Ireland, UK & France Football Tour ’24

March 29, 2024

On Tuesday, 26 March, 50 students and seven staff departed Melbourne bound for the Emerald Isle to commence the sixth triennial Football Tour of Ireland.

Established in 2007, the Ireland experience is a highlight of St Patrick’s College’s renowned football program, but it is so much more than a football tour.

This year, for the first time, the tour has been expanded to include a trip to the Western Front in Belgium and France, where students will visit some of the graves of our fallen Old Collegians.

Over the next two weeks, students will document their travels, sharing their cultural, sporting and historical experiences with the College and wider community. We invite you to come on this journey with us.

Day 1: Dublin

By Nedd Bennett, Cooper Battye and Jake Abrams

Today in Dublin we started the day with a walking tour of the city, while the guide explained the history and importance of some of the key landmarks relating to the 1916 Easter uprising and the devastating events of that time.

Next, we ventured to Trinity College, one of the most renowned and prestigious Colleges in Ireland. Here we got to see the famous Book of Kells, learning about its history through a virtual experience. Furthermore, while we were at Trinity College we visited their famous library, where there is a spectacular artwork showcasing NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface.

Finally, we finished by visiting the fourth biggest stadium in Europe, Croke Park. Croke Park is the home of Gaelic football and Hurling in Ireland, their two main sports. This stadium holds 82,000 people and easily sells out for their all-Ireland finals. Our tour guides emphasised the strong sporting culture in Ireland and connections to their hometown. You only need to ask a person where they are from, and you know who they go for. For an amateur game, the players are seen as heroes amongst their communities, yet do not get any money for playing at the elite level. One guide explaining how the goalkeeper for Dublin, who has revolutionised the position, is also a Biology teacher a local school.

Day 2: Match 1, Dublin

By Lachie Pritchard, Cody Salmon, Jack McCann and Kolby Strybosch

To kick off day two in Dublin we all took the bus to Abbotstown to play our first game of Gaelic Football against St Aidan’s, Dublin. We arrived an hour before the game to get some more practice in using the round balls. We agreed on the first half being Gaelic football and then International Rules and a bit of AFL in the second half.

In the first quarter, we got overwhelmed. St Aidan’s squad were a lot more skilled and familiar with the round ball and the game of Gaelic, but we came back in the second after becoming a lot more comfortable with the game. We then moved onto International rules which proved to be an eye opener for St Aidan’s due to the new aspect of tackling, but just like we got comfortable with the game of Gaelic, they too got comfortable with International rules or “compromise” Rules as the Irish lads were calling it. To finish off the game we decided to use an AFL footy and play some Aussie Rules. The Irish lads were having lots of fun with the AFL footy. They were amazed by the skill we showed using the oval ball, just as we admired their skill with the Gaelic ball. We enjoyed playing with the Irish lads, although the Gaelic ball was more suited to them, they adapted to the footy pretty quickly as we did to the Gaelic ball.

READ MORE: SPC v St Aidan’s Match Report

At the end of the game, many of the St Pat’s boys gave one of their jumpers to the lads they had played and in return were given the Dublin Gaelic jumper – a very special moment for many. Once the game finished, we indulged in a small presentation and quick post-game meal with St Aidan’s. Afterwards, we were provided with an hour and a half of shopping, where many of the boys forked out for a Gaelic jumper. Lastly, it was a walk around Dublin, stopping at the supermarket for some snacks for our bus ride the next day, before heading off to our rooms and packing up our bags ready to leave early in the morning.

Day 3: Waterford and Cork

By Paddy O’Brien, Dean Harten, Eli Holloway and Tom Foster

Day three saw an early start as we hopped on the bus to start our travel to Cork, saying goodbye to Dublin and heading to our first stop, Callan, which was the birthplace of Edmund Rice. We spent time here learning about the rich history of where Edmund Rice was born and grew up. Edmund one of eight children and grew up on the farmland. He was later sent by his parents to a town called Waterford where he began his legacy to promote an education that recognised the dignity of each individual.

Our next stop was Waterford. We travelled by bus to the Edmund Rice International Heritage Centre, where we met up with the Brothers of the centre who gave us a tour of the museum and resting place of Edmund Rice. Edmund was a Catholic missionary who worked on building multiple schools, a bakehouse and tailor shop for the poor. Edmund was very conscious of the vulnerable and was inspired to empower young men, like ourselves, to display strong leadership, compassion and commitment to the Catholic faith. Before his death, he was placed in solitary confinement for a couple of years before he passed tragically from a stroke. Edmund has been re-buried four times, but now rests in a tomb at the Mt Sion Chapel. After our tours, we thanked the Brothers and finished with a photo by the burial site of Edmund. This was followed up by a delicious lunch before we departed to Cork.

