Descending from above, the crystalline orbs glistened with the passion of the fiery culture that created them. Reflected for impact, the pride of the Emerald Isle coalesced into one piece of art.
Today was probably our single busiest day of the program. We visited three remarkably different businesses today: Croke Park, the Irish Times, and Davy Group. Our first stop was Croke Park, which is probably my single favorite trip now. I had a small familiarity with how the sports of Gaelic Football and Hurling were played, but I had no idea how important they are to the nation. We started by watching a video that gave a brief explanation of how the stadium operated and a stunning visualization of the cultural impact the finals have. Even without a great understanding of what was happening, everybody was incredibly moved by such a display of culture. Afterwards we walked through the back tunnels, a rather drab and empty corridor that nonetheless screamed with the memories of the action that takes place during games, from the players to the practicing band. We arrived at one of many highlights on our journey, the post match player lounge. This was the room where players from both teams go after a match to hang out as friends and equals. The amazing chandelier that I described above changes colors for both teams. It is made of 70 sliotars, the ball used for hurling, to represent each minute played and 32 Gaelic footballs, to represent all of the counties that compete. It is the only one of its kind, which is why they set up mirrors around it to maximize the views.
Next we went to the club locker rooms, where all of the kits for every county are on display, including a special table for the winners of each final from the previous year. From here we went to see the pitch, a massive field that would be able to host both the AFC and NFC championships in American football at the same time. The view was awe inspiring, as it is the 3rd largest stadium in Europe. The women’s Gaelic football final was the largest women’s sporting event in all of 2017 with 46 thousand attendees. They are hoping to set a world record with 50 thousand this year. One fascinating thing about the sport is that all of the players and coaches are unpaid. Everything is done out of love for country and pride for their homes. Players will travel hours to play for the town in which they were raised. There has been discussion about giving them a wage, but it has been decided that this would kill the entire spirit of the league and defeat the purpose of its existence.
After a very good lunch at the park, we went to the premiere newspaper in Ireland, the Irish Times. They discussed how they were a privately owned company so they would never have public interests distort the news. They have earned a great reputation for their thorough research of topics, yielding an exceptionally high quality. They also told the difficulties of being a newspaper as print sales have been going dramatically down hill. They have managed to maintain safety by being an early adopter of internet publishing and by purchasing smaller papers.
Our final visit was to Davy, a stock broker company. With them was a speaker from the Savvy Teen Academy who is a brilliant entrepreneur and wonderful thinker. The single thing that stuck out most was the importance of building our own brand. We need to figure out the three things about us that we want people to know most so that we can put our best selves forward at all times.
“What do people say about you when you aren’t in the room?”