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The Irish are well known for their welcoming nature and the ‘craic’ (fun) they always seem to be having, whether it’s Paddy’s day or not. When we ask people what first comes to their minds in regards to the Irish, it’s usually their drinking habits, their Whiskey and Guinness. And it’s true, for most their favourite past time is definitely ‘having the craic’ in a pub on the weekends or even throughout the week. Good or bad economy: many pub owners will always have a golden business. However, as I discovered in the past few years: Most Irish take their sports quite seriously, even though watching sports usually goes hand in hand with the craic. Gaelic football, Hurling and Camogie, Gaelic Handball and Rounders are all Irish sports covered by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ireland’s largest sports organisation. Besides this, there is Irish Street Bowling (yes, you’ve read that right), which has its own association.
Rugby is of course also a sport for which the Irish are known worldwide and soccer is watched a lot, but not played as much. Not really professionally any way. Most soccer players here still have a day job! Could you imagine Messi driving a taxi in between training and matches? In the coming weeks I would like to spend some time on each of the Irish national sports, but the first one I’d like to cover is also the most important one:Gaelic FootballWhen I moved to Ireland seven years ago, I quickly discovered that Gaelic football has a special place in the Irish hearts. A village can be as tiny as just one street, a church, a school, a shop-annex-post-office and at least one pub; chances are there is also a football pitch. If not, you will find one in the next hole in the ground and they share it. Kids as young as 4 can join their local club, but they make exceptions; in their opinion you couldn’t get them in young enough. In our family, my daughter joined when she was barely 5, my eldest son was 4 and my youngest only started this season when he was 3. 5 years old. When you have a peek at one of the trainings or match days, you can easily see that the girls are possibly more enthusiastic about their football than the boys. When a strong rain falls, you will see the boys hide in the duck-out. Not the girls. They might be tempted to leave the field when a hurricane hits!
Besides each town having their own Gaelic football club, every separate county also has one and this is where things really get serious.
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