As a class we visited Croke Park on one of our Irish life and cultures field trips. We took the train to Croke Park, which is one kilometer outside of Dublin’s city center, upon arrival to the park; we watched an incredible video on what the GAA was. The GAA stands for the Gaelic Athletic Association and is an Irish and international sporting and cultural organization. Its focus was on promoting Gaelic fames such as the traditional Irish sports of Hurling, Camogie (Female Hurling), Gaelic Football, handball and rounders. The athletes that play in each sport are armatures and often have other jobs due to the fact that they don’t get paid to play in the GAA.
Croke Park can hold up to 82,000 people and is the fourth largest stadium in Europe after Nou Camp in Barcelona, Wembley in London, and Bernabeu in Madrid.
Not only is the sporting arena known for sports, but it is also the place where great travesty occurred. During the Irish war of Independence, on November 21, 1920 the Royal Irish Constabulary opened fire on the players and fans during a Gaelic football game between Dublin and Tipperary. The police supported by the British army entered the ground, shooting indiscriminately into the crowd killing or fatally wounding 14 people. Amongst the 14 were 13 fans and 1 player. The player that was killed was the captain of Tipperary’s team. In Honor of Hogan, the park built and dedicated a stand that was named the Hogan stand.
It has also faced some controversy as it is part of the GAA, and was up until recently, said that the only sports that could be played there were Irish sports. However it did allow Football and Rugby to be played there in January of 2006. American football games have also been played at Croke Park as well.
I really enjoyed our visit to Croke Park… its definitely one of the nicest sporting arenas that I’ve been to in my life and I hope to see a real game there sometime in the future!