Croke Park PhotosCroke Park is the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, which runs the country’s two most popular sports – Gaelic football and hurling. The stadium, which has a capacity of 82,300, is the fourth largest in Europe and hosts the semi-finals and finals of the All-Ireland championships in both sports. The GAA museum is on-site and provides visitors with a look into the history of one of the world’s most prominent amateur sports organizations.

Highlights

  • Match Day – For all of the deep history and tradition of Croke Park, nothing can match the experience of attending an All-Ireland Final, especially in hurling. The emotion, excitement, and overriding spirit of community even among opposing fans provide the perfect backdrop for seeing the best in the world play the fastest game on grass.

Hurling Croke Park

  • Croke Park Tour – The guides do a fantastic job of providing visitors with a wealth of information about the park, the sports played there, and the history. They do so in a way that engages their listeners and avoids the feeling of information overload that is often associated with similar informative presentations.
  • A Sunday in September – Stadium tours start with a dramatic video that does a superb job of conveying the excitement of Gaelic sports in general and the All-Ireland Finals in particular. The video gets visitors into the spirit of the stadium before they take the walk around the grounds.
  • View of Dublin from the roof – The area surrounding Croke Park consists of buildings far shorter than the stadium itself. Those who take the rooftop tour are treated to a unique view of the city.
  • Behind the scenes – Most tours of stadiums include just the public areas, but as one might expect of an all amateur organization, visitors get to see almost everything the players do. Stadium tours include the locker rooms, players lounge, and VIP section. This makes it easier to imagine what it’s like for the players preparing for and experiencing the biggest days of their lives.

Croke Park rooms

  • Walking out onto the pitch – In how many stadiums do the tours include the opportunity to take the same walk the players do from the locker rooms out onto the pitch? Add to that the fact that they pump in the sounds of the previous year’s hurling final and this tour is about as close as you can get to playing in championship without actually doing so.

Prices

Stadium Tour (includes museum admission)

Adult €12.50
Child (under 12) €8.50
Student €9.50
Senior €9.50
Family (2 adults + 2 Children) €34.00
Family (2 adults + 3 Children) €38.00
Children under 5 years Free

Museum only

Adult €6.00
Child (under 12) €4.00
Student €5.00
Senior €5.00
Family (2 adults + 2 children) €16.00
Children under 5 years Free

Museum usually opens when the gates do and only match ticket holders are allowed access.

Discounts are available for GAA Club Juvenile Groups, Senior Citizens on Monday’s, and those taking the Etihad Skyline Tour.

Children under 18 are only allowed into the museum when accompanied by an adult. Admission to the museum is free on match days, but only for ticket holders.

Tips

  • Get to a match – If you can’t get there on match day, it’s still worth the visit. That said, if you don’t get to a match, your visit will have you dying to come back for one.
  • Ask the tough questions – The tour guides at Croke Park are remarkably well informed and should be able to answer just about any question you pose to them related to the park, its history, and the GAA.
  • Take the stadium tour – It may be tempting to skip the stadium tour and just take in the museum, but you’d be missing out. Granted, it’s not the same as getting to a match, but it’s remarkably close to being in one with the best-in-the-world access you’ll get to the facilities.
  • Find out about the temporary exhibits  If you’re just in Dublin for a couple of days, you won’t have much flexibility with this. If you’re there for a while, though, it’s worth it to find out the dates of planned exhibits to see if there’s one that you’d like to see while you’re at the Park.

Transport

Croke Park is situated in a residential area.  Parking is extremely limited, so it is best to take public transportation.

  • Bus – Several bus routes include stops within a kilometer of the Park.  They include 11/A/B, 16/A, 20B, 27, 27/B/C, 29A, 31/A/B, 32/A/B, 33, 41/A/B/C, 42/A/B 43, 46/A, 120, 121, and 122.
  • DART – Drumcondra Station provides easy access for those coming in on the DART.  The station is just a block away.
  • Luas – Those traveling on the Luas can get off just a few blocks from the stadium at either Busaras or Connolly Station.
  • Car Parking – Limited parking is available at the Clonliffe College car park, which is accessible by the entrance on Drumcondra Road Lower, and in City Centre Car Parks at Park Rite, Q-Park, and Mater Hospital.

History

  • Frank Dineen, a journalist, first purchased the ground in 1908 with £3,250, most of which he had to borrow.  The GAA bought him out entirely five years later for £3,500.
  • Much of the stadium was destroyed during the Easter Rising, but the remnants were used to create a grassy hill to improve the views for spectators.
  • A second stand was constructed in 1927 and named for GAA founder Michael Cusack.
  • The stadium was expanded again with the Nally Stand in 1952 and again in 1959 with the “New Hogan Stand”.
  • After deciding to expand the stadium during the 1980’s, a four phase process was agreed upon. The most important aspect of the project was to get the fans to be as close to the pitch as possible.

Interesting Facts

  • The largest crowed in the history of Croke Park was 90,556. They watched Down beat Offally 3-6 to 2-8 in the football final.
  • The first ever senior final played at Croke Park was the 1914 Hurling final played on October 18, 1914. Clare beat Laois 5-1 to 1-0.
  • On November 21, 1920, Croke Park was the scene of the first Bloody Sunday. Members of the Royal Irish Constabluary opened fire on the crowd in attendance at a football match between Dublin and Tipperary. Tipperary’s capital, Michael Hogan, for whom the Hogan Stand is named, was among thirteen people who were killed that day.
  • Due to the British occupation of Ireland, the GAA prohibited its members from playing soccer, rugby, or cricket up until 1971.
  • Up until 2007, the GAA prohibited the playing of British games on its premises. Those rules were changed to allow the national soccer and rugby teams to play on the pitch during renovations of Lansdowne Road, the site where such matches are usually played.
  • Croke Park has been the site of American football games, among which have been two games between the University of Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy.
  • Croke Park has hosted several concerts by top singers. Performers have included Tina Turner, Elton John, Celine Dion, and, of course, U2.
  • The venue hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2003 Special Olympics.

Croke Park

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