It looked a bit like field hockey, only the stick was shorter and the ball bigger. Indeed, the kids and a couple of adults who knew what they were doing and served as instructors got a few stares Saturday afternoon. So did the bag pipers in their kilts and the step dancers, who in the absence of a hard wood floor danced on padding and occasionally the grass at Confreda fields.
The event, the city’s first ever “Half Way to St. Patrick’s Day” was organized by Laura Corbin, who, along with her son Devin, found Gaelic sports when he went overseas to compete in Irish dancing a few years back.
Active in the Irish community outside Boston and the Gaelic Athletic Association that plays hurling – the fastest field game that uses those sticks with a wedge-shaped paddle – Laura pulled everything together in about five weeks. What she loves about the Irish, she said, “is that it’s all about family and keeping together.”
“It went well, the people that attended had a good time and the players had a lot of fun, the hurlers had a great game. There was a lot of great feedback,” said Laura. “Overall we accomplished what we wanted and were able to put it together. We showed that it could be done, and we got the name out there and we gained some momentum,” .
The event celebrated Irish culture and athletics, including hurling, Gaelic football and Irish dancing. The Providence Hurling Club as well as local Gaelic football teams made the trip, while dancers from the Warwick Damhsa Irish Dance Studio performed for those in attendance.
Laura was encouraged by the turnout, which hosted parties traveling from all throughout Rhode Island and even some from Massachusetts.
“There were a lot of people there that didn’t know what was going on and what it was all about. We had people that heard the bagpipers and came to check it out, other people locally heard about it too, so it was a nice crossover. We had people from the Warwick area, Providence, even people from Massachusetts and as far south as Barrington,” said Laura.
The Corbins have already begun thinking of ways to improve next year’s event and have considered some new additions that can be thrown into the mix. Laura hopes to see Gaelic sports continue to grow in the Northeast, and to have this event become a staple on the local Irish athletics calendar.
“My pipe dream would be to have a team from Ireland come at some point, that is something we are looking into for down the road. We are already putting things on the Gaelic calendar, we also are looking to add some food trucks, more volunteers, more athletes,” said Laura. “We are looking forward to bringing it back and expanding it.”