A week of exciting adventures to report. Cork seemed to be making Irish history with a full week of cloudless skies and 80 degree weather. As a born and raised Floridian, I wasn’t complaining and enjoyed a break from the blustery rain.
On Friday of the previous week, my International Conflict Management professor took the class on a field day around the city. I quickly learned how little I know about Ireland’s history, specifically the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. We visited historical sights around the city and it surprised me to learn the tensions between the Protestants and the Catholics still exist. Despite my blisters, the tour was worth every minute and I learned gained some valuable historical knowledge.
Unbeknownst to me, the following Wednesday I was in for a real treat. The program directors arranged for the students to go rowing with the Naomhóga Chorcaí for some good craic. We loaded the bus and headed to the Shandon Boat club in the early evening, all eager and nervous for what the activity would require of us. As we pulled up and saw men and women hauling massive traditional Irish rowing boats down a steep ramp, it became clear that rowing down the River Lee with the Naomhóga Chorcaí was not for sissies.
I suited up with my gloves and life jacket, praying my noodle arms would withstand the challenge and not give out on me. My roommate and I were instructed to hop in one of the boats and before I knew it we were off. The instructors demonstrated how to hold the oars, keeping one hand on top of the other at all times. They stressed we had to watch the person in the front and follow the “rhythm”. I couldn’t figure out what “rhythm” they referring to as my knuckles were painfully clobbered by the wooded oars with each stroke. Again and again we started and stopped because my roommate and I couldn’t figure out how to successfully row in sync with the leader. Five minutes down the river and I couldn’t comprehend why anyone would subject themselves to this abuse.
After about fifteen more minutes of grunting and repeated apologies for ruining the rhythm, something clicked and we began to get the hang of it. If I carefully watched the leader’s oars and ignored the burning I felt in my spaghetti arms, I could keep in time and make smooth strokes in the water. The boat picked up speed and we passed a few of the other boats. The competitive nature of our instructors emerged and they shouted to go faster. I threw my body back and forth in desperation and watched as we neared close to the finishing point. After a few final thrusts and completely soaking my roommate with my poor paddling skills, we rolled into the docking area in first place.
I can’t say I’ll pick up rowing as a form of recreational fun, but I definitely enjoyed my time after getting down the movement. My roommate and I were pleased with our perseverance and rewarded ourselves with a large ice cream and a movie. Overall, it was a successful week here in Cork City.
Until next time,