I found our trip to Croke Park so much fun! Being an avid sports fan, there’s nothing I love more than exploring sports stadiums and learning about the history behind each stadium. So, that being said, when I found out that we were going to Croke Park, I couldn’t be more excited. I was also very curious about Gaelic Football and Hurling. So Croke Park was the perfect place to rid my curiosity of everything Gaelic Football and Hurling. On our fieldtrip we learned about the history behind the stadium itself, as well as some Irish history and the GAA.
The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) is a sports organization that houses hurling and Gaelic Football. In the GAA, 32 countries are represented for Hurling and Gaelic Football. Players are amateur players, no player gets paid. Which I think is so amazing. It’s quite sickening hearing about certain sports stars salaries over in the US. Some of those players get paid over 100 million dollars for a certain number of years. To hear that all these players in the GAA don’t get paid and have to find time to train because of their work schedules is refreshing. Patrick Nally came up with the GAA and Michael Kusack implemented it. GAA isn’t only found in Ireland, it’s also found in London and the different cities in the US.
Croke Park isn’t only known for holding sporting events, it’s also has little bit Irish history behind it. On November 21st, 1920, Dublin was playing Tipperary in a game of hurling. This was during the time that the Republic of Ireland was in a war of independence against the British. While the game was in action, British forces invaded the stadium and opened fire. Ultimately fourteen people lost their lives as a result of the shooting in Croke Park that day. Included in the dead were Michael Hogan, a player on the Tipperary Team (whom the Hogan Stand is named after).
During our tour of Croke Park, there were some really cool things that I heard and saw that caught my attention. One of them was the chandelier in the player’s room. It’s crystal chandelier that was made by the Waterford Crystal Company. In the chandelier there are thirty-two Gaelic footballs to represent each country and there are seventy slithers to represent the amount of minutes in each game. One thing that our tour guide had said that caught my attention was that you could buy one ticket and on days where there are double headers or even three games a day, that ticket would allow you to see every game that day. This would never happen in the US. There was also one section of the seating called Hill 16. When the Irish was trying reestablish itself from the British, rubble was brought to Croke Park from O’Connell street and it built a hill for spectators to stand on and watch the games. Now, it’s proper seating but it’s referred to as Hill 16.
Croke Park isn’t only used for Gaelic football and hurling. It also hosted a boxing match in 1972 that Mohammed Ali was a part of. It’s also hosted the Special Olympics and some soccer and rugby games, as well as a number of concerts! Next year it’ll host an American football college game, University of Central Florida vs. Penn State!
During my visit to Croke Park I was in awe with the history behind the stadium, the uses of the stadium and the quirky little things that make it what it is today. Hopefully I’ll be back there in May in the front row watching the boy band One Direction do their thing!