Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and the largest city in the country. It is home to most of the nation's leading political, economic and sporting institutions, and is also the main tourist draw, attracting more than seven million visitors every year.
The centre of Belfast is packed with a wide and eclectic choice of accommodation, ranging from luxurious five star hotels to budget priced hostels offering a bed for backpackers working their way around Ireland. Some people travel to Belfast in order to sample the legendary Irish nightlife, others come for business meetings or conferences and the vibrant cultural scene draws tens of thousands of visitors every year, particularly during events such as the Belfast Film Festival.
Sport in Belfast
Besides culture, art, nightlife and history, Belfast offers an array of options for those keen on sports. There are 14 golf courses within the city, many just a short drive away, and keen anglers are spoiled for choice when it comes to loughs and rivers in which to cast a line. If you’re interested in spectating rather than participating, then Casement Park is the perfect place to visit in order to get a taste of a uniquely Irish sport.
Finding Casement Park
Casement Park is a Gaelic Athletic Association stadium located on Anderstown Road, near to the centre of Belfast. It is the home ground of the Antrim football and hurling teams, and it was officially opened in June 1953, having been named after Republican figure Sir Roger Casement. The current capacity of the ground is 32,600 and there are plans to embark on a refurbishment that will seat it revamped as a 38,000 all-seater stadium.
About Gaelic football
Gaelic football, the sport principally played at Casement Park, is the most popular sport in the whole of Ireland, measured on the number of spectators it attracts. A match involves two teams of 15 trying to score into each other’s goals or directly over the crossbar. As with soccer, the ball is spherical, but a major difference lies in the way in which the ball can be moved. Members of a Gaelic football team are allowed to carry, bounce, kick or throw the ball forward or to a teammate.
When to visit Casement Park
There are two major competitions involving Gaelic football, the National League and the All-Ireland Championship, since Gaelic football is still played on a basis that ignores the division between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The national league matches are held between late January or early February and early May, while the All-Ireland matches take place from May to September. There should be matches at Casement Park throughout these periods, and attending one will give you the chance to soak up the atmosphere of an authentic Irish event.
After the match, your city centre hotel room, or else the bars and pubs scattered throughout the city of Belfast, will be just a short journey away, whether you’re driving or using the buses that run to and from Casement Park throughout the day.