After a long day of travelling, we arrived in Cork. For dinner we enjoyed some nice chicken with mash potato and vegetables. After destroying the main meal, the dessert of chocolate brownie and ice cream topped with a strawberry was quickly devoured. We spent the rest of the day watching a GAA game on the television played at Croke Park, which we visited few days earlier.

Day 4: Cork and Cobh

By Zac Dransman, Nathan Jolly and Campbell Lloyd

Early in the morning on Easter Sunday, everyone packed on a bus to Cobh to attend the Easter Mass at the almost indescribable St Coleman’s Cathedral. The Mass, while similar to our very own at school, had distinct differences providing an intriguing insight to life and religion over in this part of the world. The sheer beauty of the cathedral made it the perfect place to start our Easter Sunday. At the conclusion of Mass, we were able to spend time capturing photos of the magnificent Cathedral in all its glory. Furthermore, we were lucky enough to get a group photo with the bishop and other priests after the Mass.

Following the impressive Mass, we all walked down to the Cobh Heritage Centre to gain an insight to the history of emigration in Ireland. This was also the same port that the Titanic last departed before the disaster and was the place that many distant relatives would have left in pursuit of a new life in Australia. When entering the Heritage Centre each student was handed a card with a name of a migrant who departed from that dock, each with a different story. Through the personalised stories, we could almost relive the challenges that some would have faced when travelling on the seas. It was intriguing to learn about all the ships and the stories of them, truly putting in perspective the importance and the sacrifices made while emigrating.

After visiting Cobh Heritage Centre, we returned to the accommodation to quickly get changed before heading to the Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone, where it is said to give eloquence and persuasive speech upon those who kiss it. We made our way up the narrow, winding stairs of the castle before reaching the top where we leant backwards over a sheer drop to kiss the ancient stone, a ritual that dates back centuries. We made our way back down the steep staircase before heading into the gift shop were some students purchased souvenirs. We then headed back to the bus to return to the accommodation.

We arrived at the accommodation; Mr O’Connor gave us the information for our dinner reservation.

We numbered off and put on our collared shirts, with our mouths drooling thinking about The Dean’s desserts.

We made our way into town, but with it being Easter Sunday the shops were closed and we looked like a clown.

As the clock hit 6.30pm, the hunger in our bellies grew. After Jacob’s Inn, who knew what was on the menu.

But to my delight, cheeseburgers and curry with a drink of sprite. Chocolate brownie and apple crumble made our tummies rumble.

After we all smashed dinner down, we thought it was about time to leave the town. We got on the trot; hot it was not.

We finally got back and got ready to pack for our next adventure tomorrow.

Day 5: Cork to Galway along the west coast

By Joe Rabbette, James Parkinson and Lachie Martin

In the morning, we had our deluxe breakfast at the wonderful Gabriel’s Guesthouse in Cork and packed up as we made our way to Galway.


About two hours in we made our first stop at a small town called Adare, a place home to many extravagant castles with long lasting history. We explored the town for a bit before getting back on the road and heading off to the Cliffs of Moher.


As we drove past the golf links and into the countryside, we entered the Cliffs of Moher. 

The world-heritage listed site was a wonder to see. The waves of the sea crashing upon the incredible rock formations were a beauty. People everywhere flocking to see the sight, characterised by people taking photos, wanting to have memories of the unbelievable view.

After a while, we jump back into Peter Byrne’s bus – who can park it anywhere – and drive down the coastline into the Burren. 

The flat rocks scattered all along the land was again a lovely sight where many photos and exploring took place. Lastly, to fill in time, we headed to a castle to stretch the legs and have a wander around. 

To wrap up the day, we were arrived at our hostel where we will be staying for the next couple nights. We then dropped our bags off and headed into town for our meal this evening. The boys were keen for a feed at John Keogh’s Gastro Pub. We were served with delicious meals and then headed back to the hostel to call it a day, ready for our next game of Gaelic tomorrow.

Day 6: Match 2, Galway

By Sam Duggan and Archie Eichler

Today the lads started the day with a light training session to continue the improvement of our ball handling with the round ball, particularly seeking to improve our goal kicking. We were then given the license to explore the beauty Galway has to offer to fill in time with most boys demolishing a good feed and enjoying some shopping.

