It’s a memory most of us can relate to – stone walls, drizzly weather and spaghetti hoops on toast. Tá cuimhní cinn ag Ryan ar an dtréimhse a chaith sé i nGaeltacht na Gaillimhe agus é i mbláth na hóige!

As secondary school students all over the country head off to the Gaeltacht this summer, Ryan took us back to his own time in Irish college in 1987 via letters he sent to his late dad when he was 14 and away from home for the first time. 

Things haven’t changed much since Ryan’s time, although health and safety officers might have something to say about the turf.

"This morning we had to shift three-quarter tonnes of turf into the shed. We missed class but we got an hour’s sleep in, then we came in and had chicken soup and chicken and potatoes, peas and rhubarb and custard for dessert. Thank you very much for your £2 which bought me curry chips and the stamps of this letter."

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Irish college is an important rite of passage and a place for many firsts, and lasts, as it turned out for Ryan.

"I couldn’t believe it but I got into the sea yesterday and swam," he proudly revealed to his father, but, as with many love affairs that had their genesis in the Gaeltacht, this one was short-lived. "It was freezing…  I will never get in again."

It wasn’t all dips in the sea and milk and biscuits after the ceilí for Tubs. On a day trip to Galway, Ryan got to experience the dark underbelly of Gaeltacht life.

"When we were on the bus waiting to leave from Galway, we heard a sound of glass smashing. We looked around and saw the window of the back of the bus was done in. We then saw three guys who had been standing around aged 12 to 14 running. Then followed a chase where about 10 guys from the other coach ran after the thugs but without success."

Luckily Ryan wasn’t too scarred from his brush from vandalism. In the next sentence, and true to form, he informed his father, "In the shopping centre, I bought Jeffry Archer’s book A Quiverful of Arrows. I was dying for something to read." 

Some things never change.

Listen back to The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1 above.