In our interview series we take the time to get to know our players and members and get a little insight into their lives. We find out about their experiences of Gaelic football and hurling, how they came to the sports, their experience with the Celtics, life in Germany and in particular about life in our „Domstadt“.
This time we have our first female interview: Meet Bernadette from Cork (baiiiii!) who has some funny stories to tell.
What brought you to Germany?
I came to Germany for work. I had plans to move to Canada in March 2020 but like everything else, that didn’t go ahead because of Coronavirus. Out of that, the opportunity to move to Cologne for a project came about and I jumped at the chance.
How would you describe your life in Germany?
I love living in Cologne. I have been so pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the city is and how much there is to do here as well as outside the city. I live in the city center and love all of the shops, cafes and I especially love the parks which circle the city. I have been very happy here.
What differences exist between Germany and Ireland? What has stood out most?
I noticed that the infrastructure is much better here in Germany, for instance I don’t need a car to get around and everything is so accessible and so easy – I would most definitely need a car where I come from in Ireland to get around. I was able to get a train to La Moselle region, 2 hours outside the city, for hiking and it was simple with public transport.
A big difference is the price of food and drinks both in the supermarket and pubs and restaurants, it is so much cheaper ! Socializing here is great and it is so affordable to maintain a great social life. I think in Ireland people tend to drink much more in a short time frame ha ha.
I did notice that German people here in Cologne, follow the rules! I learned quickly to never run a red light or dare walk in the cycle lane!! Also I did notice that German people are less likely to chat to you for 10 minutes at the supermarket checkout, and are less street friendly but once you get to know them I found German people to be super fun, interesting and smart people. What you see really is what you get. And I like that.
In other ways I have been so impressed with the focus on improving the climate, recycling, reducing waste and reducing meat consumption has been very evident here in Cologne and I have learnt so many things in that respect. I think the point is enforced here more than home, right now.
Outdoor amenities are also so great, I love the parks here and they are so close by where ever you are in the city. This isn’t always the case in Ireland you generally again need to drive to these parks, and the amenities available in them are usually less and more focused on children. That is improving though slowly.
What does the Cologne Celtics GAA club mean to you?
Cologne Celtics has been great. I turned 30 while I was here and I hadn’t played GAA with 2/3 years. It was lovely to get back into it at this stage and I enjoyed playing again so much because I am a massive fan of team sport for motivation and keeping up your fitness.
For me, the club was a lifesaver during the pandemic, I moved here in May 2020 so luckily training was allowed to go ahead for the summer and I immediately searched for a GAA group once I moved here, knowing that GAA is a home away from home and that’s exactly what happened.
Once lockdown began again coming in to winter I had established a support system through the Celts and I always had contact with people.
I especially loved the Cologne Celts Ladies group. It was so enjoyable to get to know other women living, working or studying here in Cologne, everyone with a different background and stories but all with a love for GAA. We are in daily contact and used to meet weekly (when we were allowed) to run, chat and just have fun, aside from our regular trainings. The girls were a great support to me and I spent Christmas with one of the girls, Laura, as both of us decided not to travel home and we had a great time and so Cologne Celtics was a great support around that time especially.
How would you describe the GAA scene in Germany? And in Europe?
I think I only got a snippet into GAA in Europe but I was so lucky to be involved with the tournament in Maastrict where I played my first Gaelic Football ladies tournament with Germany. I got to meet with people from different clubs around Germany and Europe, which was so much fun !
I really enjoyed the GAA here in Cologne. The training was tough and great for keeping up fitness, everybody takes the sessions seriously and wants to improve in every way. Howevor the emphasis on making the sessions fun, engaging and always inclusive, is super super fun! The beer afterwards on a Saturday was always a great incentive to train harder 😊
Which is your preferred sport – Hurling or Gaelic Football? Why?
I prefer Camogie. I played camogie for years in Ireland, from the age of 6 to 25 and so the reason I prefer it is probably based on experience. I also enjoy Gaelic but I am much more familiar with playing camogie. I love my skort 😉
Did you play GAA back in Ireland?
Yes , I did play for years. As I said, from age 6 to 25 I gave up for 2 or 3 years in between. Camogie was my main hobbie as a child and a teenager and I loved every bit of it. I found I couldn’t commit as much once I started working and so I felt under pressure at home to perform at a higher level, and so I decided to step back because of that reason. My club didn’t have enough people to start a second team and so I chose to look at alternative hobbies.
Can you describe what the GAA is like back home in Ireland?
I think GAA in Ireland is so passionate at all levels and I love nothing more than attending club and county games. Which is great. Often I noticed at club level at home it can be difficult to get enough numbers at training and also at your matches, due to the amount of clubs in smaller areas. This can cause frustration at time as the sport is taken seriously, which can lead to taking away from the fun aspect of the sport. I noticed for women’s sport in particular, like Gaelic and camogie, I found a lot of my friends I played with when I was under 18, didn’t continue to play after this age, especially in comparison to men of the same age. It can be difficult to retain these people. I gave up myself at 18 but decided to return at age 21, as I couldn’t find a replacement sport I loved as much, in terms of comradery and playing together as a team. Nothing beats it.
What are your hopes for the Cologne Celtics club going into the future?
I would hope Cologne Celtics will continue to grow as a club, and I hope they enjoy future success in tournaments in 2021 and onwards, that the experiences people already there will encourage and promote more players and retain these people.
Personally I would love to see more women joining the club to grow that side of the club.
Favourite Gaeilge seanfhocail?
Briseann an dúchas trí shúile an chait – breeding breaks out through the eyes of a cat
„The most stand out memory for me, was not being told that in saunas / swimming pools in Germany people do not wear any clothes“
How’s your German?
It is not very good ! Working with English speakers does not help. I learned a few words and can understand some things, but I didn’t progress too quickly I think as I never relied on having German day to day, which is a shame.
Any funny stories / observations about Germany you can share?
The most stand out memory for me, was not being told that in saunas / swimming pools in Germany, people do not wear any clothes!!! Coming from a quite conservative country I was absolutely shocked at first and couldn’t stop laughing about my innocence after it. I quickly got over my irrational fear!
I used to just love seeing a man dancing in the park every evening during the summer, quite literally like nobody was watching. He used to be so funny but I loved it as he was so free and loving life! Reminds me a lot of cologne.
As much as 2020 brought general life to a halt, there has been a boost for us at Cologne Celtics GAA during this pandemic. We are proud to declare that we signed the Charta and are now members and supporters of the Irish campaign 20×20.
In our interview series we take the time to get to know our players and members. Meet Gareth from Antrim, committee member and Cultural Officer of the club.
In our interview series we take the time to get to know our players and members. This time: Arun Dhananjay from India.