3,000 years ago. After the countryside we went to Galway—there is still
a stone arch near Galway's docks where the Spanish in the 1500's docked their
ships. Galway has a relaxing city center for last minute shopping and excellent
fish and chips at a place called McDonagh's... although some students went to
Our celebratory dinner and farewell started at 6:30 and went almost to 9:30.
There was live Irish music and a lot of friendship, laughter, and dancing. It
was a happy moment, and we are all ready to go home with life long memories."
For parents meeting the delegation tomorrow:
Our delegation flying Lufthansa Airlines is scheduled to arrive at SeaTac
Airport at 12:50 PM. They will be arriving on Lufthansa Flight #490. To
check to see if the flight is on time you can go to
www.lufthansa.com, click on "Flights and
Deals", and then click on "Flight Status" under flight information. They may
need to clear immigrations and customs in Seattle since they will be arriving
on an international flight.
Our delegation flying United Airlines is schedulted to arrive at SeaTac at 8:40
PM. They will be arriving on United Airlines Flight #326. To check to see if
the flight is on time you can go to www.united.com and click on "Flight Status".
Our United Airlines delegation will have cleared immigrations and customs in
WCE will post emails and pictures for the 2016 WCE March SCHS Band Ireland Trip
while the trip is in progress! Please encourage your family and friends to view
the WCE Web Site and follow the trip!!