The 3rd and TY students, alongside Mr Mc Clearn, Ms. Duggan and Mr. Walsh, departed Portlaoise College at 9 o’clock Tuesday the 17th of February to venture to the airport for their 12 o’clock flight to Edinburgh, Scotland. After a smooth run in the airport and a quick flight overseas, the students and teachers landed in Edinburgh airport at approximately half 12.

After checking into their hotel, they were brought to the National Museum of Scotland where we viewed animal sculptures, different cultures of the world and even trains. One thing everyone really enjoyed though, was the view of the city on the terrace of the building.

After leaving the museum we visited the Edinburgh Dungeons where we examined their customer service and that how important it is to them that their customers have a thoroughly enjoyable experience The next morning, the students and teachers headed to Edinburgh Castle, to see the landmarks and things left behind in the castle. There were things such as jail cells, the great hall and you could go see the crown jewels. At Edinburgh we we learned how the Castle is marketed all over the world and that international tourists make up 90% of their customer base.

After everyone regrouped, they headed to Calton Hill where we witnessed breath taking views of the city. We continued to the Scottish Parliament and witnessed a debate about the state of hospitals in Scotland, something that is very relevant to Irish society today.

After the debate everyone headed back to the hotel to collect the bags and headed back to the airport to catch their flight back to Dublin.

Everyone on the trip thoroughly enjoyed the trip and have all said it is an experience they will never forget.

By Kerry Carroll Talbot

On 1st March 20 students and 3 staff from Portlaoise College visited Brussels to investigate the work of the European Parliament and their local MEP and vice-president of the Parliament Mairead McGuinness.

Prior to meeting Mairead students enjoyed a guided tour of Brussells taking in the famous sites of the Grand Place, the Manneken Pis and St Michael and St Gudule Church. After a tiring sightseeing tour the students settled down to an authentic Belgium meal where we enjoyed Belgium’s wood famous waffles.

The next day we visited the Atomium and enjoyed a panoramic view of Brussels. After this we made our way to the European Parliament when we were given a tour of the chamber and a talk on the formation and functions of the parliament. After this we meet Mairead McGuinness who told us all the her daily duties as an MEP and some of the policies she is working on like agriculture and rural development, environment and food safety and children’s issues.



On the 4th February 2014, 14 students and 4 teachers of Portlaoise College departed for the long Journey to Gambia via Manchester.

It had been a conclusion of many months hard work. The school raised nearly €20,000 by staging various events such as holding an indoor soccer tournament, a bake sale, Xmas market, Carol singing, a raffle, an auction, individual student fundraising, coin trail and a table quiz.

Vicky Reddin singing with students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school

Vicky Reddin singing with students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school

The support we have received from the local community has been nothing short of terrific. Parents, Local Businesses, Staff members, Students and School suppliers have supported us through sponsorship, donations and giving up time to help out with fundraising.

Over the course of the week we visited a health centre and hospital, donated items to a nursery and secondary school, painted classrooms in the nursery and secondary school, partook in a Gambian sports day, taught lessons to students in the nursery school, showed Gambian students how to play hurling and donated a container of items the schools and hospitals. This is a student account of our activities in the Gambia.


Visit to Health Centre and Hospital

: Dovile Greblaiskaite holding a student of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school

: Dovile Greblaiskaite holding a student of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school


“We went to a health centre, only people who have an infection go there and they do not stay there overnight. The doctor gives them medicine and after a couple of hours they have to leave. Then we gave out some of the things that we brought over with us such as plasters, bandages, vitamins, disposable gloves etc… Then we went to visit the Brikama hospital, it looked very different to the hospitals that I’ve seen before. There were about 20 women sitting outside with their kids, waiting for the doctors and nurses to help them. Then we went to the children’s ward. The babies were crying and their mothers were sitting on the bed beside them. It was sad looking at the little kids being sick. Then we went to a room where people donate blood, but we didn’t go inside. The doctor said that not many people donate blood, so after that I think I’ll start to do it when I’m 18, because it might save a life. Then we went to the Labour Ward. There were about 10 beds and each section was divided by a curtain. The doctor said that approximately 25 babies are born each day. When we were done looking around, we left all the things that we brought over, such as plasters, bandages, blood pressure machines and disposable gloves”

Dovile Greblaiskaite


Visit to Nursery School

Leah Murphy playing with students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school

Leah Murphy playing with students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school

“On the second day of the trip we visited Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery. We were greeted by an encore of Gambian school children singing – all dressed in immaculate uniform. Getting to know the children on a more personal level proved to be very emotional.

