Seoul Gaels

The spectre of emigration once again haunts Ireland, this year the Central Statistics Office estimate that upwards of 500,000 people are set to emigrate.

While the old hot spots of the American east coast, Canada and London are once again filling up with the sound of Irish accents, you may find it surprising to hear that Seoul, South Korea also has a thriving Irish community.

 With a population of 10 million, Seoul is one of Asia’s largest metropolitan cities. While a city with a population that dwarfs that of the whole of Ireland may appear daunting, it is in fact its sheer size which makes it so appealing. 

The cultural switch is made easier when you realise that everything considered ‘western’ is readily available in Seoul, though it’s far more interesting to stick to the quintessentially Korean ways of living, such as eating on the floor of a local restaurant, slurping up noodle soup with chopsticks or crooning away old to 80s tunes with friends at a local Noorebong- one of the many small karaoke rooms dotted around the city.

For many people who have come to live and work in Seoul, particularly Irish, have settled in very well because they have found a home away from home. This sense of familiarity and comfort comes from Seoul Gaels GAA Club and all of its members.

Virtually every town and village around Ireland has a GAA club. It bridges divides, brings communities together and can form bonds which can last a lifetime. Togetherness is definitely something that can be felt amongst and experienced by club members in Seoul Gales a dtagann “Ó gach chearn den domhain”. GAA in Seoul promotes a sense of inclusiveness where everyone is welcome, no matter where you come from or whether you’ve played football before!

Seoul Gaels members not only form a strong bond with each other but with many other players from different clubs all around Asia during competitions like The Asian Games. There are now GAA clubs in Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and those are just some to name a few. Every year big and small competitions are organised bringing a large number of GAA followers together to experience what they love most.

When one usually conceives of the idea of emigration, it is thought of in negative terms, of leaving ones homeland and the unknown. However working and living in South Korea, and being part of the large network of friendly and helpful Irish and non-Irish members of the Seoul Gaels football club, is a rich and rewarding experience, where many fond memories can be created.

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