In my 6 months of living in Ireland, I’ve learned that sun is rare, craic and crack have the same pronunciation but different meanings, and that GAA is at the heart of Irish culture. GAA stands for the Gaelic Athletic Association and is Ireland’s largest sporting organization. It is celebrated as one of the great amateur sporting associations in the world. GAA promotes Gaelic games such as Hurling, Football, Handball and works with sister organizations to promote Ladies Football and Camogie. GAA has over 2,000 clubs in all of Ireland’s 32 counties.
Today, I got an opportunity to watch my school IT Carlow’s hurling match for the first time. People always told me that one has to be very skilled to play this game and I am convinced. The players made the game look effortless. I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather and surely, I was cringing just sitting and watching the match. These players, in mid-thigh high shorts and short sleeved jerseys, were hitting this baseball-sized ball up and down the field as if it was warm, sunny day. The objective of the game is to hit the ball in either a goalie net or up in the goal post of the opponent’s side. Kinda similar to soccer but more like lacrosse with a dash of hockey and baseball combined. The beatings they took straight to the bone in the blistering cold were insane. It was a cool experience to sit within the crowd and hear the passion for the team they were cheering for.