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doors of Wexford

Saturday, 30th April

The Irish and their particular interest in certain sport events is crucial. Amongst the most important sports are Gaelic Football, Golf, Horse Racing and Rugby. Since neither me nor most of my friends have ever been to a Horse Race before, our Irish friend Martina organised for a bunch of Germans tickets for a day at the Horse Racing in Puncherstown.

Luckily, Martina gave us a lift to get to Naas, from where we took a bus shuttle to the actual race course in Puncherstown. So, in total, the four Germans, Johanna, Mona, Corina and me, spent the day with two Irish friends, Martina and Gerry, studying German and always keen to practice their German. Which is why we communicated in a crazy mixture of German and English :)

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Race Course in Puncherstown

Despite the pictures showing a nice blue sky, the weather that day was pretty Irish and changed basically every 5-10 minutes from rain to sun to wind or mixtures of those. Walking around the grounds, we spent our time mostly outside and tried nevertheless to stay as dry as possible – quite a challenge, but you get used to it.

The race course itself is very big and spectators can only really see the first 20-50m of it by themselves. To make sure, you’ll get all the details and can catch up with the races, everything is filmed and broadcasted live on big screens as it is usually done at sports events. The 7 different races that day had all various routes on the field – depending on length and kind of each one. Between 7 and 24 horses start in every race and the complete event had 4 race days.

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Corina, Johanna, me, Martina and Mona

One major thing about horse racing is the betting. There are different ways of betting and systems that work slightly differently, however, Martina and Gerry explained everything and we picked our first choices. During the day, we lost more than we won in total, but it was really exciting to watch the races and try to find good techniques to predict which horse has better chances than others and so forth.

Since I’m kind of a horse girl myself, even though I don’t do much horse riding anymore, the experience and atmosphere at the race course itself was interesting but I, personally, don’t want to support horses being treated like that. It might be natural for them to run a lot and maybe even race within their own group but this kind of competition seems to be to tough to be natural. 

Besides all the racing, the whole festival also included many booths for food as well as some for clothes or accessories for horses and equestrians, some crafts and art and many nice little things. After all, we had a fun day at the race course in Puncherstown and enjoyed it a lot to get to know another facett of Irish culture. Thanks Martina!

Thursday, 5th May

Only a few days later, already in the middle of studying for finals, Mona and me escaped from all the study stress for a day to Wexford Town. This cute, little town is located on the South-East coast of Ireland in County Wexford and it took us about two hours by train to get there.

Without a lot of preparation, we just got our train tickets that Thursday morning, entered the train and just relaxed for the travel time. Despite some dark clouds, it was mostly sunny and warm, which was perfect for a nice day in a coastal town.

We basically spent the day walking around the little streets, visiting some churches and joining a short historical tour around Selskar Abbey. The friendly man who showed us around, told us a lot about the development of the city, battles in and around the area and many more details on the things that happened some many centuries ago.

Later in the afternoon, we tried to explore the Wexford Opera House as well, since it is the National Opera of Ireland and the annual Opera Festival is well-known. However, the Opera House is in the middle of the city and well hidden behind usual house facades. From the distance, you can see the edge of different building in the middle of the city, but being right in front, you could actually miss it.

Nevertheless, it’s been a great break from studying in another nice corner of this small, beautiful island. Up until now, I’ve already seen a lot of the country, even though it is very diverse and you will always find new details…

… next time: roadtrip to the Counties Cork and Kerry – 5 girls in a Mini Cooper 😀

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Anna-Lena Oehmann

I am studying Musicology and British Literature at Bonn University in Germany and will spend my year abroad at Maynooth University near Dublin.