“Moher” Than a Vacation

Editor’s note: In May, the Allegheny College Women’s Basketball team traveled to Ireland to explore the country and match up against Irish basketball teams. Zoe Soilis ’20 shared her thoughts on the trip and the team’s experience.

Going to Ireland with my teammates has been one of the most fun experiences of my life! It was such a cool experience for us to play basketball against Irish teams. When we first got over to Ireland, we went to see the Cliffs of Moher. This was one of the most beautiful places I have been in my entire life, and was one of my favorite places we visited on the trip. Later in the evening we went out to dinner and explored the cute little town of Lahinch.

Zoe Soilis, Rylee Donovan, Shannon Relihan, and Jules Skowron in Lahinch.

The next morning we traveled to Cork. We had a walking tour of the city when we got there. Cork is such a cute, smaller city. We learned all about the history of the city. After lunch we went to Blarney to explore the castle and kiss the famous Blarney stone. The Blarney Castle is very old and beautiful. Kissing the stone is supposed to give you the “gift of gab” which means great eloquence or skilled flattery.

The Blarney Castle.

Wednesday morning we went to a little town outside of Cork called Cobh (pronounced cove). We took a ferry to Spike Island, which used to be an old fort and prison. We had a lot of fun as our tour guide showed us around the old prison, and we had some free time to explore the old prison cells together. Later we played our first game against Glanmire Basketball Club. It was such a good experience to play against these girls and then talk with them afterward.

On Thursday, we made our way to Dublin. That evening we went kayaking through the river. It was definitely an interesting experience — some of us struggled in the kayaking department, but it was a good way to see the city. Friday morning we took a bike tour around Dublin. I thought it was a unique way to see what this city has to offer. That night, we played against Ireland’s top talent with the Irish U20 National Team, which was a great way to gain more playing experience for everyone on the team.

Saturday was one of my favorite days we had in Ireland. We learned how to play traditional Gaelic games; handball, hurling, and Gaelic football, and it was so fun to learn to play these games together. This was a great team-bonding event, and everyone’s competitive side came out. Later that evening we toured the Guinness Storehouse. This was very interesting to see how the beer is made and how the company impacts the whole country. I definitely showed my inner nerd here for the science behind it.

Team picture in the Guinness Storehouse.

Sunday, we saw a Gaelic match — hurling, which is like lacrosse but the stick is all wooden. This was really interesting to watch since we just learned how to play the day before. That evening we went to a dinner show to see traditional Irish music and dancing. This was a great way to see the Irish culture in a very interactive way. It was entertaining to see Shannon and Tully on stage dancing!

On our last day in Dublin before leaving, we competed in a scavenger hunt around the city. We were all confused at first but then it turned out to be so fun! We were walking around the city and talking to random people to get their help. My team (Shannon, Alex, Chloe, and I) ended up winning! For our last evening, we had our final game against the Liffey Celtics. I loved the opportunity we had to play Irish teams. I think it was such a unique experience that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. This trip has brought us so much closer as friends and as teammates.

Team photo during the bike tour of Dublin, in front of Love Lane.

For more on the team’s trip to Ireland: https://alleghenygators.com/news/2019/5/13/follow-womens-basketball-trip-to-ireland.aspx