Home to Donegal 🎶

Posted By: DanaDiRenzo
Posted On: November 4th, 2019
Attending: Letterkenny Institute of Technology

As mentioned in my previous blog post, my adventure with the St. Eunan’s Gaelic 4 Mothers & Others (G4MO) club was one of the best day’s I have had here in Ireland so far! Let me tell you, the women on this team are honestly so cool and so much fun to be around. Monica warned me that the day would be crazy, and she certainly was not joking – but I loved every minute of it!

To begin the day, we all met outside Mt. Errigal Hotel (right around the corner from my house) to get on the bus at 10am. I still had no idea where we were going at this point – all I knew was that our match was at 2pm and we were getting dinner after. So, we began our 3-hour journey West and within the first 20 minutes or so, we realized that we left without Maria! The bus driver pulled over to the side of the road in Ballybofey and we waited for a few minutes so she could meet us – and thank goodness we did because: 1. She is an outstanding Gaelic player and we need her out on the field; 2. She is a great singer and led many of the songs throughout the trip; and 3…Well, I really just wanted to give her a shout out and say that it’s almost her birthday!

So we continued our trip and stopped in Sligo for some food before the match. Here, I found out that we were on our way to a town called Knockmore in Mayo County to play the G4MO team there. Clearly, I had no idea where that was, but hey now I can say that I’ve been to Mayo County!

We arrived in Knockmore around 1:30pm and started to get equipped and warmed-up for the match. I now own my own pair of Gaelic gloves, but still used Monica’s boots and her son’s jumper to warm-up in (Thanks Killian!) Hopefully, I’ll continue to play next year and will invest in my own Gaelic gear! We played two 15-minute halves and we WON! It was a great match played by both teams and I had so much fun playing. Then we played one 10-minute game just for fun before heading over to the pub (which was literally in the same parking lot of the field we played on!) The Knockmore team was so generous as they had a whole spread of little sandwiches, muffins, pies, and tea for us afterwards. And of course, we were at a pub so a few pints had to go around to celebrate the win, too!



After mingling at the little pub in Knockmore, we ventured out to a nice restaurant called “The Cot and Cobble” in Ballina for dinner. They had a table set up with custom menus (see below) just for us! Thankfully, we were placed in a separate room away from the other restaurant patrons since there was a lot of loud singing and story-telling taking place! While we waited for our meals, Teresa had us play a game (I can’t remember exactly what it was called, but something along the lines of “Unwrap the Parcel”) where the first person attempted to unwrap a gift wearing oven mitts while the next person was rolling a die. Once the person rolled a 6, the gift and the die had to be passed over to the next people who attempted to unwrap it and roll another 6 (confusing to explain in words, sorry!). Long story short, the gift was a variety pack of mini boxes of cereal – but the point is that it was really fun to watch everyone struggle to unwrap a pack of cereal with oven mitts in the middle of a restaurant! Then, we finished dinner and dessert and headed back to the bus. Little did I know the night was just getting started.

So, I get settled in my seat on the bus for the ride home. The next thing I know, I look up and see a Panda walking down the middle of the bus aisle. Yes, that’s right – a Panda. To be honest, I have no explanation for this part of the night – I’m not even sure how Katrina got the Panda suit on the bus without anyone seeing it! It was definitely the highlight of the night, though. I mean, who doesn’t get a kick out of a random Panda walking around in public???

We did, eventually, begin to make our way back to Letterkenny, Panda and all. The bus ride was full of laughter, traditional Irish songs (current songs, as well), and a few pints. About halfway back, we stopped at a shop in Sligo for a bathroom break. And it is most DEFINITELY a small world because while I was waiting in the shop, I turn around and see Dom Uhl (my German/US housemate) walking towards me! We stared at each other in disbelief for a minute before we acknowledged each other. The LYIT Donegal boys had played a game in Limerick that night and just so happened to stop at the SAME place at the SAME time as we did! Crazy, right?!

After catching up with about half the men’s team in Sligo and taking a photo with the Panda, we hopped back on the bus. I really didn’t think it was possible for us to make one more stop on the way back (poor Charlie, the bus driver), but we did and it was another great experience! We stopped at a pub called “Biddy’s O’Barnes” about 30 minutes away from Letterkenny – and this was a true, Irish pub. We walked in while a man was telling old Irish stories on the microphone (true stories!) and, although we might have been a bit rowdy, a lot of the people there seemed to enjoy our presence. Especially, the 88-year old woman sitting against the wall, who happened to be on her third whisky! She loved the Panda and you could tell she really enjoyed talking to some of the girls. There was also an open fireplace in the middle of the bar, which was really cool and something I’ve never seen before!

Biddy’s O’Barnes was definitely a great way to end the night. We made it back to Letterkenny around midnight and Brian kindly dropped me off at Shalom House. I was definitely ready for bed after our long, adventurous day!

Again, I can’t thank the St. Eunan’s G4MO ladies, Eamonn and Brian enough for allowing me to be a part of the team. Also, I want to thank Monica again who was the one to get me out on the field and introduce me to everyone! It has truly been one of my favorite parts about being here in Ireland and has been a great experience!

Let’s see where this little Gaelic career of mine takes me next! 😉

Traveler Tips:

#14: In Ireland, Bachelor and Bachelorette parties are called “Stag” and “Hen” parties (respectively). Who knows…maybe I’ll have my “Hen” party out here whenever I get married!!

#15: This one is courtesy of Audrey from the G4MO team – Apparently, American and Irish toilets are manufactured slightly differently. That’s all you need to know 😬

Thanks for reading!

-Dana D.



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