Category Archives: Champlain Craic

All Things Irish Sports

By: dylan helstien, ’17 // Professional writing

Hurling ball and Hurley

Hurley stick and sliotar – part of the Irish sport of Hurling

Hurling, is one of the three famous Gaelic or Irish sports. If you asked me about it before coming to Ireland I would have no idea about Gaelic Football, Handball or Hurling. Only now I know Hurling is one of the most interesting and fun to watch sport out there. Imagine the aggression of lacrosse with the agility of rugby and speed of baseball all played out on a soccer field with the point system of football (there are two goals, one with three points and the other worth one point). Each player has their own hurley, a hockey type stick, but instead of being played on the ground like hockey, the sliotar (leather ball), is hit with the hurley towards teammates in hopes that they will catch it with their bare hands before running it up the field or passing it on. The sport is full contact and the only padding they have is the recently added helmets to protect them from the hurleys, which are handled like baseball bats. Sounds terrifying if you ask me.

Champlain Abroad Dublin was kind enough to introduce us to this sport by giving us the opportunity for first hand experience through the coaches of the Dublin company Experience Gaelic Games. We began with learning the rules of the game (there aren’t many rules) before being thrust into a game ourselves. Of course, we were only playing against each other so it wasn’t the most thrilling game as we struggled to get the ball off the ground, but nonetheless, it was exhilarating.

Champlain students experiencing Irish sports in Dublin

We were also taught how to play Gaelic football, which is basically rugby but with a soccer ball, before being able to play a game between ourselves. Having played soccer for most of my life I would have guessed I would like Gaelic football more than hurling but with recent experience playing volleyball I kept trying to set and spike the ball, go figure. Although it was a great experience I think I’ll stick to watching the sport. Something that would actually come to fruition as Champlain Dublin staff worked out a deal on tickets to a game at Croke Park.

Everyone who was interested in going to the game met up in city center before making the short trek to the stadium. The closer we got to the stadium the more exciting it all became as street vendors selling merchandise became more frequent and the roar of the crowd grew louder. Once we found our seats it was easy to jump right into the game. There was two games, the first game was hurling and the second was Gaelic football both of which were between County Dublin and County Cork. Of course, we wanted County Dublin to win as any true Dub would. The stadium was full of Dublin fans decorated in the Dublin colors of blue and navy. There was always a good laugh when a diehard fan would start yelling profanities in true Irish nature at whichever player they believed wasn’t doing their best. It was even more funny when we turned around to see the diehard fan was a young teenage boy.

Croke Park Dublin

Champlain Abroad students attending a Gaelic Football match in Croke Park, Dublin.

The first game was really fast as each half of the game is thirty-five minutes long and they don’t stop the clock for anything other than halftime, something I really appreciated. American sports stop the clock every 10 seconds, meaning one game can last up to 6 hours. Not only did the time go fast because they didn’t stop the clock but the ball is constantly moving with the players elbowing, tripping, and shoving their way to victory. How could you not watch? There’s something about watching players rip each other apart to win a game all in good fun. It’s also fascinating to see them hit the ground like a freight train only to bounce back up and run for the ball. I couldn’t help but compare them to every soccer player who gets a boo boo. The players reminded me of one of my Irish professors who told me that the Irish are resilient. Continue reading

The Pub Culture in Ireland

If I could fit one abstract object into my suitcase and carry it back to Boston with me—besides Ireland’s incomparable beauty—it would be the country’s pub culture.
A night out on the town in Dublin can be exactly the night out everyone needs: relaxed. Champlain Abroad students are fortunate to be living in a city that is compact enough to walk no more than twenty minutes to a pub, and that there is an endless array of places to visit! After a long week of classes, sometimes the sweetest reward is a pint and trad music.

Most pubs host traditional music sessions every night!

Pub Culture in Ireland – Most pubs host traditional music sessions every night!

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Irish Vernacular

My semester with Champlain Abroad Dublin is rapidly coming to an end. It has gone by way too fast and I’ve had such a fantastic experience. I have learned so much and being in Ireland has allowed me to see amazing things, both on the island and in the whole of Europe. I’ve been so lucky.

One thing I’m also very happy about is a set of souvenirs that I’ve picked along the way during my time here. Even better, these things aren’t something to try to fit into my already-full suitcase! Over the course of my semester abroad, there are a few select Irish words and phrases that my friends and I will definitely be adding to our vocabulary.


Finals Work to Do

I’ve got so much fecking work to do for finals.

This one is really interesting. It bears a similar usage to a similarly spelled curse word, yet does not share the strong negative connotation. In fact, it’s a fairly neutral/mild word. One professor even told me it’s the kind of word his sister uses in front of her young children.

Having a socially appropriate way to add emphasis to a word or sentence, in the way people often do with feck’s counterpart, is not only fascinating, it’s also fairly handy. Maybe not for everyday use, but feck will definitely be kept in my repertoire of Irish words to use in the future. Continue reading

Inaugural Inter-College Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

On a sunny evening in Dublin, the inaugural Inter-College Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt was launched in St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of the city. Teams of study abroad students from Champlain College and Duquesne University raced through the streets following clues to find the famous monuments scattered throughout the old Georgian section of the city.

Inaugural Inter-College Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt hosted by Champlain Abroad Dublin

Participants of the Inaugural Inter-College Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt hosted by Champlain Abroad Dublin

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Wine and Poetry

THE POPULAR OPINION AMONG MOST COLLEGE STUDENTS is that poetry is dead. However, in the cozy basement of Champlain Dublin, we experienced how truly alive poetry is. Our small group of ten or so students huddled together with our short glasses of wine and welcomed guests of honor, award winning contemporary poet Stephen James Smith and renowned musician Enda Reilly. The pair performed pieces both solo and together, blending spoken word poetry with music. For many, it was the first time we had heard a poet recite something while someone sings in tandem and the performance was seamless; Smith’s steady and solid performance of spoken word combined with Reilly’s artful renditions of both classic and original songs was truly a magical experience.

Wine and Poetry hosted by Champlain Abroad Dublin

Wine and Poetry event by Champlain Abroad Dublin

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The Home of Halloween

On the week before Fall break, students got ghoulishly greedy for candy and all things superstitious and spooky in the build up to Oiche Samhain (Gaelic for Halloween). Spirits were raised as the Academic Center was transformed by the students in a devilish layer overcome by swarms of bats, cobwebbed corners, and hellish creatures. Pumpkins […]

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Royal Albert Hall celebrates Irish culture with a Champlain link.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins was recently in the United Kingdom for a state visit with Queen Elizabeth.  This visit was rather a big deal given the history the two countries have shared, and the visit will likely go a long way towards a reconciliation. One of the events during the visit was a concert […]

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The Story of How the American Students Revolutionized Gaelic Games

Last Saturday, March 29th, Adam Clark, the activities coordinator here at Champlain Abroad Dublin, set up a day for students to revel in the wonder of the Gaelic Games. A group of about 20 of us all met up in the lobby of the apartments around 11:45 and headed down to O’Connell Street to catch […]

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Wine, Poetry, and Some Music Thrown in for Good Measure

Last semester Champlain Abroad Dublin held their inaugural Wine and Poetry night. The event last semester was spearheaded by the students and included students from NCI, the National College of Ireland. This semester, on the heels of the successful night from last semester, the staff here in Dublin set up another poetry event. Joining us […]

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Happy at NCI

A fire breather, a guy doing backflips in a Pikachu onesie, and over a hundred college students going crazy; these were the highlights of my Wednesday a few weeks ago. A few semesters ago, Champlain College formed a closer bond with the National College Ireland, and the two have been sending students back and forth to various student […]

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