Thursday, 11 December 2014

Ireland 2014: Croke Park

We originally planned to return to Dublin on the Monday but I did such a great job of talking up Croke Park that Katie decided she had to see it and who am I to deny someone the joy of experiencing the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association?

Hello Gorgeous!
It started to rain just as we arrived. A kindly guard took pity on us and escorted us under his oversized umbrella to the entrance. Thank goodness we were going to be mostly indoors for the next few hours.

The museum at Croke Park is very well done, going through the known history of the sports of hurling - camogie for the ladies - and Gaelic football before progressing into the history of the GAA itself. If you ever find yourself in Dublin and you're a sports and/or history fan, I highly recommend making some time for a visit to Croke Park.

The original Sam Maguire Cup (Gaelic Football)

The original Liam McCarthy Cup (hurling)
We finished up the museum just in time for the tour. Unfortunately, they were breaking down the One Direction concert set up from the night before so we had a modified tour. There was no walking up the passage to the pitch to the sounds of a cheering crowd. Having done that before, I was sad for the other tour takers. I get chills just thinking about it. Still, I did get to see the most beautiful jersey ever created hanging in the locker room so it wasn't a total loss.

Hopp Monaghan!

I noticed I didn't take nearly as many photos this time round. This was in part because I've done the tour before but mostly because the stupid One Direction concert breakdown spoiled pretty much every view of the pitch. Not going to lie, I'm a tad bitter about that.

Look at this beauty!
Croker! Croker! Croker!
We entered the press area on the top floor and found a tribute wall to Michael O'Hehir (English name).

Mr. O'Hehir was the voice of the Gaelic games. He announced 99 All Ireland finals (to say nothing of the non-All Ireland finals and other sporting events he announced). About 2 weeks before his 100th commentary, he suffered a stroke which seriously affected his speech and left him unable to complete his 100th broadcast. He passed away 11 years later in 1996. The wall was covered in some of his more popular phrases.

I am determined to work 'schemozzle' into one of my work documents.
We made our way out to the broadcasting area. The pictures don't really do it justice but it is not a place you want to be if you're scared of heights. It's high and the incline is very steep.

It always makes me happy to be here even if I'm not here to watch a game.
After we wrapped up the tour, we headed off for a (very) late lunch and a bit of shopping before calling it a night. The only downside with this shopping trip was that I had almost no one left to shop for while Katie had about a dozen people still on her list. I don't like shopping at the best of times... I got a little bored...

Thanks to the Irish diaspora, GAA sports are played all over the world these days. If you're interested in catching a match live to see what all the fuss is about (and you don't have Setanta Sports/RTE International), check out the GAA International page (here) to see what's available in your area. (Or google your town + GAA.)

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