After two years of intense and seemingly never-ending study, Leaving Cert students around the country have been ditching their school uniforms, packing their shorts and bikinis and heading off to celebrate in the sun.
For sixth years, the only thing more pressing than the Leaving Certificate is the holiday after it. This has become a rite of passage for school leavers. After the exams, students, many of whom are hopefully college bound, head off over the months of July and August for a holiday to remember. Too often though, it is a holiday to remember for all the wrong reasons.
The trip is based on two things: where the crowd is going and the cheapest place to stay. Last Wednesday, the night of the Leaving Cert results, two girls who had just returned from their sixth-year holiday in Crete had a string of intoxicating stories.
"One night, this man came up to our apartment and stripped off and walked around in the nude, stripping off. I flicked his dick. We nearly got kicked out from banging on doors at all hours of the morning. There is so much bed-hopping going on as well. Our security men said they would treat us like sisters but they only wanted to f**k us," said an 18-year-old girl.
Her friend, also aged 18 and from Dublin's northside, said: "One morning, coming home from a bar called Pog Mo Thoin at 8am, two of us got followed by these Dutch men. Taxi men are brilliant over there; they would allow up to 10 people in a car at once as we smoked our lungs out with music blaring and two Sex-on-the-Beach cocktails in our hands -- they let you do whatever you want."
The current top destinations for Leaving Cert students are 24-hour nightclubs in Ayia Napa in Cyprus; Hersonissos in Crete, a lively resort with a waterfront lined with music bars that never close; and Zakinthos in the Greek islands, which attract hordes of school revellers.
But there is a darker side to this fun in the sun. Stories of teenagers waking up the next morning to the reality of a tattoo after a drunken visit to a tattoo parlour the night before; of girls 'tonguing' two boys at a time; of revellers unconscious from drink, being held upright by friends -- stories such as these are commonplace on these sixth-year celebrations.
"I am going to get hammered and go wild. I am off to Ayia Napa but we want to come back alive and no pregnancies allowed," said an 18-year-old from Dublin, in the company of her friends.
"We're off to Ayia Napa so
a lot is going to go on, basically everything, which means sex, drugs and rock and roll," said a group of girls from a prominent Dublin school, who again stressed the importance of not getting pregnant abroad.
The people who feel they have not done so well in the exams go to more extreme lengths when they are away, said one young girl. It is as if they want to put their disappointment behind them and just go wild, she explained.
According to Clem Walsh, head of marketing in Budget Travel, 10,000 of 55,000 Leaving Cert students go on a sixth-year holiday. So that means 10,000 of those, who are probably travelling without parents for the first time, are going to witness and perhaps take part in this craziness where mishaps are commonplace, not occasional occurrences.
And it is not just girls who are at risk on these trips.
"What goes on on a sixth-year holiday leaves little to the imagination; drinking, drugs and the new one is rape. It happened to my friend on holiday this year and she didn't want to tell any of her family or friends as it would break their hearts," said one girl from south Dublin who did not want to be named.
"Another one of my male friends, who is just back from Crete, told us a harrowing story of him being chased home by a Greek man who was looking to rape him, and these men had approached all of his male friends, too. It happens every year, guys are becoming more at risk than girls," she added.
As far back as 2005, a warning about the dangers of "binge holidays" emerged when three teenage boys were raped on a Greek island during rowdy post-Leaving Cert celebrations.
The situation seems to to be getting worse each year.
Another girl said that her friend had an abortion after her sixth-year holiday last year.
She got pregnant after having sex with a stranger.
It would seem that for many parents, their fears for their teenage holidaymakers are justified.
Rose Tully, of the National Parents' Council, said: "The media coverage of what has happened in the last few years certainly would make parents very, very wary -- particularly when their children are going away for the first time and have no experience of travelling abroad.
"The reports we have seen, and judging by the photographs that have come back, are quite graphic as to what goes on and certainly it doesn't seem to be too desirable a place for any of our young people to go.
"I have heard people say it's an experience they won't forget and refuse to talk about it. Any time you have young people taking too much alcohol, they forget what they do but their actions always catch up with them at a later date in regards to unwanted pregnancies," she added.
And let's be realistic -- students are not angels when they are on these shores either.
Last Wednesday night, the streets of towns around the country reeked of urine and were dotted with pools of vomit from where young revellers had stuck their fingers down their throats to make themselves sick in order to sober up enough to drink some more.
As I stood outside a Dublin nightclub, one boy said: "Everyone in there is guaranteed on pills. I know that for a fact as I go there every Wednesday so you can imagine what tonight is like.
"I was not allowed into the club so I stumbled back to where I stashed my drink down by an office.
"I have been going back there to tank up. I was so sick from drinking so much that I have puked up foam from the can. I literally puked everywhere. I lost my mates so I just needed to get pissed."
Another girl, who was one of the few who partied away the night in a respectable manner, said: "The amount of people who have come up from Kildare and Wexford and other bordering counties is phenomenal, primarily to come here to this club." They come to get drunk and f**ked off their tits, what a waste.
" These country girls were behind us in a queue and they started asking us, when we were drinking in the queue, was there any ecstasy in our drinks and they weren't interested unless there was."