Finally, it was game time. With Connacht County being the destination, the boys were thrilled to explore the state-of-the-art air dome facilities, which were unfortunately booked, but gave us the opportunity to play on the outdoor astroturf. The boys were split into two teams with each getting a half, playing a mixture of Gaelic football and International Rules against Sligo from the North-West. The Paddy boys jumped them early, beating them at their own game with our handling of the round ball a key feature. The scoreline 14-4.

As the locals adapted to the physicality a bit better, the game had a greater defensive presence, especially when tackling was introduced in International Rules (the last five minutes of each quarter), giving us the upper hand against the Irish. At half time, teams were switched, but the dominance of SPC prevailed with the score of 29-9. The final term saw the novelty of the Sherrin twisting the game, placing the locals in shambles although they couldn’t get enough of it. The final scoreline of 34-16 saw us take the win, although the connections made and memories shaped for all involved enthused greater joy.

READ MORE: SPC v Sligo Academy Match Report

Afterwards, we had a nice feed to replenish the nutrients, followed by some shenanigans on the bus to keep all wide awake. Tomorrow, we continue our travels towards Derry and Maghera for our home stays.

Days 7 & 8: Derry and Maghera, Home stays and final match

By Paterson Meneely and Nic Salter

Today we had breakfast in Galway before driving into Northern Ireland to Derry. We then experienced an informative tour of Derry/London Derry. We visited the historic Walled city, the famous Peace Garden and the Peace Bridge. We also saw the Derry murals and learnt about the social and political causes that influenced them.

In the afternoon we drove through the Sperrin Mountains to the Maghera area where we met our host families at St Patrick’s, Maghera.

– Paterson 


Day two of the home stay, we started off the day with our third game of the Ireland tour. We had a great win to start off the morning. After that I went to the local coffee shop with my home stay family where we had a coffee and a bite to eat. I then went home and had pasta for lunch. At around 2pm, we all got on the bus and went to the second game of the day which started at 4pm. It was a tough game for St Pat’s against a strong U16 Derry squad. This time, we sadly fell short. Later that evening we went to one of the local pubs and had a little disco with a few of the Irish boys and girls.

– Nic 

By Angus Rothe, Will Palmer and Hunter Knight

This morning, I woke up to a delicious breakfast made by my host family and travelled to the first match of the day. Eagerness filled the change rooms as the boys warmed up for the triennual McGuigan Cup. After a skilful and exiting game, our boys from St Patrick’s College, Ballarat were victorious with a convincing 61-27 win.

Shortly after the final whistle, friendly presentations were held and our boys presented St Patrick’s College, Maghera with a plaque of appreciation made by our very own, Peter Ryan. This plaque was particularly special as it was crafted with timber from our College’s old grandstand back home in Ballarat.

Whilst some boys travelled into town for lunch, I returned home to enjoy another great meal with my host family before driving to the final match of the tour against County Derry’s U16 team. After a challenging game, the Derry boys were too strong with a 40-13 win. I was lucky to swap my jumper with a Derry player, highlighting the friendly competition and our appreciation for each other. More affable presentations were held as we presented the Derry team with another plaque steeped in the history of our College.

Another fun-filled day concluded with a freshly cooked meal from my host family. Today was uniquely special, it created strong connections with the Irish boys and further developed the relationships within the tour group.

– Angus


Today we woke up after our first night at our home stays in Maghera. We went and had some breakfast and then went to watch the first game of the day – the McGuigan Cup. It was a really good game and great to watch them play. After the game we went to Walshes Cafe to get some lunch before we headed home to get ready for our game. We got a bus as a team to our game which was good fun. Our game was really tough but fun, unlucky that we didn’t get the win. After the game we got to swap jerseys with the opponents which was a good thing to do. Then we headed inside for a bit of Irish Stew and then went home and got ready for the disco. The disco was good fun with music and socialising with the students from St Patrick’s Maghera. We then went home and went to bed, ready for our final leg of Ireland.

– Will 


After a long eventful night and going to sleep very late, we got the best sleep-in ever. We were woken up at 6am and headed down to the field at 8:30am to watch the first game – the McGuigan Cup – against St Pat’s Maghera.

There were some really impressive performances throughout the match and we walked away with the win before heading home for an arvo nap and getting woken up four minutes before we had to leave for the second game!

