Croke Park

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Croke Park in Dublin is so much more than an impressive sports stadium. “Croker”, as it is locallyknown, is in many ways is a bastion of Irish identity that protects the spiritof Gaelic games from forces seeking to dislodge it. If this all sounds a bit dramaticyou should take the fantastic Croke Park Experiencetour to get a very real sense of just how important and deeply ingrained theGAA and Gaelic games are to Ireland’s sense of itself.

A World-Famous Stadium

Croke Park certainlyis impressive, however. It’s Ireland’s largest stadium, and with the capacityto seat 82,000 sporting fans, it is the fourth largest in Europe. Duringmatches the noise and chants from the crowd can be heard all over the city ofDublin.

Named in honour of Archbishop Thomas Croke, thesite of the present-day stadium has been used to host Gaelic games since 1884.Today the stadium not only hosts the most important matches it is also the headquartersof the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Getting to Croke Park

A visit here is a must for any sporting enthusiastand anyone with a more general interest in Irish culture. Even the most casualobserver cannot help but feel impressed by the majesty of the stadium, whichcan be found in Jones’ Road, Dublin 3. It is well served by public transportoptions with bus, rail, DART and LUAS transport all dropping you off within a15-minute walk to the stadium.

More Than Sport

The hallowed turf has seen more than just sportingaction. As a key location in the events of the Irish War of Independence, CrokePark has infamously gone down in history as the scene of amassacre by the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) on Bloody Sunday. The shoutsringing out from the stadium today are in response to music concerts that areregularly given here by major international acts such as U2, Elton John, OneDirection and Take That. Recently even Pope Benedict XVI has given an addressover video link to a full capacity crowd.

Birds Eye Views of Dublin

The stadium regularly hosts hurling, football andrugby matches but if you cannot get a ticket you can still savour the splendourof the stadium on the Croke Park Experience tourand in the museum. The twice-daily tours are always open to visitors, except onmatch days, and include a guided tour around the stadium roof known as Skyline.Here you’ll get a very real sense of the size, scale and grandeur of thestadium as well as the chance for some truly spectacular views of Dublin fromspecially created viewing platforms. The final platform is the showstopper asit extends right out till the pitch is below your suspended feet.

Take the tour, feel the excitement but don’t loseyour nerve up there in the gods!