To be honest, I’m not too much of a sport person, so I didn’t know what to expect from the visit at the Croke park. But actually, there is much more than sports to this massive stadium.
Trust me, this place is really worth a visit.
From an architectural point of view, it is the third largest stadium in Europe and the largest in Ireland – just imagine, it can hold up to 82,300 people. Entering the field just gives you that “wow feeling” you get in front of natural wonders or works of art – you feel so little and at the same time amazed by what the human genius has achieved.
The most interesting part, however, is the cultural importance Croke park has to Irish identity.
Croke park is in fact principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and the main sport played in here are Hurling and Gaelic football. To be frank, I had never heard about these sports before, however it is one of the great amateur sporting associations in the world (which means it is not polluted by money and business like other professional sports) and it is part of the Irish consciousness, related to Irish independence.
This means that learning about Hurling and Gaelic football is fundamental to understand Irish identity.
The guided tour is fairly interesting even if sports bore you to death (like me): an incredibly friendly guide explained us the basic rules of the sports and the meaning they have to Irish people, we visited the stadium and the changing rooms, and at the end we were also given the chance to try out the sports (I admit I was not able to hit the ball with the hurl…).
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers here: go and see it for yourself.
And if you are an Alpha student, you will also get a special discount for the tour: €7 instead of €14.