We drove down to Owenbeg for our 4pm game against the Derry U16 squad team. It was a long, cold muddy game and after a very disappointing first quarter, we switched on and started clawing back the margin within a couple minutes of the second. Unfortunately, we still landed short due to our start. It was a very fun game to play in and I made some mates in my mid-game chats. We then went to the rooms and were given a jersey and I ended up with an XXS, so it was a bit tight. We had some Irish stew and hopped on the bus to go back to our home stay place. We went to the pub they own for dinner then it was lights out due to an early start.

– Hunter

Day 9: Maghera to Belfast

By Hamish Fanning, Declan Clark, Henry Faulkner and Zac Evans

Today we left our home stay family and continued our adventure. We caught the bus to Portrush, a small town situated on the coast of County Antrim. Portrush is home to a very prestigious golf club, The Royal Portrush Golf Club, which was established in 1888 and is considered one of the most challenging golf courses in the world.

Even further down the coast we had a look at Dunluce Castle, a ruined medieval castle in County Antrim which was built on the edge of a cliff that falls into the Atlantic Sea. The castle was constructed in the 17th century and was used in the show Game of Thrones.


We then ventured off to the Giant’s Causeway, a world heritage listed site and something that is truly unique to itself. We piled out of the bus and began our journey down the coast to the hexagonal rocks that make up the Giant’s Causeway.

Along the walk we were surrounded by breathtaking mountains and a great view of the ocean. Eventually we arrived at the Causeway and were in awe of the unique hexagonal rocks that make up the site which was then followed by Biggo finding out how slippery the rocks can be!

The sight was like nothing else and made for a great photo. We learnt about some of the history of how Finn McCool supposedly used the site as a gateway to Scotland for a challenge with another giant. Eventually we gathered ourselves and walked back up the hill into the cafe for a quick feed before getting back on the bus.


Upon our arrival at Belfast, we had lunch outside the Titanic Museum before getting a quick rundown about the history of the Titanic from Richo. As soon as we entered the museum, we had loads of information and exhibitions to learn about. Throughout the experience we learnt about how the ship came to be built, what went wrong, and how they discovered it. We also learnt about the many men, women and children that lost their lives – a total of 1,517 lives were lost on that fateful night, despite there actually being enough lifeboats for all. 


After the Titanic Museum we met John, an ex-IRA officer who took us on a tour around Belfast and he told us about all the violence and tragedies between the Catholics and Protestants. Gun fire and explosions were a normal occurrence for him. He spoke of the British army and how his family had a lot of encounters with them. One example he shared was when they shot at his house and raided it looking for guns and how his mother was a tough cookie who the army feared as she would hit them with a broom! He explained the change that he has seen over the last few decades and took us to the Peace Wall to sign a message. It was a very insightful tour. We finished the day with a buffet dinner at the hotel. 

Day 10: Stuck in Belfast 

After an early start to get to the Belfast airport, our flight was unfortunately cancelled and then delayed until 8pm Saturday evening which meant our London sightseeing was put on hold. Fortunately, for those that were keen, we headed into the city for some lunch and shopping. Most headed to O’Neill’s and scored some extra Gaelic jerseys. We eventually got to London just before midnight, quickly to bed as we needed to cover a lot in the next two days.

Day 11: London

By Tom O’Donohue, Jack Cleary, Kade Hilton, Paddy Mihaljevic and Baxter Horsburgh

The day started with breakfast at the hotel, after which we quickly ran to the train station to catch the tube and start our sightseeing of London. Each group split off to explore the city checking out Westminster, Big Ben, Parliament House, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and even getting to see the London half marathon taking place in the streets of London.

Continuing our journey, we made our way to the Tower of London where we spent a large amount of time looking at the Crown Jewels and the amour of the past kings. We also learnt how the castle was built upon the bank of the river Thames, and the history and significance of the castle which everyone found very enjoyable. Overall, after a long time of waiting to get to London, our first day was very enjoyable getting to know the history of such a big city, including the famous Buckingham Palace. 

To finish off the day, we went to an English Premier League game and it was amazing. We watched Tottenham versus Nottingham Forrest, and the game ended 3-1 to Tottenham. The atmosphere was amazing, and you can really see how different it is to AFL. The noise and the chanting were exciting to see and in a massive stadium they only have a small section allocated to the away team and it’s surrounded by security which was very interesting to see! That was our first full day in London and we’re excited for the next!


