One of the things that I love most about travelling, is to discover things that are a big part of a country’s culture, and that I’ve personally never heard about. So when I learned about two sports that are HUGE in Ireland, but not really anywhere else in the world, I was intrigued.
Let’s found out what these games are all about, and give it a go ourselves!
Clash Gaelic Games School in Ireland
We’re welcomed at the Clash Gaelic Games School in Portmarnock by the enthusiastic Gareth. He is the youngest of five O’Driscoll brothers, three of which run the school. He’s an Irish teacher by trade with a big passion for the Irish language and hurling.
Local hurling club Naomh Mearnóg
Introducing Hurling: The Fastest Field Sport in the World!
If, like me, you haven’t heard about hurling yet, let me enlighten you.
This fun Irish game looks a bit like a hockey/football/lacrosse mix-up. It’s played with a shorter stick with a broader oval blade than hockey and the ball (the sliotar) is the size of a baseball. It is the national game of Ireland and may date back to the 2nd millennium BC. There is also a similar game for women called camogie (camógaíocht).
The aim of the game is to hit the ball with the stick (the hurley) in the goal of the opponent, either over the crossbar (1 point) or under the crossbar into a net (1 goal / 3 points).
You can catch the sliotar in your hand and carry it for 4 or less steps, kick or slap it with your open hand, or struck it in the air/on the ground with the hurley. All of this happens at incredible speed. Needless to say, wearing a helmet is a feckin‘ good idea.
When there are helmets involved, you know it’s getting serious.
Apparently, they play hurling all around the world, but in Ireland it’s more a way of life than anywhere else. This soon becomes clear to us when Gareth tells us the history of the game and how he played it since he was little… while waving his arms around, jumping up and falling down and making us laugh so hard.
This guy is awesome! His dad was there as well and he just seemed very proud standing in the corner looking at his passionate son.
Now, I won’t go too much into the tech and rules of the game, as that’s what Wikipedia is for, but I can recommend you listening to Gareth’s story (click the player below) about how hurling came about.
You can understand why we had such a good time!
Time to try hurling ourselves… I loved it!
Gaelic Football: Forget What You Know About Football/Soccer!
After the hurling, we moved on to yet another incredible Irish sport: Gaelic Football.
At Clash they believe that to truly understand Gaelic games you can’t just watch them being played. Nope, they combine the practical sessions with historical facts and mythical stories which will make sure that you leave thinking that Gaelic Games are the greatest sports in the world! And we all did in the end :)
Gaelic football is a form of football, but then you play with 15 players on each side. You can score by getting the ball into the goal (3 points) or a set of two upright posts separated by a crossbar (1 point).
You can carry, bounce, kick, hand-pass and solo the ball (this last one you drop the ball and then toe-kick it into your hands), so definitely a lot different from other types of football. And I’m proud to say I’m equally bad at both of them, haha.
I enjoyed the Gaelic football, but definitely pick hurling as my favourite new sport that I learned this year!
Wondering if you should give hurling and Gaelic football a go yourself? Well, as the Clash website says it better than I could word it: “Leave the pub and museums for a couple of hours and get out into the fresh air to experience a real taste of Irish culture that you won’t find anywhere else.” Absolutely agree on that!
Clash Gaelic Games
Have a look yourself of what you can experience at Clash:
Listen to the Story behind Hurling:
Into football? Go on a unique 1.5–hour guided tour of Croke Park stadium, and discover the amazing history and secrets of Ireland’s national sports:
Here are all our articles about Dublin and the rest of Ireland:
- One Day In Dublin, Ireland? Complete Guide To A Perfect City Break!
- Free Art in Dublin, Ireland: Colorful Doors & Unique Street Art
- 54x Vintage Travel Posters Ireland
- Tested: 1 Day Dublin to Wicklow Mountains Tour in Ireland
- Best Day Trip from Dublin: Explore Beautiful Malahide, Portmarnock and Howth
- Exploring South West Ireland: Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle & Cork
Visiting Northern Ireland as well? Here are some of our articles:
- Northern Ireland Game Of Thrones Tour Ideas: 6 Unique Experience You Don’t Want To Miss
- Brunel’s in Newcastle, Northern Ireland: A True Local’s Meal
- 25 Photos That Make You Want To Visit Northern Ireland Today!
- Sleep In A Cloud… And Meet A Ghost At 17th Century Ballygally Castle In Northern Ireland
- Game Of Thrones Shooting Locations In Northern Ireland: A Complete Overview Per Episode, With Map!
- Game Of Thrones Tour Belfast & Beyond: Discover The Secret Doors!
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Planning to have a Gaelic games experience yourself? Bookmark this article for future reference on Pinterest:
Disclaimer: My trip to Dublin was part of the ‘Dublin: a Breath of Fresh Air’ Campaign (#LoveDublin), a collaboration between Tourism Ireland and iambassador. All photos and opinions are my own, as always.