Croke Park

26 Nov

A few weeks ago, as an Irish Life and Cultures excursion we visited Croke Park.  I had no real knowledge of Irish sports before arriving at the park.  Initially I had actually thought we were going to a real park rather than a sports complex.  We were able to tour all over the stadium and the GAA Museum.  It was a very interesting experience.  I learned not only a lot about Irish sports, but also about the history of Croke Park, and its involvement in the fight for Ireland’s independence.

Croke Park became the Gaelic Athletic Associations Headquarters in 1913.  On November 21st, 1920, during a Dublin vs. Tipperary football game, where the proceeds of the match would be donated to the Irish Republican Prisoner Fund, a massacre known as Bloody Sunday occurred.  The night before the match, Michael Collins organized an assassination of undercover British agents in Dublin.  Fourteen British undercover agents were killed.  Soon after the match started on November 21st, British forces invaded.  British forces began shooting and killed fourteen innocent people, among them were Tipperary player Michael Hogan.  Although it was a very sad day in Irish history, it was also an instrumental one.  It overall helped to end of Irish war of independence.

Today after much renovation, Croke Park is one of the biggest stadiums in Europe.  It not only holds GAA sports, but it has held American football games as well as concerts.  One part of the tour I found particularly interesting was when our tour guide told us about the ‘hill.’  In 1917, after the destruction of the Easter Rising on O’Connell Street, the rubble from monument was brought to Croke Park to create a hill where people could see the matches better.  Since then, a terrace has been erected, where people can stand and watch the game.  Croke Park started off with just seating on two sides, but it has evolved to having three sides of seating with a side for standing.  Overall, Croke Park was beautiful, and an interesting experience.  I’m glad I was able to go.     

Work Cited:

http://www.crokepark.ie/gaa-museum/gaa-archive/gaa-museum-irish-times-articles/bloody-sunday,-1920

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