GAA the perfect tourist attraction for North
ONE of the North’s leading political figures has said that the Ulster GAA football and hurling championships have the potential to become one of the North’s leading tourist attractions.
Speaking exclusively to Gaelic Life, Stormont’s minister for sport, Caral Ni Chuilin, paid tribute to the important role which Ulster GAA plays in society here, and spoke of her desire to see the GAA and other sporting bodies receive the same level of support as the arts.
Ni Chuillin was at Titanic Belfast for the launch of the Ulster Football Championships last week, and made it clear that she recognises how the GAA has evolved into an even more important component of our society.
The figures speak for themselves. 120,000 people, of all ages, attended last year’s Ulster Championships. Already this year attendance figures for the McKenna Cup have risen on previous years, and this summer looks set to be another bumper one for Ulster GAA with attendances at championship clashes expected to hold firm in the face of pressure from other global sporting events, assisted by the price reductions and ticketing packages which Ulster GAA have introduced this term.
But above all else, it is the games which the minister believes have the greatest appeal and which keep patrons coming back for more. There is potential there to not only build on attendances by attracting those locals from within the province who may not previously have sampled Gaelic games, but also amongst an international and tourist audience, and she has seen first-hand the way Gaelic games can captivate the imagination.
“I was at Casement Park for a game recently and there were a group of Australians in front of me. They had been introduced to the games by Irish friends they had met in Australia, and when they had come to visit Belfast they had wanted to see a local match, and they were genuinely engrossed the game.”
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published Thursday May 10. Buy your copy now in your newsagent, or online by clicking the subscribe button on this page