2. HurlingRegarded as "the fastest game on earth", hurling is played by two teams equipped with sticks (hurleys), chasing a small ball across a football-sized field. The ball can be prodded along the ground like in field hockey, may be carried on the hurley or smacked mid-air like a baseball. Speed, agility and marksmanship are in great demand. And even games between junior teams can take your breath away.
Historically this is the way football was played in public schools in Rugby - essentially not an Irish but an English game. This sectarian overtone has diminished and the "Six Nations" and other international events are immensely popular. The games in the international "Heiniken League" also draw sizeable crowds, especially when Leinster is playing at the RDS in Dublin.
4. SoccerIreland has the "Eircom League" catering for professional soccer, but the economic situation of most clubs is precarious. The whole Irish soccer scene is more of a "feeder operation" for English and Scottish clubs, with player legends like George Best (Belfast) and Roy Keane (Cork) becoming immensely successful there. International fixtures draw huge crowds both in the Republic and the North, each part of Ireland boasting its own national team.
5. GolfWhenever prestigious tournaments are hosted in Ireland, crowds of fans gather to observe the teeing off and putting of the world's golfing elite. Golf is a common pastime in Ireland, so is watching the game. So much that players actually feel crowded at times.
6. Horse Racing
"Having a flutter on the horses" is big business in Ireland, nearly every larger village will boast at least one betting shop and major races are covered live on TV. Any horse racing event will have a huge attendance and lively crowds. Major events like Galway Race Week and the Easter races at Fairyhouse are society occasions - do not miss any "Ladies' Day" if you are interested in fashion!
Find out more about Horse Racing in Ireland:
Despite some setbacks to Irish showjumping due to avoidable blunders and scandals, Irish horses and riders are ranked amongst the best in Europe. Be it individual stars or the riders from the Irish Army's Equestrian School. The main event to look out for is the Dublin Horse Show in Summer, held at the RDS Showgrounds and usually drawing riders and visitors from around the world to Ireland.