After this the students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery demonstrated some of their games for us, next it was our turn where we showed the children of this Gambian school some of our games.

Following this, we sampled first-hand, home-cooked traditional rice dishes of the Gambia. Finally the considerable amounts of donations that we were given to the College by local businesses in Portlaoise were distributed to the overwhelmed but extremely happy Gambian children and teachers”

Leah Murphy


Visit to Secondary School

Danielle McDonald holding a baby at Munyagen Basic Secondary School

Danielle McDonald holding a baby at Munyagen Basic Secondary School

“To reach the secondary that Portlaoise College is twinned with we had to take the ferry from Banjul to Barra, and it was hectic. People crammed into this tiny boat, trucks and Lorries on the ground floor made the area very tight to move around. As we began to sail, it dawned on me that, these people are oblivious to the way we live our lives and that what we believe that everything is replaceable, it is like treasure to them.

After the journey to the school, we finally made it, and were greeted by kids singing “welcome”. It was astonishing. It was like someone told them these people are famous. They greeted us with waves and hugs and before they gave us a tour of the school, they gave us a welcome speech and dance. The mothers of some of the kids prepared us food and we began work on painting the classroom. As the kids stood outside in amazement, we were proud to stand back and watch as some of the kids painted with us”

Jack Hanley


Painting the Nursery School 

Owen McGrath painting at Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school

Owen McGrath painting at Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school

“Before we started painting I taught the classrooms were very dull, just grey concrete walls, if the there was a hole in the wall it was filled with lumps of red clay and the posters on the wall were ripped and torn. It was very dirty and just not a nice place to learn in.

Before we started painting we brainstormed to see what would be the best items to paint in each classroom. We gave each classroom an undercoat of cream first; we then painted numbers, key words and shapes days of the week, months, alphabet, numbers and shapes.

Outside the classrooms we painted the doors, the toilets and 2 hopscotch areas at the side of the school. We also painted an Irish mural on the front of the school; it included some Irish symbols like a leprechaun, a rainbow, fields, shamrocks, mountains and a pot of gold.

This was probably the most rewarding day as we felt we accomplished something that would stand the test of time”

Danielle McDonald

Toilet before and after painting

Toilet before and after painting

Toilet before and after painting

Toilet before and after painting

 Teaching Lessons

“Before we left Gambia, there was one thing we wanted to do. We wanted to go back to the primary school and see what the children thought of their freshly painted school.

We broke up into teams and decided to teach a class. Each of the groups had to come up with a nursery rhyme where all the children would learn it and sing it for us at the end.

We taught them about the weather, different animals, numbers, shapes and days of the week. We used the paintings on the wall to help in our teaching. We also taught each class a different nursery rhythm and it was great to see that we had left some of our knowledge behind in the Gambia” 

Laura Kolca


Playing Hurling

Portlaoise College teacher Pauraic Kenny teaching students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school some hurling skills

Portlaoise College teacher Pauraic Kenny teaching students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school some hurling skills

“As part of the items we decided to bring out to the Gambia were some hurls and sliotars, we taught it would be a good idea to teach them about Irish culture. We couldn’t believe how quick the Gambian students picked up the skills of our beloved game. After a few minutes students were able to catch and strike the ball like they have been playing for years. When we return again we hope to bring out enough hurls so we could play a real game with them”

Eoghan O’Neill




Portlaoise College teacher Pauraic Kenny teaching students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school some hurling skills

Portlaoise College teacher Pauraic Kenny teaching students of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school some hurling skills



“We also sent out a container from Portlaoise College of books, toys, sporting equipment, teaching resources, clothes and second hand bikes.  These were all donated by parents, staff members and the local community. The items in the container were donated to the Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery, Munyagen Basic Secondary School and Brikama Hospital”

Dylan Gowing 


Student comments on the overall Gambia Experience

Hannah Young holding a student of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school with the newly painted walls in the background

