Croke Park

6 Nov

Croke Park is home to the Gaelic Athletic Association, or the GAA. The Park is the fourth largest stadium in Europe and has the capacity to hold 82,300 people (Wikipedia). Located in the heart of Dublin, Croke Park is used for various Gaelic games including Gaelic football, hurling and camogie.

Formerly, the land of Croke Park was privately owned before the stadium was purchased in 1913 by the GAA (Croke Park History). In 1913 there were only two stands called the Long Stand and The Stand. Soon after a terrace area now called Dineen-Hill was built followed by Hogan Stand in honor of Michael Hogan who was a victim of shots fired during Bloody Sunday (Croke Park History). Over the next few decades more stands were continuously built in Croke Park, adding thousands of seats for the growing number of spectators. Finally, in 1993 Croke Park was redeveloped in four different phases so the All-Ireland Finals would not be interrupted. The renovation was eventually finished in 2005 and Croke Park is now a three-tier stadium (Croke Park History).

Croke Park sits on 16 acres of land. On match day there are 145 media representatives covering the game. These include print journalists, radio commentators, and TV broadcasters (About Croke Park). Croke Park encompasses Irish tradition and has previously encountered controversy about non-Gaelic games being played in the stadium (Wikipedia). Since it was founded by nationalist organizations, nationalist groups felt that it should only promote indigenous Irish games. Up until 1971, the GAA had rules against individuals associated with football, rugby, or cricket since these games were influenced by the UK. However, in the recent decades, the GAA has relaxed their rules about non-Gaelic sporting events occurring in the Park (Wikipedia).

I enjoyed touring the stadium and learning about the variety of Gaelic games. It was interesting to distinguish the differences between stadiums in Dublin from the United States. The most noticeable distinction was how Croke Park promotes equality and unity between the two opposing teams. This is often not the case in American sports where the main focus is on money and winning. I really enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between Irish and American sports.

Even though the Gaelic Football season has ended for this year, I hope I have the chance to do the Skyline Tour at the Park.

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