Travel is a popular trend in today’s world, and every tourist has a different idea of what it is. Some enjoy sipping cocktails on a white sandy beach, others prefer trekking through jungles and climbing to the highest peaks of the world. However, many tourists want to experience new and exciting ways of life. Unless you’re staying with a local family or you’re living in an area for an extensive period of time, it’s very hard to achieve this goal.
Visitors coming to Ireland are told to visit Irish bars and drink Guinness. In reality, most bars that look like traditional pubs are packed with tourists. Most locals do not drink there and more often than not, will be drinking something other than Guinness. If you want to interact with the locals and experience the true Irish culture, you must attend a GAA match. Ireland’s most adored sport.
What is GAA?
GAA is short for Gaelic Athletic Association. It’s an amateur and cultural organization that mainly focuses on Hurling and Gaelic Football. Traditional hurling countries are mainly found in Munster, the South of Ireland, with the likes of Cork, Tipperary, and Limerick. Traditional Gaelic football counties are found further north on the island, with the likes of Dublin, Tyrone, and Donegal.
Every match brings a carnival atmosphere, inside and outside the stadium. Thousands of supporters flood into town and street performers belt out traditional Irish music bringing the streets alive. Drinkers and none drinkers pack out the pubs, quenching their thirst with a pint of water or beer. Alcoholic drinks differ from county to county. For example, Guinness is brewed in Dublin so it’s very popular there. As for Murphy’s in Cork and Galway hooker in Galway.
Once you shared a laugh or two and joined in with a few singalongs, time will draw ever closer to the beginning of the game. Anyone who attends football matches regularly will instantly pick up on the fact that there is no segregation between supporters. Kerry supporters mix with arc rivals Dublin and Kilkenny fans walk side by side with historical enemies, Cork. A sea of varied colours floods the paths and gateways to the stadium.
A large sum of supports brings their county flags into the ground, which all adds to the vigorous atmosphere. Although the more vocal fans tend to position themselves behind each one of the goals, the main stands are mixed with both sets of supporters. Every score is loudly celebrated and each wins or loss ends with joy or heartache.
Best place to visit for a match?
This depends on whether you prefer hurling or football. If you want to experience a football game, the best places to visit are Killarney (Kerry), Dublin, Galway, or Castlebar (Mayo). If you prefer hurling, you’re better of sticking to the southern region of Ireland. Cork and Limerick are great clubs, cities and both have stadiums that can hold over 40,000 fans. Thurles in Tipperary is also a great choice. The town is much smaller than Cork and Limerick, which can have a more intense atmosphere.
For more information on GAA fixtures and dates, click on the link down below.