Hannah Young holding a student of Jamisa Yiriwa Nursery school with the newly painted walls in the background

“This has been a real life changing experience, I realised that the less you have, the more you value the things that are actually important like family and friends” Lauma Stale

“This trip has changed my view on life, it made me realise that the materialistic things in life will never make you truly happy” – Leah Murphy 

 Portlaoise College All Ireland Ladies Volley Ball Champions 2014

Picture21 On Friday the 8th of March the transition year class went to Griffith College to the F1 in schools regional finals. 2 teams from Portlaoise College qualified; they were the Elimeinators and Pit Vipers. We left the school at 6:30am and arrived at Griffith College at 8 o’clock. When we arrived we registered our teams, we were then showed to our stalls to set up our stands.

After entering the venue, we went to set up our stalls. It turned out that the Elimeinators and Pit Vipers stalls were right beside each other! Everyone stuck up the posters they had printed off, turned their laptops on, and opened up the presentations about their teams. Everyone had their 20 page portfolio set up beside it, too.

As the time wore on, more teams arrived. All the other teams set up their stalls, and they were very impressive. Some had their own stands made from laser cutters; some had their boiler suits as uniforms, others displays were so well done. There were little perks on some stands, like lollipops and chocolate they got made for themselves. Continue reading

Written by 3rd Year Student Niall Dillon

Dáil PhotoOn the 23rd of January, the second and third year students from Portlaoise College visited Dail Eireann as part of their CSPE action project .We met with the Sinn Fein TD for Laois/Offaly, Brian Stanley outside the Dail and were escorted into the public gallery of the Dail chamber. Here we listened to the debate between Sean Fleming (Fianna Fail), Brian Hayes (Fine Gael) and Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein) about public expenditure. Soon afterwards, we split into two groups and we went on the tour of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Continue reading

Picture12All 1st year students attended an educational fieldtrip to Dublin in April.

This year’s first years went on an interesting Art/History trip to the Hugh Lane Gallery, Trinity College in Dublin (the Book of Kells and the Library). They visited Dublin Castle and had a guided tour through the Chester Beatty Library.

French Students undertook an art work-shop in  Monoprinting with Ms Phelan. Students worked from photographs of Laois Heritage Sites. An example of work can be seen below.  Students were able to take home their artwork and have a keepsake from Portlaoise College and Co. Laois.
 Picture10Picture11 Picture13

On Friday the 17th CIMG5405of March We (The Transition Years) set off on our trip to the UK. We got our bus outside Portlaoise College at 6 am and drove to Dublin Port to get our ferry over to Holyhead. On the ferry we all stayed together and the excitement of finally being on the trip was building up as we sat at a window and watched the waves. We arrived at Holyhead at about 12 in the afternoon and got on the bus to make our way to the town with the longest name in the world “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”

We then drove to a short distance ton Conwy Castle. It was a beautiful old castle and we walked around it. The sights we seen were amazing and we all really enjoyed it. Once we walked around the castle we then went to see the Smallest House in Great Britain. It was a tiny red house and it was so cute. After that we took more pictures and then made our way back to the bus.

We arrived at the Grand Hotel in Llandudno. This is where we stayed and once we got our rooms and settled a bit we went and had an evening meal. It was an all you can eat buffet so we ate a lot then went into one room altogether and had a chat. We then all went out and had a look around because there was a beach right beside the hotel.

On Thursday we woke up at half 7 to go down to have breakfast, again it was an all you can eat buffet so we definitely enjoyed that! We then waited and got the bus over to the Tree Top Adventure Centre in Snowdonia. When we got there we didn’t know what to expect for we have never been there before. We then met the woman who would be looking after us for the day, her name was Tara and she was lovely. We got into our harnesses and put on our helmets and anything else we needed. We all felt really safe in these. Continue reading

    On the 22nd February at 5:15 a.P1260059m., the Student Council and five teachers left Portlaoise College and made their way to Belgium. We landed in Brussels at 11 a.m. Our bus was waiting for us, so we went to the hotel to drop off our bags. Then, the bus dropped us to the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. We saw the different army uniforms that different countries wore during the 1st and 2nd world wars and we saw the different planes that existed at the time. We also viewed exhibits of armoured tanks and military helicopters. Continue reading