Day 12: London

By Linc Koliba, Brendan Monaghan and Hamish McNamara

The boys woke up early for an 8am breakfast, which consisted of a wonderful buffet including bacon, eggs, hash browns etc. We packed up and met down at the foyer to head off to Lords – The Home of Cricket for the morning. We made the walk to Kings Cross station and jumped on the tube.

When we arrived at the ground we were greeted by our tour guide Rob. First off, he showed us Real/Royal tennis before taking us to the Lord’s museum to share the rich history that lives at Lords cricket ground including the real and famous Ashes urn.

The story of the Ashes and how it began was quite incredible, with the term the ‘Ashes’ first used when England lost to Australia in 1882 at the oval, as a mock obituary to the English cricket team. A lady, who would later become the wife of player Ivo Bligh, made the Ashes real when she burned the bails and placed them in what is believed to be a perfume bottle. It was later given to Bligh as a gift when England defeated Australia in the following test. That urn now sits in the Lord’s Cricket Museum. We spent roughly an hour walking around while our tour guide shared stories of Lord’s significance and some cool facts about the MCC membership and pavilion – the Long Room. We finished up by watching day four of the cricket which was being played by Middlesex and Glamorgan.

After Lord’s a small group went down to Westminster, central London, to finish our sightseeing. We hopped onto the tube and headed to the Westminster Bridge to check out Big Ben from the bridge. While we were there, we took some nice photos and saw the London Eye. Once we’d finished there, we headed down Whitehall and past 10 Downing Street – the British Prime Minister’s residence. On our way past we took some more photos at the Royal Horse Guard Parade. We continued walking until we got to Trafalgar Square, where we had a break and some more photos with the famous Lions and the fountains. We then made our way to Piccadilly Circus to have some shopping time with the other group.

Most of the group headed into London central by the tube after Lord’s and did some shopping for a few hours before going back to the hotel to get ready for our West End show, Back to the Future. The musical, based on the movie, is set in the 1980s and follows a boy named McFly who travels back to the 1950s in a time-travelling car invented by a scientist, Dr Emmett. He inadvertently alters the past, jeopardising his own existence by interfering with his parents’ younger selves. Dr Emmett must find a solution to rectify the timeline and return McFly to the future, averting the disastrous consequences of tampering with time. The musical was really entertaining and enjoyed by all. It was then time to head back and pack the bag, ready to head to Lille in the morning – our final leg of the trip.

Day 13: To Lille and the Western Front

By Billy Twaits, Hunter Vansomeren, Shannon Taylor and Hunter Tudball

Today, the day started off early for some. After we had breakfast, we got on the St Pancreas Eurostar International Train to Lille. We were picked up from the station by our tour guides, René and Carl, who took us to an old stable where we had some food and refreshments.

We then headed off to The Western Frontline, where we learnt about those who fought and fell in the ‘Battle of Fromelles’, 19-20 July 1916. Whilst we were there, we stopped at the VC Corner Australian Cemetery, Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, and the Cobber Memorial Park, admiring the amazing statue called the ‘Cobbers’ – a masterpiece of Simon Fraser lifting one of his fellow soldiers to rescue.

During the war the Axis (Germans) were up to having a truce, so that the Allies could come and collect bodies from no man’s land, but the General for the Allies wasn’t up for it. The heroic Simon went against order to save his fellow comrades. Simon recalled hearing someone say “don’t forget me cobber” – that’s where the name of the statue comes from.

We then travelled to the Museum of Fromelles where it showcased the living arrangements during the war, the clothes and what it was like to go through WWI. They also showed a water flask they used in the war, hand grenades, small rockets, and gas masks of the time.

The Battle of Fromelles was an infamous battle of the war – the first major battle fought by Australian Troops on the Western Front. A military operation which was meant as a ploy to hold off the Germans turned into a blood bath, in which the Australian Fifth division had more than 5,550 casualties.  Sadly, many Aussies lost in war do not have an official gravesite as they have never been found after the war. Amongst those missing soldiers from Fromelles were two Old Paddy boys – Sergeant Vincent Michael Grogan and Private Raymond Leo Woodhouse who are remembered at the VC Corner Memorial.

We continued onto our next stop, the Plugstreet 1914-1918 Experience, where we had a walk through the museum and watched a short film which gave us a good introduction to the war and how it all began. We wandered up to the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing, another war cemetery in which ex Paddy boy Second Lieutenant James O’Brien rests. We listened to his story and paid our respects.

