As my first co-curricular I went to Croke Park. I was excited for this, as I have always enjoyed sports. When we arrived we watched a short movie about what goes on at Croke Park. Then, we went into a locker room. Our guide talked us through what a player would be experiencing before a match, and we were to imagine we were them. We went into a room where they stretch and warm up. We all huddled up in a circle and the guide led us through some possible pre-game rituals that would occur. Next, we got to walk through the entrance to the field that the players would use, getting to see the pitch up close.
Our guide briefly discussed Bloody Sunday, the massacre that occurred during a Gaelic football game as revenge for the “Cairo Gang” assassination. I did some further research on this and discovered that the “Cairo Gang” was a “team of undercover British agents working and living in Dublin” (crokepark.ie). The night before the football match, Michael Collins sent soldiers to assassinate some of these men, leaving fourteen dead. British forces then attended the game, claiming they were there to search people for weapons. Shots were fired very shortly after the start of the game and fourteen people were killed. It is unclear what exactly happened, as the official statements released about the event are not consistent. The incident shook both Irish and British citizens, as the British forces seemed to have targeted innocent bystanders in retaliation.
What struck me as very unique and different from the United States, was that the athletes who play at Croke Park do not get paid, and yet the sports are still very popular in Ireland. It seems as though amateur sports would not get nearly as much of a following in the US. This is highlighted through soccer. Soccer is not very big in the US and one possible reason for that is due to the fact that there are very little commercial breaks, leaving little room to make money off of advertisements. It is a sad reality that American culture seems so focused around making a profit.
Gaelic football and hurling are very unique and entertaining sports, it’s a shame they are not played internationally. I enjoyed learning more about this aspect of Irish culture and the history behind the stadium.