Games and sports are a huge part of Ireland’s culture. They are a nation of great athletes and they enjoy the competition and fun of supporting a team.
In Dublin, the Republic of Ireland is the owner of the Bohemians, their professional football (or soccer, in The US) team. Football is a huge part of Irish culture, and it is very common for the Irish to rally behind a sports team or gather together to watch their teams play.
Another important game in Ireland is rugby. Rugby, or rugby football, is a game that came from England in the 1400’s, that’s a little like American Football, but still very much it’s own game. Players gather on a 100 meter field and attempt to move a ball to the goal zone, and try to “ground” the ball, which means touching the ball to the ground with their hand still on it.
The ball they use is a unique ball, however. It is a sort of oval shape, like a football, but much wider and rounder. This is important because in Rugby, the ball can do a lot of bouncing. When players are running the ball up the field, if they get tackled the must drop the ball, but the game keeps going. In American Football, when a player gets tackled, that is the end of the “play”, but in Rugby, the play keeps going until the ball is out of bounds, or someone scores.
Also, players can kick the ball up the field while they play, but they cannot pass the ball forward to their teammates, only sideways or backwards.
All of these rules add up to a very energetic and fast-paced game that many Irish people love.
If there is one game, however, that the Irish really take pride in, it is Hurling. Hurling is a game straight from Ireland, and only played in Ireland. In Hurling, players use a hockey-stick like club called a hurley to hit a ball (a sliotar) over the other team’s goal for one point, or through the goal posts for three points.
There are many complex rules for passing and moving the ball up the field, but it might be best to ask an Irish person. Hurley tends to be one of their favorite subjects to talk about, because it is a point of pride for them. Most people in the world have never heard of it, or don’t understand it when it is explained to them, because it is quite complicated. On top of that, it is an incredibly fast-paced game that requires a great amount of strength, intelligence, and speed. Also, there are no professional Hurley teams. It is simply played by people who love the game.
From the sounds of Rugby and Hurling, it might appear that the Irish only play very intense, physically demanding games. While this is often true, they have their slow-paced games as well.
One very low-key game that the Irish have been known to play (in certain parts of the country) is road-bowling. Usually played on a Sunday, or a day when people have plenty of free time, road-bowling is a little bit like golf.
Basically, players take softball-sized heavy balls, and try to roll them down seldom-used country roads to a designated destination. Most of the roads in Ireland are quite narrow and winding, so road-bowling can take a while. A player will roll a ball as far as he or she can, pick it up where it stopped, and roll again, keeping track of the number of turns it takes to finish. If it sounds a little strange, it probably is. Many Irish people agree that it’s a sort of strange pastime, and it is mostly played to be social. When you’re driving in Ireland, it pays to be careful, because there’s no telling when you’ll come across a group of road-bowlers.
Croquet was also said to have been developed in Ireland. Croquet is a leisurely lawn-game where players use a mallet to take turns hitting balls through a series of gates or “wickets”.
Of course, if the weather doesn’t permit outdoor festivities and games, the Irish Nation have lots of games to be played indoors by the fire. Playing darts is very popular, card games, pool, and snooker.