We finished the day off by checking out the Monument of the Christmas Truce, a controversial story in which the war stopped for Christmas Day and soldiers from both parties joined together for some Christmas carols and a game of soccer. Finally, we visited the Island of Ireland Peace Park before heading to our accommodation at Peace Village, where we dug into some spag bol and played some soccer to finish the night off.

Day 14: The Western Front, France/Belgium

By Deacon Towk, Noah Butler, Archie Tood, Noah Svanosio and Ollie Daykin

We began our day with the crisp morning air and the warm embrace of the sun, setting off early for a day of reflection and remembrance. Our first stop, Hill 60 – the Battle of the Mines, revealed the harrowing tales of bombings and tunnelling strategies of the past, reminding us of the sacrifices made in war. As we walked, we encountered a solemn memorial dedicated to the first Australian tunnelling company, an emotional reminder of their bravery.

Moving on, we visited cemeteries where the fallen heroes lay at rest, reciting the Ode of Remembrance at the graves of Old Collegians including Private Thomas Joseph Cashman, Gunner Laurence Francis Carmody and Private Patrick James Mahoney, and paying homage to recipients of the Victoria Cross including Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries and Sergeant Lewis McGee. The Hooge Crater Museum was an interesting site, with its extensive collection of WWI relics and old artillery shells, providing further insight into the past before we paused for lunch at the café.

Continuing our journey, we stopped at Polygon Woods to admire the ‘Brothers in Arms’ memorial, a testament to the bonds forged in battle. An emotional story of two brothers and their journeys in the war. Exploring a German bunker from WWI, we witnessed the scars of conflict etched into its walls. Further visits to cemeteries reinforced the solemnity of the day, culminating in our visit to one of Belgium’s largest cemeteries.

In the city of Ypres, we took a moment to walk its streets and reflect, before having some delicious Flemish Stew. We then attended the daily Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, where Belgian soldiers pay tribute to the fallen. Some of our boys took part in the ceremony by laying down wreaths to pay respects on behalf of the College. The day’s events were a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made for freedom, as we honoured the legacy of those who came before us.

Day 15: The Western Front, France/Belgium

By Noah Quick, Riley Westlake, Zavier Nunn, Max Kinniburgh and Toby Dixon

Today, we woke up for our final morning in Belgium and the final day of our incredible tour. Once we had packed and had breakfast, we left for another day of sightseeing. Our first stop was A.I.F. Burial Ground in the Somme area, where we were told about the story of an Old Boy of SPC – Major George Matson Nicholas and as a group we had the opportunity to pay our respects. Our tour guides René Dregryse and Carl Ooghe did an exceptional job at delivering specific stories that relate back to our local communities of Ballarat and St Patrick’s College.

After leaving the burial ground, we moved to the outskirts of a small village named Pozières. This site was Australia’s most fatal location. For the battle of approximately 100-200 meters of land, 7,000 men were killed.

We were fortunate enough to visit a number of meaningful war memorials and burial sites throughout our tour, but today René and Carl showed us the famous Australian National Memorial wall to the missing in France. At this Memorial was the Sir John Monash Centre – a cutting-edge multimedia centre reveals the Australian Western Front experience through a series of interactive media installations and immersive experiences.

The experience is constructed so people can gain a better understanding of the journey of ordinary Australians — who were sent to fight for their country and our freedom. Being able to reflect upon these experiences and many of the headstones creates an unfathomable image of what it was like to experience the war, and how the scars still run deep in many of our veterans and their families.

One of our tour guides said, “Don’t see them as headstones, but rather as a story. A person with a mother, father, brothers, and sisters. A life much like ours.” This experience truly puts into perspective how lucky we are to be able to experience not just France and the Western Fronts, but everywhere we have been able to visit on the Ireland tour and the freedom we have in modern day Australia.

At the end of the experience, we held a modest ceremony at the front of the tower, laying two flower wreaths in honour of all Australian soldiers who did not return home including five of ‘Our Bravest’ from SPC who are commemorated on the wall. Each student was then given a poppy to place on a grave of an Australia solider, encouraging them to take a moment to reflect on all we had seen. We then boarded the bus for the final time on the way to the airport.

Considering this is our last day, on behalf of the students, we would like to thank everyone who has put this incredible trip together. A special mention to Leonie Spencer and Howard Clark for organising everything we have been able to experience. To further that, thank you to the nine staff who have supported this trip and allowed it to go ahead.