Today I had the opportunity to be the ambassador for my class at the historic Croke Park. A little background first, Croke Park is the largest sporting and cultural park in Ireland, 3rd largest in Europe. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has hosted and catered to Irish sport & history as well as to major cultural and international events. We had an amazing tour guide, Ian, who himself played for Dublin! Something that was extremely interesting I learned on the tour was that all the athletes (and even coaches) are amateurs. They don’t get paid! It was incredible to see how the Irish are so tied to the culture and love expressing it at this park. Something that shocked me on the tour was learning about an event in history called Bloody Sunday, when a massacre occurred at Croke Park during the Irish War of Independence. My favorite part was the end when I was able to try playing Hurling and Gaelic Football. I can now proudly say I played Curling at Croke Park Stadium (haha).
The Irish are incredibly tied to their Irish National Identity. They are passionate about their culture, almost to the point would they would give their life for it. A perfect example is the Croke Park tour we had today. It was started by Thomas Croke himself to help the youth tie back to their traditional roots instead of being accustomed to British rule. Like I mentioned earlier, Croke Park played by amateur athletes who play not only for the love of the sport but for the love of the culture. Just like how the Irish are very passionate about their identity and show it in various ways like sports and history, I also express my identity in different ways. For example, I am a huge animal lover (I’m in love with my pug Zelda). I express this identity by volunteering at Humane Animal Rescue in the North Side. Another part of my identity is being a Pitt student. I love expressing this intensity of being a Pitt student by showing school spirit and my hatred towards Penn State (Joe Knew). Whenever I think about how passionate I am about being an animal-lover and Pitt student, it’s easy to relate to the Irish about being proud, passionate, and appreciative of their own culture.