sport is big in Ireland. this weekend is the All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary and it’s been all over the radio and papers. Kilkenny has won the last three years but both teams are pretty intense.

in addition to hurling, there’s Gaelic football. teams are organized by counties–you can only play for your county and no trading from one to another, as with any of the other incarnations of football. the league also doesn’t distinguish between the counties north or south of the border, as the league benefits everyone of Gaelic extraction. it isn’t a professionalized sport the way football is in the States or elsewhere in Europe, and the money that the GAA comes by is used to promote Irish language and culture, to support local football teams for kids and the like. matches are played in Croke Park, an 80,000 seat stadium (also scene to a pretty terrible attack by the Black and Tans in November 1920 during the war for independence), which is the 4th largest venue in Europe.

i went from Belfast to Cork by way of Dublin on a Sunday afternoon. coming through town it seemed everyone was wearing the colors of their team, heading to watch the match at Croke Park. people hang banners in windows, on cars, wherever, and you can tell that you’ve left one county for another when the banners change.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.