Summer is in the air and Dublin’s tourists are perhaps more likely to risk sightseeing outdoors. Croke Park, the home of Ireland’s most unique sporting organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), offers worthwhile prospects for both the sports fan and non-sports fan alike.
Spending a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in this 82,300-seater stadium offers the tourist a chance to watch either hurling, one of the world’s fastest and most skilful outdoor games, or gaelic football, more popular and physical. Majorly refurbished in the 1990s, the stadium on the edge of the city and hosts a top level game virtually every weekend between now and the end of September. For atmosphere, drama and a unique taste of Irish culture and these most professional of amateur sports, an afternoon in the fourth largest stadium in Europe is worthwhile. Tickets can be purchased on match days for all but the most premium of games (generally just late August and September) so a late decision on going is possible. http://www.crokepark.ie outlines how and where to buy tickets.
A recent addition to this 101-year old GAA stadium is its rooftop tour of Dublin’s skyline. Encompassing five viewing stops along the 0.6 km roof, the two hour tour starts in one of the players’ dressing rooms and takes you forty-four metres above ground level, providing a lively and informative commentary on Dublin’s tallest and most interesting buildings and landmarks as well as the stadium’s place in Ireland’s history and evolution. Dublin is not a high-rise or large city, but as an old capital with character and rich history, the tour highlights points and pockets one mightn’t notice or know otherwise. The tour is lively, interactive and one doesn’t have to be an acrophiliac to survive. Ringing ahead about ticket availability is advised as the tour is popular, but it runs on match days. For those without English, audio guides are available in French, German, Spanish and Italian, not to mention Irish.
Skyline tour tickets also include access to Croke Park’s GAA museum. With its archives and artefacts, trophy display and match footage, the museum gives tourists a chance to experience this cauldron of Irish history, heritage and culture without exposure to a Dublin summer day of wind and rain.