When we were invited along to The Junior Explorer Tour in Croke Park recently, I was delighted – not least because a few of my kids have developed a real interest in GAA and several of them had never been to Croke Park before. There was also the added bonus that my sports-mad hubby and I would get to see parts of Croke Park that we hadn’t seen before. So on a bright and cold Saturday morning, we bundled up and headed off with the four of the children.
What “The Little Explorers Tour” involves.
The tour started at 10:30am with a meet and greet with Cluasóg, the hare, and a chance to have the kids’ photo taken with him. Then it was onwards to explore with (in our case anyway) the most enthusiastic tour guide we could have asked for.
The guide involved the children every step of the way, asking questions as we went along and chatting to their kids about their favourite teams and experiences. In the players’ lounge we learned that the enormous Waterford Crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling is insured for a six figure sum, can be made to shine any colour (except black) and has 32 football shaped globes hanging from it to represent the 32 counties. Then the guide did his bit for all the parents there by informing the kids that the meals provided for the players are dictated by a nutritionist and that you can’t be a fussy eater if you want to succeed in GAA sports!
The players dressing room caused huge excitement and the county jerseys were on display – even their daddy’s home county, Carlow!
He found his own though too !
The youngest meanwhile much preferred the county colours of Clare!
During our time in the players’ dressing room, our tour guide spoke us to about the players’ preparations ahead of a game and, as I was delighted to hear, focused on the women’s teams too! The women’s football final had an attendance of over 50,000 -the highest attendance of a women’s sporting event globally in 2018
Then after a quick look around the warm up room, it was time to run out the players’ tunnel to the sound of bands playing music and the crowd roaring – it was brilliantly realistic.
Inside the grounds is hugely impressive – no surprise as it’s the third largest stadium in Europe. And once there, there was a chance to hold the *Sam Maguire and *Liam MacCarthy cups aloft (*may not have been the real thing ;-))
One cup may have almost been as big as the youngest..
Afterwards it was back to the museum where there’s loads to see and the kids are given the task of finding the clues on the young explorers passport. There’s also an interactive area where the kids can test their sporting skills – and the parents had great craic testing them too!
We absolutely loved and if I’m honest it was even better than I anticipated. The tour takes about an hour and a half and the kids were engrossed the whole way around. The Junior Explorer Tour was described as being of interest to all family members but particularly those under 8 – I’d actually dispute that. I think it will hold appeal for children up to age of 12. My 10 and 12 year olds loved it!
If you fancy going along yourself
The tours are running from the GAA museum every Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m until May 18th and the route is fully pushchair and wheelchair accessible. If you fancy going along you can book tickets here
*We were invited as guests to The Junior Explorer Tour but my review is a completely honest reflection of my experience.