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Week 4: Embracing Ireland and its Sports

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Each new week I’ve been in Ireland has brought new cultural aspects and characteristics that contrast to what I’ve experienced in my first 21 years living in the United States. This week, amongst many other experiences, I’ve tried to involve myself in the culture and sense of unity behind Irish sports. This feature of Irish culture differs greatly, in my experience, from what you see in the U.S.

But I’ll get into that later in this post. First, I’ll go through my school week. 

Once again, I have to comment on the flexibility in class schedules here. Since I’m only taking 4 courses, I have time (almost every day) to go to class, get some assigned reading done, and still take time to explore and relax. That’s something I find really valuable. When I have more time outside of class, I’m less stressed about getting work done, and therefore I get more involved in each class assignment and reading than I normally would. This has been true this week, as I’ve spent extra time contemplating and really trying to understand different ideas and perspectives being emphasized in each class. That may sound a bit nerdy, but I believe it’s going to be a valuable skill down the road. 

What’s also nice about a flexible schedule? Outside of class, I still managed to have quite a lot of fun.

Tuesday night, I went to the Stag’s Head, a three-story pub with music at the top, comedy in the basement and beer on all three floors (obviously). When I heard some friends were going and that they have a free comedy show Sunday-Tuesday nights, called the “Comedy Crunch”, I got really excited. There’s nothing better than a night of laughter. Except for free laughter (though you should give them donations).

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We chuckled almost nonstop as three Irish comedians and an American headliner went through bits about Tinder, living in Dublin, and the different nationalities in the room… even targeting specific members of the audience for some hilarious slagging (Irish word that describes borderline offensive but good-natured teasing). The American guy was especially funny, as he made fun of our group for attending a “fake college” when we told him we went to Griffith. I think it’s safe to say Comedy Crunch will be a weekly event for me. 

One major highlight from this week was attending the Ireland vs. Germany European Qualifier football game at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium (folks in the U.S. call it soccer of course). Never having attended a football game, or knowing much about the qualifiers, I felt like this was something I had to experience, even if it was a little pricey. I had been told how insanely fun and excited Irish football fans are, but I had no idea. They go crazy, man. This video was taken at a hotel/bar near Aviva before the match.

 

The stadium is a pretty incredible piece of architecture also.

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I picked the right night to go as the perseverant Irish underdogs won in a shocking 1-0 victory against Germany (who were the last team to win the World Cup). This created an insane atmosphere at Aviva Stadium, and had all of Dublin shaking and cheering excitedly. What made it even more interesting is that I went to the game with 10 Germans from Griffith. They weren’t as excited. 

Here’s a video from the moment the clock ran out and Ireland claimed its win:

 

The next day I went to see the Book of Kells and the Old Library at Trinity College with my Irish History and Culture class, which was awesome because our professor gave a ton of background and context on the book before going, making it more relevant and interesting. You can’t take pictures of the Book of Kells, but it is an incredible piece of art worth seeing. The devotion and passion of the monks who created it is unimaginable. I did, however, manage to snap a few photos of the library, which is a beautiful room itself. 

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On Saturday some of our American group took a short bus ride to Howth, a fishing village 30 minutes outside Dublin. It’s a quiet, quaint little village accompanied by some nice hikes and awesome landscapes. We spent a long day hiking and exploring the area, and afterwards grabbed some pub fare and drinks at the Summit, a local-filled pub situated at the top of the mountains. 

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We were all exhausted after hiking through the day in Howth, and after getting back to Griffith around 8, I watched a film and caught up on some much needed sleep.

Sunday was another big sport day, as Ireland played France to advance to the Rugby World Cup. While I don’t quite grasp the rules of Rugby yet, I find it really exciting to watch, so I went to the pub down the street to watch the game amongst more excited Irish fans. Despite early injuries to some of Irelands key players, they still pulled out a victory against France.

I guess I’m lucky that I’ve only really witnessed Irish fans celebrating wins, rather than mourning losses. But the amazing thing was, even at the pub, fans were just as excited and rowdy as if they were at the game in person. THIS is a key characteristic of Irish sports that I really haven’t witnessed in America. There’s a stronger sense of unity, respect and love between everyone watching the game, no matter what team you support (even the French fans in the pub had to applaud at Ireland’s victory). That’s not the case in American football, where you usually see nothing but trash-talk and disrespect being thrown from both sides of the field. I’m not hugely into sports back home (except baseball) because of this quality, but here I could definitely see myself watching just about every Irish rugby and football game. 

Thanks for reading. Onto next week!

 

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