A group of nearly three dozen Eureka College faculty, staff, students and friends are currently on a 10-day tour of Ireland. We'll share their stories, experiences and reflections throughout the trip with occasional updates at eureka.edu and EurekaRedDevils.com.
Ellie Broyles (Aug. 9):
Today was a fun, eventful day and we were more rested so we could enjoy it. All the groups ended up splitting up to go to different things and I went to work a basketball camp with my team.
When first arriving we immediately were introduced to Jerome (Westbrooks) who is an Eureka alum and he was super nice and gracious so we felt right at home. It was very heartwarming to see Jerome and Mrs. Darnell's reunion too because they hadn't seen each other in so long.
Throughout the day at camp we were all able to help the kids with basic fundamentals of basketball so I think we all felt pretty useful during the camp which kept us busy. We worked on triple threat, jab steps and lay ups with the kids and they loved being around us because of our accents.
After the camp we went to Jerome's house for a cookout and it was a beautiful day outside. We got to meet his whole family and appreciated everything that he did for us.
After heading back to the hotel, we all got ready and went to the play, Jimmy's Hall, which was very emotional as it immersed us into the Irish culture of their history. The play was similar to an Irish footloose and it was a really cool experience to compare the musical to the movie we had watched earlier in class before we left for Ireland. Although there was only one set during the musical, they did a fantastic job of displaying the most important scenes of the movie and the play ended with a traditional Irish dance. I honestly felt like I understand how Ireland was in the 30s and it helped explain why certain things happened during the musical.
Altogether our third day was a success and we are eager for our day in Belfast tomorrow.
Ellie Broyles (Aug. 8):
Exhaustion -- that's the word I would use to explain these past couple of days. The classes and the basketball team met at Reagan to depart for O'Hare Airport and made sure all of the needed documents were filled out. We were all super excited for the trip and I could tell even on the charter bus on the way to the airport. Once we checked our bags and got through security, we all sat down and had a bite to eat.
I could already tell that it was going to be a long day and the flight proved my point with the simple fact that all of us had trouble sleeping on the seven-hour flight to Dublin. I think I might have gotten two hours of sleep and lucky for us, it was 7 a.m. when we got to Dublin so we had to start the new day with only a few hours of sleep under our belt.
With the constant moving from bus to hotel to another bus and the tours of Dublin and Guinness, all of us were struggling to stay awake which made learning the material a little difficult. Dublin is beautiful and it was mid-60s and sunny which made the double-decker bus really nice. After finishing the tours, we went to the oldest pub in Ireland for dinner and a show and it was a good time. The food was delicious and we got to listen to some stories about Ireland along with some Irish folk music which would have been perfect if we weren't all half asleep. Hopefully we will all be more rested tomorrow so we can enjoy the Irish atmosphere.
Hayley Reneau (Aug. 8):
The day started off kind of slow. We were all dragging from the six and a half hour plane ride from Chicago O'Hare to Dublin, Ireland. Once the plane landed we were all excited to see what was in store for us today.
First we got on the Hop On Hop Off Tour bus that lasted majority of the morning/afternoon. This tour took us around the city showing us the most historical places in Dublin. Some of those historical places included Oscar Wilde's childhood home, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Phoenix Park which holds the Wellington Monument and the Dublin Zoo, and to name one more historical place in Dublin that you cannot miss, the Guinness Storehouse. At the Guinness Storehouse we took the guided tour throughout the whole facility where we learned many facts about Guinness. Some of those facts include the ingredients that are used to make Guinness Stout which is water, barley, hops and yeast. Another fact is the beer is a ruby red color, where the roasted barely makes it that color.
To end our full day of tours around the city of Dublin we went to dinner at the oldest pub in Dublin, Brazen Head. It has been around since 1198! The pub had amazing food, and a great atmosphere. Between each course we had someone come and tell us about the Potato famine, and the beliefs behind the fairies. We also had a musical entertainment that I believed everyone enjoyed.
Now that I'm looking back on our first day here in Ireland, we may have been a little jet lagged all day but it was full of many historical facts and a lot memories that were made with the people we were with and I know for a fact that I'll never forget them.
Abigail Hilton (Aug. 9):
Today was a lot better as far as how energized I felt throughout the day. I could maintain a better focus and view more of the culture which we are surrounded by.
One of the first things the basketball team did was we went to volunteer at a basketball camp. Before entering the school, we were able to spend some time across the street viewing the Irish Sea and walking in the sand. It was surprising to see how quickly the tide was rising just within a couple minutes.
After taking some pictures, we went into the gym and prepared to assist with whatever we could. This camp was honestly a great experience and a lot of fun. I enjoyed spending time assisting coaching and teaching players important basics such as how to pivot and jab step. We also had the opportunity to join in a knockout game which was fun to watch as everyone competed and connected with one another.
Afterwards, the main coach, (Eureka College Hall of Famer) Jerome (Westbrooks) invited us to lunch at his home. While there we had the opportunity to listen to stories, enjoy a cookout, and spend time with his family. Then later this evening we went to see the play Jimmy's Hall. Having seen this movie before coming I had a lot of expectations and honestly it was interesting seeing how the play compared to the movie. For example, there was mainly one scene the entire time and there was a lot more dancing and singing in the play than there was in the movie; in my opinion, I felt the play was more emotional and it left me feeling drawn into the story. I am so glad we went to watch it. I feel as though it should be a must-see for anyone visiting Ireland because the audience was able to really connect and relate to the characters on stage; in other words, it was a great way to see more of the culture and history of Ireland.
Overall today was a lot of fun and I am excited to see what is in store for us tomorrow as we travel to Belfast for the day.
Amos Arbogast (Aug. 9):
Another great day in Ireland! After a short night's rest, we grabbed breakfast at the hotel and headed out and made a quick stop at the Irish Sea. It was low tide so we mostly just walked through muddy sand, but that wasn't going to stop our AD, Steve Thompson, from dipping his feet in the actual sea. He was nearly out of sight, but he eventually made it!
Next, we met up with Eureka College Hall of Famer and Alum Jerome Westbrooks. In addition to being one of the nicest people you will ever meet, Jerome has been running basketball camps in Ireland since 1983, and is retiring from directing and coaching camps at the end of this week. Our team was privileged to get the opportunity to help work his final camp and interact with some of the local youths. Perhaps the best moment of the entire day was when Jerome got his surprise gift ... a visit from Bonnie Darnall. It was a very touching moment that clearly meant a lot to both of them.
After camp was over, Jerome brought us back to his house and treated us to an Irish backyard BBQ of sausage and potatoes. We got to meet his entire family who couldn't have been more hospitable and friendly to us. We also learned that in addition to working his camp and hosting us, he was also preparing for his daughter's wedding on Sunday. Jerome is truly one of a kind and we are lucky to have him as a part of our Eureka family.
We hopped on a train and cleaned up in time to make it over to the Abbey Theatre, which is also known as the national theatre of Ireland. There we saw a play called "Jimmy's Hall" which was about a man named Jimmy Gralton who was involved in a time political unrest in early 1930's Ireland. After the play, we grabbed a late dinner and walked through the streets of downtown Dublin before settling in to our rooms for the night.
Tomorrow we leave at 6:30 a.m. to catch a train to Belfast. The only experience we seem to be lacking on the trip is sleep, but I suppose we can do that back in America. We're looking forward to another fun day!