Croke Park Stadium

Croke Park is the fourth largest sports stadium in Europe. It is owned by the Gaelic Athletic Association, formed on 1 November 1884 at a clandestine meeting at Hayes’s Commercial Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary, by to Michael Cusack (1847-1906), a teacher of the Irish language, to demand the restoration of native Irish sports, notably hurling and Irish football, prohibited by the British administration. Only five people attended, but the Rt Rev Thomas Croke (1824-1902), Archbishop of Cashel from 1875, read reports of the meeting in press, and gave support to the association of which he is regarded as the founder. The stadium named after the archbishop originated as an athletics ground, the City & Suburban Racecourse or the Jones Road Sportsground, and was used by the GAA from its foundation. All-Ireland finals in hurling and Irish football were played there from 1895. In 1908 one of its members, a journalist, Frank Diveen, borrowed money to purchase it, and sold it to the Association five years later. The GAA was a strongly nationalist organisation, and a battalion of its members fought at the General Post Office in Dublin during the Easter Rising of 1916. Rubble from the post office was taken to Croke Park to form the terrace known as Hill 16. On 21 November 1920, Auxiliaries employed by the British government to suppress the movement for self-government in Ireland, machine-gunned and killed 12 spectators at a football game between Dublin and Tipperary football, as well as Mick Hogan, captain of Tipperary, after whom a new stand was named in 1924. A cantilevered two-deck stand named after Michael Cusack followed in 1926. Two new stands were completed in the 1950s, but the whole stadium was rebuilt between 1997 and 2005. Hill 16, which was transformed from a grassy mound founded on rubble to concrete terracing in 1926, remains and, for historical reasons, is likely to continue as terracing for standing spectators. The largest recorded attendance at Croke Park was 90,556 for the All-Ireland football final between Offaly and Down football in 1961. The introduction of more seating has reduced the capacity to 82,300. The GAA fiercely defended what it perceived as Irish cultural integrity. Its history is portrayed in a museum at the stadium. Until 1971 members were forbidden to participate in ‘foreign’ sports, and until 2005 the Association’s rule 42 prohibited the playing of ‘foreign’ games at Croke Park, but the rule was rescinded in time for the stadium to stage Six Nations rugby union matches and qualifying ties for the Euro2008 football competition during the renovation of the Lansdowne Road ground in 2007. Croke Park is a huge U-shaped arena that towers above the working-class terraces of north Dublin. It is one of the most inspirational sports venues in Europe, and one that has a significant place in the cultural and political history of Ireland.

Croke Park Stadium
Pairc an Chrocaigh
+353 (0) 1 - 8192300