Ireland does not cease to impress me.
Our day today was jam-packed with sightseeing and company visits. This morning, we visited Remembrance Park, a park dedicated to the fallen heroes who fought for Irish independence from England. The park was very quaint but the lone statue was intense; the statue pictured people falling into a pool of water, symbolic of the blood that was shed to gain independence. The park helped me understand why the Irish are so prideful in their local products and innovations; they want to be unique and self-sufficient.
Following the park, we went to Croke Park Stadium, the third largest stadium in Europe and the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association. We toured the stadium, which was absolutely phenomenal. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and gave me inside scoops on the Gaelic games of hurling and football. The interesting part about the games is that players don’t receive salaries. Players only play for the counties where they were born, and they have real jobs outside Gaelic games.
Because players and fans follow the sport for their love of the sport and for their pride for their county, the energy surrounding the games way more personal than any NFL game. While the stadium was empty, I could feel the energy through my tour guide because of how passionate he spoke about his hometown sports.
The GAA itself is sometimes controversial since it makes a profit, yet pays none of the players and coaches. However, the Irish do not mind, since the love of the sport is because of the heritage and loyalty behind each team.
A representative from Croke Park talked about the business side of the stadium, and I specifically remember the importance of stakeholders in the GAA. Every fan, coach, bystander, player, and so many more have a large stake in the company because of the values that the sport is surrounded by. If people dislike the GAA for new policies or controversial decision making, then the association will collapse. The entire league is based on Irish pride. Without it, Croke Park will be a wasteland.
After the stadium, we went to the Irish Times Training Center. I really enjoyed learning how the Irish times is changing their business model to suit the modern world. Since the print industry is declining, the Irish times have re-designed their business model to provide different services to the public. The Irish Times created their own training center to help re-educate the Irish population to help employees update their degrees. The training center receives federal funding and also helps keep the Irish Times profitable. Also, the Times hosts events across the city to keep their brand name reputable. The Times prides itself on its responsibility and its research-backed information. The Times differentiates itself from national news publications because they provide well-researched information to their constituents. I was impressed with their business but also became worried for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Post-Gazette has not re-designed itself to stay relevant in today’s world. Unlike the Times, which now focuses on being an education service, the Post-Gazette still views itself as just a newspaper. While we cannot predict anything, I believe print newspaper will go out of business in the next few years. Hopefully, it’s not too late for the Post-Gazette.
Finally, we stopped at DAVEY, a financial firm in Ireland that helps businesses and individuals make smart investments and search for ways their business can help the surrounding community. We heard from one of their partners and also from a woman who created TechSavvy and found DAVEY to boost her product to the world. TechSavvy is a program for 15 to18-year-old girls that help them mature and compete in industries where women are underrepresented. The business owner was motivating and gave me advice for my future. She told us to develop our personal identity and to take advantage of the technology around us to create our own business. Entrepreneurship is about innovation. While new innovations do fail frequently, I have to learn how to be resilient and problem solve no matter what type of career I enter.
I learned not only about Irish culture and business, but I learned how to become a better person and differentiate myself from the rest of the world.