Author: Megan McCuen


I spent my summer living, working, and learning in Dublin, Ireland as part of the Irish Internship Programme. It was one of the most jam-packed summers in my life - but also one of the most incredible. I got to intern at Fighting Words, a creative writing center for kids, which offers workshops and camps for young writers in Ireland. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world! Want to get a peek into a day of my life on the job? Here’s an entry to the journal that I kept:

6:30AM - It’s time to rise and shine. I wake up early in an attempt to get some yoga in before I have to get ready. Usually though, this results in me pressing the snooze button until 7:20 and then scrambling to get ready for work.

7:45AM - After eating some of my favorite apple cinnamon granola (from M&S, my favorite grocery store in Europe), I am en route to work. It’s a 10 minute walk to the bus station, followed by a 40 minute bus ride to work. Luckily, the buses have WIFI, so I can use my ride to read articles and stay up-to-date on the news.

                                                                     megan_morning_writing_session

8:35AM - Since I’m a little early for work, I stop by Mountjoy Square - a historic park down the street from my workplace. I pull out my laptop and dive into my newest writing project. Since my days are so packed, it’s often hard to make time to write, but this forces me to get some writing done.

9:03AM - I get to my internship! First stop is the coffee machine, where I catch up with my Irish co-workers and find out the plan for the day. Today, we have a group of 5th class (which is like 5th grade in the States) girls coming in for a morning field trip. I get to work setting up for the field trip - setting up cushion for the students to sit on and putting supplies on tables. Soon, volunteers for the morning start to arrive, and I help them make coffee and ask about their lives. Fighting Words gets volunteers from around the world. While many are Irish, there are also volunteers from places like France, Hungary, Italy, England, Germany, and Canada. It is always interesting to hear about their lives and how they ended up in Dublin. Since Fighting Words has a small staff, volunteers are critical to having smooth workshops for the kids.

                                                                  megan_teaching_at_fighting_words

10:00AM - The class is here! Everyone gets to their places to welcome the kids. My job today is storyteller, which means I get to lead the session. I help them brainstorm elements of stories, introduce them to our cranky editor Mr. McConky, and guide them in making up characters for their story. As a group, we begin writing the first part of the story together. Today, they’ve thought up a story about a fish who can’t swim named Polly and her best friend Squirt the turtle. We leave the story on a cliffhanger, and the girls move to the tables to come up with their own endings with help from volunteers.

12:00PM - The field trip finishes up with the new authors getting to read their stories to the cranky editor who agrees to publish their stories, and each student gets to take home their own book. I am happily surprised to find out that there is no extra administrative work to do, so I get a rare afternoon off. I stop by my favorite grocery store (M&S) again to grab some food for the week, before heading back to my apartment on the campus of University College Dublin.

                                                          megan_hike

1:40PM - After eating my lunch, I realize how exhausted I am. (I spent the weekend hiking with other Notre Dame students at Glendalough, a beautiful mountainous area that is special to St. Kevin.) I decide to take a quick nap, so that I can have energy for this evening’s activities.                                                                

                                                                 megan_cafe_crawl

3:30PM - I’m heading back into Dublin city center with a few of my roommates for a new tradition we’ve dubbed “Café Crawl.” Since the cappuccino scene in Dublin is so perfectly on point, we’re trying our best to try out some of Dublin’s top ranked cafes. Today we head to Kaph, which is right beside the famous Georges Street Arcade. A few other Notre Dame interns from across Dublin join us. We catch up on our days at work while enjoying the award-winning coffee.

5:00PM - Time to head out to this evening’s experience. We head to Trinity University where O’Connell house staff is waiting for us. We hop on a bus and head to Sandymount, an area of Dublin that is right along the water. Notre Dame has provided us with sack dinners, which we eat on the beach. It’s a great chance to spend time with the whole group of interns in Dublin, and there are over 40 of us!

                                  megan_dublin_south_wall_light_house      megan_sunset                   

7:00PM - We start walking along Dublin’s South Wall, a long pier that goes into Dublin Bay. Sun is starting to set as we walk, and it’s beautiful. We use the red lighthouse at the end for a photo op for our group. Our director, Kevin Whelan, stops us to share some legends about the Dublin Bay and point out some sights we can see from the pier.

9:00PM - We head back to our apartments. My roommates and I gather in our kitchen for our usual evening chilling. Though we have all different interests, majors, and internships - we’ve become quick friends. We even started our own Instagram account.

11:00PM - I was never an “early to bed” kind of person, but since coming to Dublin, I’ve been in bed before midnight most nights. I’m completely exhausted, and this is just one day! I know that tomorrow means another non-stop day of teaching, exploring, and living in Dublin.

      megan_boyne_valley_trip     megan_belgium

Life as an Irish Intern was never boring. Each intern’s day was unique, getting to spend it at internships that ranged from working at the Department of Foreign Affairs, doing research at Dublin City University, or giving tours of the National Gallery. There were truly internships for every sort of interest - be it software engineering, social entrepreneurship, or poetry publication. Each day after work was filled with a different activity as well - be it a tour of the Dial (the Irish House of Representatives), a trip to the Abbey theater to see a play, or a lecture at the Royal Hibernian Academy. Even the weekends gave us opportunities to make the most of our time with planned weekend trips to places like historical Boyne Valley or the naturally beautiful Connemara region. We also had a few free weekends for independent travel, which led me on trips with my friends to Belgium and then later to Northern Ireland. If you are dreaming of a summer in Ireland, but also a chance to gain work experience, to know the people of Ireland, and to explore the culture and history of this beautiful country, take a look at the Irish Internship Programmes and start dreaming big!