Olympic Celebration Tour creates stir in Dublin
With the first stop of the 2019 Olympic Celebration Tour having made its way to Dublin, Ireland – from 14 to 17 January – John Burns, the World Curling Federation’s Irish representative, shared the Irish Curling Association’s hopes of one day building a dedicated curling facility.
The Olympic Celebration Tour certainly made waves throughout many schools, where students got to interact with Great Britain’s Olympic medallists Anna Sloan (2014 bronze) and Michael Goodfellow (2014 silver), while testing out their curling skills.
John Burns reflected on how he hopes the Olympic Celebration Tour will impact curling in Dublin and the experiences of the participants:
“Ireland is an iceless curling nation. Although the Irish Curling Association won a World Senior Curling Championship in 2012, we did so without having curling ice anywhere in Ireland. All of our Irish Curling Association members are qualified by birth or parentage to play for Ireland.
“With that, we all learned to curl elsewhere and there are no members living in Ireland at present – getting a permanent ice rink would change that. Along with the Irish ice hockey and ice skating bodies, we have been trying to get a permanent rink for many years. We hope that the recent Olympic Celebration Tour has raised the profile of Irish Curling with all the other organisations who can help us achieve a rink. We certainly created a splash on social media.
“Dublin often has temporary Christmas ice rinks for skating. After negotiations with South Dublin on Ice at Tallaght Stadium we were offered a two-day slot at the end of the season. Stones, brushes, hacks and an Ice King were imported from Scotland.
“The World Curling Federation provided an Olympic Celebration Tour stop with World Curling Federation’s development officer, Darrell Ell and Olympians Anna Sloan and Michael Goodfellow. On the Monday and Tuesday, we visited two Dublin Primary schools – St Kevin’s and St Dominic’s – Roslyn Park Adult Training Centre and Dublin High School. These are two contrasting types of school. 140 participants had the chance to try Floor Curling.
“On Wednesday and Thursday 103 more pupils were able to come and experience curling on real ice and adult Come and Try sessions brought 50 people – some new to the sport, but some Canadian exiles who had travelled 100 miles from Belfast, Wexford, and Cork to join in.
“On Thursday we also had a wheelchair curling demonstration in which three wheelchair athletes – two members of the English wheelchair curling team and a recruited Come and Try person – beat three Olympic and Irish international curlers. Paralympics Ireland CEO Miriam Malone said “It was great to see at first-hand what could be a new Irish Paralympic Sport – it would give us great potential for development if Ireland get an ice rink.”
“Other special guests at the closing Come and Try were South Dublin Mayor Mark Ward, Olympic Federation of Ireland CEO Peter Sherrard, and representatives from Sport Ireland, Snowsports Ireland, and the ice skating and ice hockey federations.”
“Feedback from the schools was extremely positive. The head teacher of St Dominic’s wrote: “I absolutely loved the curling event today and the children had a really, really great time. Anna and Michael were superb and I thought they had a really good way with the boys. From the school’s perspective I cannot say how delighted we are when we can put people of such calibre in front of our boys. They will inspire some of them I have no doubt.”
“We also had great feedback from our Come and Try sessions:
- “I’ve watched curling for years but never thought I would get a chance to curl here in Dublin.”
- “I put my free newspaper down to dry the kitchen floor and noticed a news item about this event – I’m so glad I came up from Wexford.”
- “This is a fantastic sport – who do I lobby to get a permanent ice rink here?”
“We in the Irish Curling Association hope that a permanent ice rink will happen soon, and if so we will be happy to stage a World Curling competition – Dublin could be a new venue for curling in Europe!”
The Olympic Celebration Tour now moves to the United States for three more stops:
- 7-10 February: Black Swamp Curling Club, Bowling Green, United States
- 14 -16 March: Cape Cod Curling Club, Cape Cod, United States
- 17-19 March: Marlborough Curling Club, Westborough, United States
To engage with the World Curling Federation on social media follow it on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use #curling #wcfoct when posting.