Hello everyone, I hope you are well and having a good day in these troubled and uncertain times. I come today to talk to you about a subject that is close to my heart: Gaelic sports (plus I love the name Gael). Because the Irish like to do things differently, and because at home, Gaelic football is more popular than football, we felt it was important to highlight these practices. On that, enjoy your reading !
1. Everything is controlled and organized by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)
Already, the first thing to know is that everything was “created” and organized by the GAA or in French, Association Athlétique Gaélique, which was born in 1884. The purpose of this organization was to revive the practice of traditional sports in decline since the end of the 19th century with the rise of so-called “modern” sports such as football or rugby.
The Irish having small (even large) separatist tendencies (Southern Ireland is an autonomous region), everything was good to move away from sports imported mainly from England such as football, and to differentiate themselves. Gaelic football is a centuries-old sport whose origins are quite vague, it is in fact a variant between rugby and football, we will explain that to you right after.
The Railway Cup, the Gaelic sports competitions, are organized between the different provinces of Ireland, that is to say, Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster.
2. Gaelic football, the most popular sport in Ireland
There are 5 main Gaelic sports, Gaelic Football, Hurling, Camogie, Gaelic Handball and finally Rounders. Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland (the GAA has done its job well). It’s a mixture of rugby and football, since it is possible to play with the feet and the hands, and it is played at 15 (like rugby). A match lasts 60 min, or 70 min for seniors and it is impossible for a match to end in a draw. In this case, either there are 20-minute overtime or the match is replayed (yes definitely). Unlike football, there is no offside rule, so you don’t have to act like you understand it. Finally, a great feature is that each player can only play for one team in his entire life: that of the county he is from, so no betrayal as we can see in football where you change clubs like shirts. .
3. Gaelic handball, a bit like squash
Gaelic handball does not bear its name very well since it does not really resemble the handball that we know, but much more like squash. It is basically the same thing as squash, with the big difference that there are no rackets, and that the players play with their hand (using gloves anyway messing around).
4. Hurling is like nothing else
Be careful not to confuse this word with “curling”, “pudding” or even “bling-bling”, words that do not have the same meaning at all, the last two not even being sports practices. Now that the basics have been laid, I can calmly explain what hurling is. On Wikipedia you can read that hurling is a sport of “lacrosse soule”, which should not tell you much, but which could have tilted you if you had read my top on the origin of sports. In short, hurling is played at 15, with a ball, resembling a tennis ball. Players hit the ball with their sticks at about face height, and there is no offside rule either, making the game very fast and with little stoppage time. Points are counted the same As in Gaelic football, if the ball passes between the two posts, the team scores 1 point, on the other hand, if it passes below the posts, in the goal, the team scores three points. The matches also last 60 minutes and a draw is impossible (the match is replayed).
We’ll let you judge for yourself, but hurling is a particularly difficult sport that requires players a lot of skill, speed and precision. I’m not sure we’re starting to play that in our playgrounds.
5. Camogie, the female version of hurling
Generally when we have the feminine version of a sport we say “women’s rugby” for example, or downright nothing, because ultimately whether it is practiced by men or women, the sport remains the same. Well that is not the case for hurling which, when practiced by women, becomes camogie.
The rules are therefore the same as in hurling, with the exception of the duration of the matches which is slightly shorter for women (60 min for senior women against 70 min for senior men). Camogie originated in the early 20th century, created by women who used to play hurling and wanted to have a female version of the sport.
6. Rounders, a bit like baseball
We end this list of Gaelic sports that made you learn a lot of great things about Irish heritage, with rounders, a sport that could look like the baseball we know. You should know that rounders is a little more international than other Gaelic sports since it is also practiced in England and Indonesia. The origin even seems to be British, nevertheless the sport is practiced more in Ireland, and it is part of the sports managed by the GAA. Suddenly, to avoid explanations, once again very long, tell yourself that the rounders, is more or less, substantially the same thing as baseball.
7. These Gaelic sports are still widely practiced in Ireland, sometimes more popular than modern sports
Obviously, rugby and football have a very important place in the hearts of the Irish. Nevertheless Gaelic sports are still very popular and practiced in Ireland. In France (and in many other countries), so-called traditional sports in France, such as petanque or Basque pelota are certainly very popular, but they are not more popular than football, rugby or handball for example. This is not the case in Ireland, where the GAA has done a lot of work to preserve traditional sports by organizing annual competitions, so much so that in Ireland, the most popular and followed sport is football. Gaelic.
8. Bloody Sunday took place during a Gaelic football match
Another highlight, Bloody Sunday took place on a Gaelic football field, and it is frankly symbolic! Bloody Sunday is one of the most important events of the Angolan-Irish war. In 1972, British Army soldiers opened fire on Irish fans and players gathered at a Gaelic football match. This action was actually a response to a series of assassinations of British crown officials. 14 people were killed and 65 injured during this attack, which obviously marked the spirits.
9. All Gaelic sports are amateur (and intended to remain so)
Finally, one of the main characteristics of Gaelic sports is that they are amateur sports and will not become professional sports. The amateur practice of these sports is monitored by the GAA, which wants Gaelic sports to remain a traditional practice rather than a real “job”.