Autumn can bring many different memories and traditions to mind, the changing of leaves seems to be universal. In addition to the colder weather, Fall also marks the start of the school season and the holidays. In my house, when Autumn comes around, that means football season is here. As the stadium lights come on and the players prepare for another season, so do the fans, but the rules of the game this Fall have changed, and so has the field.
In Ireland, the game is referred to as Gaelic football or GAA. There are only around 30 teams at the professional level who compete nationally and they all share one “home field” stadium to play their matches, Croke Park.
|The entrance to the museum at Croke Park.|
|Croke Park stadium.|
I recently had the fortune to visit the national stadium, Croke Park, here in Dublin, thanks to CEA. The stadium is hidden in neighborhood in the Drumcondra area of Dublin, while it may have been difficult to see behind the houses from, once up close, it is hard to miss. The stadium can seat over 82,000 fans at a time and hosts games for both Gaelic football and Hurling teams.
During the tour of the stadium, we got to go behind-the-scenes and see what the athletes get to experience when they are off the field. Each team has their own locker room, arranged alphabetically, there is no special treatment for any team. At the end of every match, both teams dine together in a private banquet hall that is for only the team members, but they are each allowed to bring in one guest.
| This chandelier hangs in the banquet hall the teams eat
dinner in after each match together. The chandelier is made
from Waterford Crystal.
|The locker rooms, with team jerseys from around the country.|
| This photo was taken at the GPO (General Post Office)
in Dublin, but it displays hurling gear from
the early twenty century.
There's also a museum where guests can try their hand at hitting with a hurling stick or kicking a Gaelic football. I took a few swings with the hurling stick and managed to hit the ball a time or two. Having the opportunity showed me to just how hard those athletes really have to train to prepare for each match, it gave me a greater appreciation for the players.
No matter where in the world I am, when I am standing in a sports arena, I feel that familiar rush of excitement. Sports are whole other type of culture and language in our society today and understanding them allows you to feel the passion and excitement for the teams that other fans feel.
Victoria K. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Dublin, Ireland. She is currently a sophomore studying Marketing and Accounting at the University of Southern Indiana.
Victoria Krug is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Dublin, Ireland, and is currently studying at University of Southern Indiana .