On Wednesday 10th April sixteen Fifth Year students jetted off on a Historical trip to Poland with their History Teacher Ms. Rosie Reale who was accompanied by Mr. Kevin Scollan and our Principal Ms. Fiona Gallagher. Upon arrival, students embarked on a three-hour guided walking tour of the city whereby they received an extensive overview of Polish History, visiting places such as the royal Wawel Castle, Wawel Cathedral, St.Mary’s Basilica, the beautiful Cloth Hall, the Jewish Quarter-Kazimierz where you can find the oldest synagogue in Poland and see several of the filming locations from the famous movie ‘Schindler’s List.’ Perhaps one of the most poignant stops along the walking tour was at the Ghetto Heroes Square which contains 70 over-sized empty chairs made form bronze. The stark empty chairs symbolise the Jews that inhabited the Krakow Ghetto from 1941-1943. Students also saw The Eagle Pharmacy in this square which was owned by the non-Jewish inhabitant Tadeusz Pankiewicz who risked his life by helping the Jews imprisoned there at the time. On Friday, students visited Auschwitz Concentration Camp. They were deeply moved by the guided tour and especially the gas chambers where 1.1 million people lost their lives, 230,000 of whom were innocent children.
Further activities included a visit to a very large water park-Park Wodny where students zoomed down water slides, played basketball, volleyball and engaged in many more fun water games. On Saturday, the day began with a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine which is currently a UNESCO world heritage site. The mine reaches a depth of 327 meters and extends via horizontal passages and chambers for over 287 kilometres. Students descended many flights of stairs but it was worth it all to see the mining shafts, displays of historic salt-mining technology, an underground lake, four chapels and numerous statues carved by miners out of the rock salt. The mine was first excavated in the 13th century and produced table salt until 2007
The trip concluded with a visit to the former Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory which now houses a permanent exhibition entitled Kraków under Nazi Occupation 1939-1945 and then it was homeward bound. It was a fantastic trip and although students and teachers didn’t arrive back until 2 a.m. Saturday morning they didn’t complain. In the words of the students it was class, epic, great craic… #welovehistory. Well done to the students and their teachers on a very successful and safe trip enjoyed by all!