From Hogwarts to rocket launches, our NUIG correspondent Aisling Bonner gives us her top society events that hit NUI Galway during 2014.
Societies are often forgotten about by many university students. In 2014 many societies in NUI Galway were determined to strut their stuff on the soc-world stage. The result? A wonderfully unique selection of events that were sure to command attention, even if it was simply something to make you go ‘hmmmm’.
 
PotterSoc’s Second Annual Potter Fest
Before you begin to doze off, this is not a celebration of well-crafted pottery. PotterSoc is Galway’s very own Harry Potter fan club. Last year’s Potter Fest took place from the 31st of January until the 2nd of February and is Ireland’s only Harry Potter Convention, would you believe? The weekend attracted Hogwarts hopefuls from across Ireland to engage in various spellbinding activities. The event garnered media attention from RTÉ and the Irish Independent. Activities included a sorting ceremony, divination, potion tasting, a Care of Magical Creatures class and a Horcrux hunt among many other events. The weekend highlight was a Quiddich match extravaganza won by the University’s very own Galway Grindylows. The Third Annual Potter Fest will take place the 13th – 15th of March 2015 – be there or be a Squib (look it up).
 
GigSoc’s Mass Marriage
In the race to register to vote in the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum, Student’s Unions across the country were bending over backwards to raise awareness of the deadline. Galway’s Student Union teamed up with the university’s LGBT society, GigSoc (Gay in Galway), to provide a taster of what marriage equality might be like. Wedding bells rang out across campus as couples walked down the aisle of a mass marriage ceremony in November. All members of the congregation were encouraged to join in holy matrimony with, well, whoever was available. The marriages were sealed by a “minister” and the happy couples were given a pretend marriage certificate before being ushered to sign the voter register to seal their fates. 
 
SláinteSoc’s Teddy Bear Hospital
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘never work with children and teddies’? No, me either. Galway’s branch of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, SláinteSoc, welcomed over 1000 primary school children and their poor sick teds to a medical examination. Teddies with a variety of worrying symptoms were brought to the Teddy Docs who made their diagnoses as their owners watched with bated breath. The aim of the annual tradition is to reduce the fear in younger children of visiting doctors and hospitals. Each teddy was given a remedy or prescribed medication where necessary, before going to enjoy some bouncy castle banter and a juggling show from Juggling Soc. There were no terminal cases, hence, there was a lot to celebrate. 
 
Astronomy Soc’s Rocket Building and Launch
Astronomy Soc went to infinity and beyond in 2014 and became the first university society to orbit the moon. Did I say the moon? Sorry, I meant Tuam. Rocket making kits were purchased by the NASA novices containing parts and instructions, the engine and decorative bits. The rockets were laid to rest for a night before their launch took place in a field outside Tuam the following day. Bigger rockets were launched by Rocketry Ireland (who knew that existed?) accompanied by the Galway rockets which were judged and awarded accordingly. Prizes were advertised to have been “out of this world”, how punny!

Photo: GIG Soc NUIG/ Facebook