By Hannah Newman
In 2017, the Wild Atlantic Way, a trail that spans the west coast of Ireland, was named the coolest place to visit by National Geographic.
Thanks to two professors from the Norm Brodsky College of Business, Marge O’Reilly-Allen and Larry Newman, who passed away in 2022, Rider students were granted the opportunity to study there beginning in 2018.
In 2023, the trip was led by O’Reilly-Allen and Cynthia Newman, Larry’s wife.
“We’ve been running short-term study tours to Ireland for a number of years.We have the connections on the ground and we thought this would be a great opportunity,” said O’Reilly-Allen.
The three-week experience in Ireland allows students to study business in sports where they had the opportunity to learn the different angles of sports management in just under a month’s time.
“Rider offers whole semester study abroad opportunities and short eight-to-10-day study tours. But the faculty wanted to add something to the engaged learning portfolio by offering a three week experience,” said O’Reilly-Allen. “I can’t do a full semester abroad, but this really simulates that experience.”
While living in a large manor house, 13 Rider students had the chance to meet executives and entrepreneurs while also absorbing the knowledge of sports marketing, history and how to develop the funding for the business of sports.
“Many of these experiences provide transferable strategies and apply to American businesses, while some of them are very unique to the European Union and Ireland,” said O’Reilly-Allen. “Students had a real blend and exposure to both.”
In addition to the knowledge offered by the experience, students also got to participate in hands-on activities including surfing, kayaking, golf, horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, hiking and cycling.
“My experience surfing on the coast of Bundoran stands out to me as one that I will never forget,” said sophomore sports management major Sam Kirkpatrick. “I had never been surfing before, but I picked it up quickly thanks to our helpful instructors. Trying something new and having it go so well really set the tone at the beginning of our trip.”
Nine out of the 13 students were members of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, which contributed to the comfortable atmosphere for students on the trip.
“As someone who has an Irish heritage, I definitely love being able to actually go visit and learn about the culture in Ireland, but also being with the students on the trip,” said junior finance major Lauren Turnbull. “We all became very good friends and brothers and enjoyed being together in building those connections.”
Turnbull also mentioned how supportive both O’Reilly-Allen and Newman were on the trip and especially O’Reilly-Allen’s son, Ryan Allen, who founded Irish Gap Year, a program located in south west Donegal, Ireland, who played a critical part in the facilitation of the program.
The trip not only attracted sports management majors, but a variety of different business related disciplines that enhanced the learning experience of students in the many different angles of business studies, along with contributing to the growth of students’ life experience.
Rider alumnus Jesus Rodriguez ’23 said, “I found it valuable to reinforce the idea that while you cannot control the events and things around you, it is important to be able to control what you can, which would be your own actions and thoughts particularly in response to the things around you.”