Rule 21...wha?

The GAA has now abolished rule 21 which bans members of the British armed forces or the Ulster police from joining that organisation. One reason is that the north's police force has been considerably revised (it is no longer called the RUC) and they are trying to attract members from various religions, particularly catholics. Hopefully we will see sport as a way of bringing the community together and acting as a great leveller.

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The Gaelic Athletic Association

The headquarters of the GAA is in Dublins northside at Croke Park near Drumcondra. It fosters Irish native games, namely hurling, football (Gaelic football), handball, rounders and camogie. The first two named are by far the most popular and are played at local, county and national level. Tournaments are often arranged between Australian rules sides and Irish football sides. Due to the promotion of native games and the discouragement of foreign games, only GAA-approved sports may be played at Croke Park. There have been recent moves to change this, particularly to allow Association soccer to be played there but the GAA membership voted against this. Another political hotcake tackled by the GAA is the ban on members of the British forces joining the Northern Irish counties and clubs. These are also discouraged for the same reasons but I believe there are quite a few members of the Crown forces who secretly play, such is their enthusiasm for the sport!

A must-see for GAA fans is the GAA Museum at Croke Park. It gives an interactive view of sporting history in Ireland, focussing on Gaelic football and hurling. It is also an opportunity to see the 82,500 seater stadium (one of the largest stadia in these islands and far bigger than all UK soccer stadia). Open every day from May-September, from October-April it is closed Mondays and opens on Sundays from 12 noon.Croke Park is in Drumcondra, Jones's Road and accessible by buses 3, 11, 11A, 16, 16A, 123 and by rail from Drumcondra station (10 minutes walk) or Connolly Station (15 minutes walk).(21.10.02).



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