Eureka College in Ireland: Aug. 9 Update

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.

Abigail Hilton, Sophomore, Moweaqua, Ill. (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.

Women’s Basketball Head Coach 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!

Ellie Broyles, Junior, Champaign, Ill. (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, Senior, Washington, Ill. (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.

Women’s Basketball Head Coach Amos Arbogast (Tuesday, Aug. 8, 5:30 p.m. CST)

Before I get into our first day, I want to first thank everyone who helped make this trip possible. Without the generosity and support they provided, these great Eureka College students wouldn’t have gotten this amazing opportunity.

Today was jam packed with a lot of action and no sleep. Our flight left Chicago at 6:40 p.m. CT and everyone tried their best to sneak out a little sleep on the plane, but that proved to be difficult with excitement at an all time high.

After arriving safely in Dublin, we quickly dropped off our luggage at the hotel and off we went. First, we took a very fascinating bus tour of Dublin where we were able to see many of the historical sites the city has to offer. After a quick lunch we headed over to the Guinness Storehouse and learned about one of the most recognizable brands in the world and the cultural and economic impact it had on the city of Dublin. 

Finally, we visited “The Brazen Head” which is Ireland’s oldest pub. There we ate dinner while also being educated on the history of the common Irish man and the myths and stories that shaped Ireland’s culture. With everyone completely out of gas, we all went back to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow, which should be another exciting day in Dublin!


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