One of my favorite experiences during my time here in Dublin so far was traveling outside the city, by bus, to an indoor skate park called Flip Xtreme. Before venturing out, I connected with some of the local rollerbladers through the skatepark’s Facebook page. They seemed very welcoming and eager to meet me, which made me feel more at ease about my lonesome adventure over an hour out of city limits.
I was very nervous about catching the right bus, and even more nervous about getting back to the city late at night from unknown territory. Lilly, Assistant Directors of Champlain Abroad’s program here in Dublin was a huge help to me. She helped me look up bus schedules and told me exactly what bus I would need to take and from where. Even with this help, I was asking every person I saw double and triple checking if I was en route to where I needed to be. The people that I spoke to were extremely helpful and understanding, all the way from Champlain’s campus, to where I got off of the bus in the small town of Celbridge.
While looking out of the bus window on the journey and walking through Celbridge, it struck me how quaint and peaceful the towns were. The main street in Celbridge was only about ¾ of a mile long, lined with mom and pop shops, small restaurants and pubs, and a beautiful church. Finally, after about 2 hours total in transit, I heard a voice behind me say, “Henry?” I turned around surprised, it was a man, around my age, carrying a pair of rollerblades, and I knew immediately that it must have been Colm, one of the people who had been very welcoming and helpful over Facebook. We walked and talked until we reached the skate park, he was local to the village of Celbridge and a very nice guy.
When we went inside, we were warmly welcomed by the skate park owner. Her and her son knew my name, they were expecting me to be there to skate with some of the local rollerbladers that night. They had a very outgoing and in your face type of personality, very funny people actually. It was a very small building, the skating area was very tight and, to my surprise, completely empty except for Colm and I. As the night proceeded, more kids showed up, all of which were rollerbladers and seemed to know the owner, Colm, and each other. This was much different from skate parks back in the states, which are usually over run with skateboarders and bikers. The theme stayed consistent through out the night, everyone was very enthusiastic to meet an American rollerblader and were extremely welcoming, they even invited me to skate again this week!
One of the highlights of the night was meeting these ten-year-old twins, also local to the town. These kids were so excited and motivated to be skating. They were taking harder falls than I was and just popping right back up and at it. They’re skill level was impressive for how young they were and they were full of questions about American culture and who I was. It was great to see such a strong rollerblading community in the area, especially seeing these little kids bringing up the next generation of our sport. They were super nice kids and actually asked for a picture with me before I left, which I found very funny, in a good way!
Over all this experience was very good to immerse in one of the local athletic scenes. It was really nice to go and adventure into a more authentic Irish town by myself and really stray from the “Champlain bubble”. This can be very difficult to do if you do not make a conscious effort. It is great that a passion like this can really unite people from all corners of the world. I am very excited to go out and skate in a new place with my new found friends this week and meet even more Dublin rollerbladers!
Henry S Schwartz
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2014
Champlain College, Environmental Policy and Business Administration 2015