It could be said that Ireland is sports crazy.. so why not join in the madness.
While there are a myriad of sports played around Ireland ranging from Golf to Horse riding, rowing and athletics, you cannot talk about Irish sport without first mentioning the big 4 – Gaelic Football, Hurling, Rugby and Soccer.
There are a lot of unique aspects to Irish life and culture that many non-natives are surprised to discover. Certain Irish traditions are well known all around the world; Saint Patrick’s Day thanks to the massive Irish diaspora that settled around the world, or Irish dancing thanks to the huge success of Riverdance, for example. There are plenty of people, however, who only realise that we have our own language when they hit Irish shores for the first time. The same is true of traditional Irish sports, which are unbelievably popular all over the country, but little known outside of it.
The two most popular Irish sports are hurling and gaelic football. Hurling is a very fast paced game played with wooden ‘hurleys’ (similar to hockey sticks but with much wider and flatter heads) and a hard ball known as a ‘sliotar’. It is considered to be the world’s fastest field sport, and it is probably one of the most dangerous too since players can catch the ball in their hands and hit it into the air with the hurley; like you would with a baseball bat or tennis racket. Imagine doing that in a field full of other people who are all trying to stop you so they can do the same thing – needless to say, it can get chaotic!
Gaelic football is much more sedate by comparison, and is very similar to Australian rules football – so much so that teams from Australia and Ireland often play exhibition ‘crossover’ matches together. In Gaelic football, the players are permitted to pick up and carry the ball for a short time before kicking it. Again, they can kick it high up into the air and across the field, unlike in soccer. The goal posts are a mixture of soccer and rugby goals; players can score either by hitting it into the net past the goalkeeper or through the two tall bars that extend into the air from each end (the same is true for scoring in hurling).
Irish sports have roots way back in prehistoric times, dating back 3,000 years in some cases – before any recorded history in Ireland began! The earliest written references to hurling date from the 7th and 8th century, and mention sporting injuries that should be compensated. However, the most famous early account of hurling appears in the legend of the Tain Bo Cuailgne. Although the earliest surviving copy dates from the 12th century it is widely thought that the story itself is much older, from around 500BC.
Begin your tour in the capital, Dublin, with a visit to the home of gaelic games, Croke Park, with a tour of the stadium and museum. Followed by a visit to Aviva Stadium, home to the Ireland and Leinster rugby team. If you wish to attend a game this can be organized for you if the dates allow it.
Following this head west to the city of the tribes, Galway. Home to Connacht Rugby and Galway Hurling and Gaelic Football. Attend a game or get a lesson in Hurling.
Along the Atlantic Coast there are plenty of opportunities to get your feet wet. From learning how to sail to surfing on the waves, there’s plenty of fun to be had.
For those less adventurous you can always partake in a good brisk hike up the Galway mountains on a good hiking tour.
The possibilities for sports travel in Ireland are limitless, with every taste catered for. Travel further south through Limerick and the home of Munster Rugby and on through County Kerry, the most successful Gaelic Football county, where the county team are followed fanatically. Kerry is a beautiful spot for hiking, with the Magillicuddy Reeks the highest mountain range in Ireland. Continue on to Ireland’s second city, Cork. With over 500,000 people living in Cork there are plenty of sports around to keep you busy. From kayaking to bike tours there is something for everyone.
It would be impossible to talk about sport in Ireland without mentioning two sports that attract thousands of visitors every year because of their world class reputations – Golf and Horse Racing. For a tiny island on the edge of Europe, Ireland sure knows a thing or two about golf. Everyone from champions Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tigers Woods, to actors Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Bill Murray all love playing golf on the island of Ireland, and it’s hard not to see why. With world-class courses in some of the most spectacular locations on the planet, Ireland’s credentials are sky-high when it comes to golf. Horse racing in Ireland is intricately linked with Irish culture and society. The racing of horses has a long history on the island, being mentioned in some of the earliest texts. Domestically, racing is one of Ireland’s most popular spectator sports, while on the international scene, Ireland is one of the strongest producers and trainers of Thoroughbred horses.
On your tour of Ireland, Get Away to Educate can organize a full itinerary which can include trips to see the best Ireland has to offer in Sporting experiences. Be it the passion and revelry of a big Rugby game or a leisurely game of Golf in a stunning setting, you won’t be disappointed!
Get Away to Educate was great in all aspects. Our gang of sports mad university students couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the experience. Get Away to Educate was instrumental in creating great—and surely what will be lifelong—memories for all of us.
Discover the Wild Atlantic Way where 2,500km of spectacular coastline with white sands and glittering waves awaits you. Head inland to experience some of the signature discovery points and amazing activities in this incredible region.
Feel the power of the Atlantic Ocean as it crashes into the base of towering sea cliffs, wander down vast beaches and watch flocks of birds dance in pastel skies as the sun sets on another magical day. Discover the wild side of Ireland in this active holiday, which travels down the rugged west coast and includes hiking, horse riding, surfing and boat trips.