See where the Gaelic Games Association was conceived pre 1884
Visit the Michael Cusack Centre
Michael Cusack Centre, Carron, the Burren, North Clare
In Clare, we love our traditional music, but we love our Gaelic Games too! There are six different games in the family of Gaelic Games. These are hurling, Gaelic football, handball, rounders, camogie, and ladies football. The games are governed by the Gaelic Athletic Association (The GAA) and is celebrated as one of the greatest amateur sporting associations in the world. The Association was founded in 1884, and Clare is the home of its founder, Michael Cusack. His original homestead is located in Carron in the Burren and it has been fully restored. The Michael Cusack Centre also features a contemporary visitor centre that is open to the public.
Take in a hurling match – the fastest field game in the world
It is a thrilling, high-scoring, fiercely competitive game
Hurling is one of our national games, and its exciting combination of speed and skill is why it’s often described as the greatest field sport in the world. It’s undoubtedly the fastest, with the sliotar (the ball used in hurling) travelling at speeds of up to 180 km per hour! Watching players soloing with the sliotar on a hurley stick at full speed before driving the ball with power and accuracy is unique in world sports. The women’s version is known as camogie and is equally fast-paced. You’ll love the fierce rivalry between the teams, the speed of the game, and the passion of the spectators next to you in the stands, with their club or county colours waving as they cheer on their team. It is an authentic part of Irish life, unlike anything you will have experienced before.
Cusack Park in Ennis is County Clare’s home of hurling and is a hive of activity during the spring and summer months, with Clare’s county teams competing in league and championship games. Many of the games often are sell-outs, so booking is advised. Fr. McNamara Park in Doora is the venue for Camogie games, while the many club grounds dotted across the county always afford a warm welcome to visitors.
You can check out fixtures and book tickets at www.gaa.ie
Witness a Gaelic Football match
Some say it’s like Australian Football, but on steroids!
Gaelic Football is an exciting and powerful game and is played with a regular-sized ball that is kicked, caught and passed around the field to secure a goal (under the ‘h-shaped’ posts) or a point (over the bar). A goal equals three points. Games last a rip-roaring and hugely competitive 70 minutes. Similar to hurling, all the players are amateurs. They train hard for most of the year and play only for the pride and glory of their team, parish, county, and followers. The top inter-county players are as powerful and as fit as professional athletes in other codes.
Cusack Park in Ennis is also County Clare’s home of Gaelic Football, with Clare’s county teams competing in league and championship games. Many of the games are sell-outs, so booking is advised. There are also pitches all around the county where county club games are played. The county team play in blue and gold, and if you cheer them on by shouting “Come on the Banner”, you’ll be an adopted Clare supporter!
You can check out fixtures and book tickets at www.gaa.ie
Watch Munster Rugby and local Clare Rugby
County Clare is located in the ‘rugby mad’ province of Munster
The mid-nineties successes of the Munster Rugby team led to an explosion of interest and participation in the sport, with many Clare men and women going on to represent the province and Ireland. The local clubs in Shannon, Ennis, Kilrush, Scariff and Killaloe always provide a warm welcome to visitors during their busy programme of fixtures throughout the year. Thomond Park – the home of Munster Rugby – is located close to the border with Clare in Limerick City, where you can enjoy Munster playing inter-provincial games or Champions Cup and other ties against some of Europe’s top sides.
Enjoy the thrill of Point to Point horse racing
On farmlands and beaches
Horse Racing is undoubtedly one of the most popular and thrilling sports in Ireland, and Clare has a long tradition of producing champion jockeys and breeding classic-winning horses. The county boasts a reputation for Point-to-Point, which often is described as the grassroots of horse racing in Ireland. Each April, Quakerstown Point-to-Point in Boston in North Clare provides the perfect vista against the backdrop of the majestic Burren to enjoy this exciting spectacle. The Belharbour Point-to-Point, the history of which dates to 1817, is held every February. The Strand Races, once held as an annual celebration for farmers marking the end of the harvest, take place in Kilkee every September. Poles are placed on the beach to set up the course, and the race begins when the tide goes out at one of Clare’s most scenic coastal locations.
Watch a Golf Tournament (or play the top courses)
Watch the current or future greats
County Clare has eleven top-class golf courses – each one is uniquely challenging. Most clubs in Clare host golf tournaments. In 2023, Dromoland Castle, one of Ireland’s best parkland courses, welcomes back The KPMG Women’s Irish Open from 31 August to 3 September. This will offer you the opportunity to see the finest golfers in the world compete. Leona Maguire, Ireland’s top female golfer, will once again tee it up at Dromoland Castle as she seeks to become the first Irish winner of the event.
Lahinch Golf Club will host the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship from 26 to 30 July. This tournament dates back to 1895 and is an opportunity to see golfing stars of the future. Previous Irish winners who went on to become top professional golfers include John O’Leary, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, and Graeme McDowell. Padraig Harrington was twice a beaten finalist. A unique atmosphere pertains at every “South” as the top Irish amateur golfers join many overseas contenders and strive to win the most famous trophy in Irish amateur golf.
If you are a golfer, you can play on any of Clare’s top courses. You can see them all here.