Croke ParkCroke ParkCroke ParkCroke ParkDSC06055This morning we were able to “lie in” and didn’t have to be on the bus until 11 AM. Some students chose to sleep in, while others got up for breakfast and Sunday Mass. We had a two hour bus ride into Dublin for the Leinster MHC Hurling Final between Dublin and Kilkenny at Croke Park. Up the Dubs! Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic and Irish origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for over 3,000 years, and is considered to be the world’s fastest field sport.

We had been informed by our Irish friends, such as teacher Shona and our Irish peer students Eddie and James, that Dublin was the team to root for. Come on ye boys in blue! Upon arriving to Croke Park we could see that Kilkenny had its fair share of loyal supporters as well. The stadium was full of both team’s colors. Dublin being light blue and dark blue, Kilkenny being black and yellow, or “amber” as the Irish call it. Some of our students went all out and painted their faces or purchased blue headbands to show their Dublin pride. Unfortunately for us, Kilkenny was ahead the entire game and won by nine points. Thank goodness Ninny, Miley, and Taryn didn’t wager any money at Paddy Power on the game.

“It was great! All I knew was that Dublin was getting whacked, especially in the second half,” said Dylan-as we made our way out of Croke Park. Since learning about hurling and other Irish sports, some students have shown an interest in GAA and were curious to know if any of these Irish sports are played back home. In many cases, they are! You can do a google search for GAA clubs in your area. While at Croke Park, we ran into an ILE alumni from 2004, Eric Shadowens, and he told us how he discovered hurling during his ILE trip and has been playing ever since.

After a short walk back to the bus, we headed out for Kings Hospital, a boarding school just outside Dublin, also the campus we will be staying at when we leave for Dublin on Tuesday. “Kings Hos” as we call it, had dinner prepared for us; chicken or fish, potatoes, broccoli, a salad bar, and jelly filled doughnuts. Scones was a huge fan and ate four of them. It was nice to get a preview of our Dublin home.

Our bus ride home was full of chats, games, and even a few songs. As we closed in on Waterford, we spotted a full double rainbow, bright as can be. Our Irish friends thought we were a bit silly as everyone was suddenly up to the windows snapping shots of this “rare” sight. We got back to the Newton School around 9 PM. The students had a few hours of free time to hang out together in the common areas before going off to bed.

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Trip Dates: June 30-July 24, 2024