Hello family and friends! After an eventful time at security in Dulles (they had to check each Gatorade package, but luckily, they all were able to come with us on our journey!) we arrived safely in Dublin at 10am. We met John, our bus driver and tour guide for the week, and headed to Cork. On the way through the beautiful countryside, we stopped for lunch at The Horse and Jockey Hotel, where most of the team enjoyed lasagna and chips. After lunch, we loaded back on to the bus, and took one more quick nap before arriving at our practice facility, which will also host our first game tomorrow evening. Coach Jamie led the team in warm-ups before Coaches Brad and Amy had the team work on shooting drills, developing an offense, and working on defensive strategies. Following practice, we were able to see downtown Cork on the way to our accommodations, located on the UCC campus. We dropped our bags off, enjoyed dinner on campus in one of the dining halls, and have all settled back into our apartments after a long day of travel. The girls are excited for their first game tomorrow (7:30pm), as well as our first excursion - the town of Cobh and then a ferry to Spike Island.
What an eventful day we have had in Ireland! We started with a brown bag breakfast in our apartments before hitting the road to the city of Cobh, which is known as the Titanic’s last port of call. When we arrived, we took a quick walk around, which included St. Colman’s Cathedral. Afterwards, we hopped on a ferry and went to Spike Island, known as Ireland’s Alcatraz. We started with a guided tour, where we learned about the island’s rich history, before having free time to walk around and explore at our own pace. Lunch followed this excursion, and then we hopped on the bus back to Cork to enjoy free time and shopping in the city. Finally, the moment we were waiting for - game time! We traveled back to the practice facility from yesterday to face our first opponents from Glanmire - we won a great game and were thrilled to see our girls working together. After the game, we feasted on pizza, chips, and homemade deserts, while exchanging gifts with our new Glanmire friends. The girls are now all settled back into their rooms, and are preparing for day 3 - we can’t wait to share more!
Today started off with a great breakfast, which was needed as we were about to embark on a long day of travels. After packing up our things, we said goodbye to Cork and headed to the Blarney Castle to tour the grounds and of course, kiss the Blarney Stone! According to legend, kissing the Blarney Stone, which is a part of the lower wall on the top roof of the castle, grants you the gift of eloquence - we are proud of all of our girls for braving the height and kissing the stone. Everyone got the chance to eat lunch and shop in the beautiful town before getting back on the bus for the 3+ hour drive to our next destination: Dublin. Upon arriving in Dublin, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and then hit the city! The girls enjoyed touring the Trinity College grounds and getting to do some shopping on the famous Grafton Street, as well as getting dinner. The girls are definitely tired after a day of travel and walking, but are excited to host the clinic tomorrow morning as well as have their second game in the evening. We are excited to share more with you on Day 4!
Another full day in the books that ended with 5 quarters of competitive basketball - but let’s start at the beginning. After breakfast, the girls headed off to run their free basketball clinic for local youth in the Dublin area. They traveled to the site where they would be playing their game later in the evening, the home of the Dublin Lions. The girls really enjoyed this experience serving the local Dublin community through teaching skills like passing, shooting, layups, rebounding and defense. Following the clinic, everyone grabbed a quick lunch before our Viking Boat Tour! During this interactive experience, we toured the streets (and the waters) of Dublin, all while wearing Viking helmets, and learned more about the city and its rich history. After the tour, the girls got to rest in their rooms before getting back on the bus and heading to our second game this trip. Our opponents asked us to play 5 quarters, and our girls won while really working on different skills. It has been fun getting to see them bond this trip both as friends and as teammates. This game, like the first one, ended with a pizza party and exchanging of gifts. Now, the girls are all getting settled back in their rooms as tomorrow we will say goodbye to Dublin, and take off to Belfast in Northern Ireland.
This morning, we bid a sad farewell to Dublin and headed to the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast. The first item on our agenda for our 3 day stay in the city was to tour the Titanic Experience Exhibition, which is located on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard (where they built the Titanic). This self-guided tour explains the history of Belfast and how shipbuilding played an important role in its economic development, the history of the Titanic itself and the company that built it, as well as additional insights into the design, sinking and aftermath. The girls grabbed lunch at the restaurants inside and then hopped back on the bus to head to our hotel - the Holiday Inn at City Centre. In the evening, the entire group walked to Victoria Square Mall to decide between the many different options for dinner (the girls opted for TGI Fridays!) The team really wanted to go see a movie, but because of our early wake-up call tomorrow to head to Giants Causeway, they decided to postpone until tomorrow evening after dinner. We can’t wait to share more of our experiences with you these last few days of the trip!
What a day, what a day! After eating a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel, we got on the bus for a 9am departure to Giant’s Causeway. The legend behind this beautiful landscape is that an Irish giant challenged a Scottish giant to a fight, so the Irish giant built the causeway to Scotland. However, when he arrived, he realized his opponent was much bigger and stronger than him. He ran back home, and his wife dressed him up like a baby in an attempt to fool his foe. When the Scottish giant arrived, and saw how large the ‘baby’ was, he thought that his opponent must be even bigger than him! So he ran back to Scotland and in the process, destroyed the causeway so that the Irish giant could not fight him. A lot of the girls mentioned that this excursion was their favorite part of the trip so far - we were all in awe of the beauty! We bought lunches on the way and picnicked on the rocks overlooking the Irish Sea. After a long hike through the causeway, we boarded the bus and headed back to Belfast, but not before stopping at the Royal Portrush Golf Club pro shop (home of the 148th Open golf tournament). Dinner was served at the hotel tonight and afterwards the girls either went to the movies or bowling! We cannot believe tomorrow is our last full day in the Emerald Isle - it has been an amazing trip, and we are looking forward to our final game tomorrow night! Go East Coast Stars!
To start our final full day, we had a great breakfast before our hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Belfast. Though we have had beautiful weather for the entire trip thus far, today we were able to see the usual climate for Northern Ireland - rain (and a lot of it). We enjoyed our tour and even hopped off at the peace wall, which separates a predominantly Republican/Nationalist/Catholic neighborhood from the Loyalist/Unionist/Protestant neighborhood. We ventured back to the Victoria Square Mall afterwards to have lunch and do a bit of shopping before heading back to the hotel to prepare for our final game. The girls played very well and it was a joy to see them having fun playing together; they brought home the victory, making them undefeated internationally. After the game, we went back to our hotel to clean up before heading to Pug Uglys for our last meal of the trip. The girls enjoyed their dinners, the desert of fried Oreos, and the live music (where they played mostly American hits). We have had such a fun trip - it will be sad to say goodbye to the girls but we are happy to see the many friendships formed.
Day 8 (travel day)
With a meeting time of 7:45 am, the girls had an early breakfast and then hopped on the bus by 8am so we could return to Dublin. We said a sad goodbye to our amazing bus driver John, and spent the next hour checking our bags, going through security and customs. We took off at 12:55pm and arrived a little past 4pm (EST) in Dulles. We are so thankful to have had an amazing group of players and young women to join us on this journey. Thanks to all for a great trip, and we hope you continue to stay in touch and that these memories will last a lifetime! Go Stars!!