Boston has a long and proud history if Irish immigrants, so it should come as no surprise that the city hosts an Irish Festival every year. While you may have missed the annual Irish Festival that takes place in the summer, you have another opportunity to enjoy Irish culture this month. With the help of a special event taking place at Fenway Park this month, you can sample Irish food and watch Irish dancers and athletes as they play an exciting exhibition match of hurling.
Hurling in Fenway Park
Boston’s annual Irish Festival kicks off with a game of hurling in Fenway Park. Taking place on November 22nd with a start time of 11:00 am, this year’s hurling match will featuring two of the sport’s biggest teams: Dublin and 2015 All-Ireland Finalist Galway. Billed as “the world’s fastest field sport,” this year’s event will be the first time hurling has been played in Fenway Park since 1954.
While Fenway Park does not offer a field that is exactly the same size as what is typically used for the game of hurling, a few modifications to the rules will help make it possible to bring the exhibition game to Boston. Interestingly, while hurling matches draw in more than 80,000 fans in Ireland, all of the players are amateurs with day jobs and no sports contracts. Rather, they all play just for the love of the game.
With origins dating back to prehistoric times, hurling is one of Ireland’s native Gaelic games. The sport shares many similarities to Gaelic football, including the field and goals, much of the terminology and the number of players. Traditionally, the game features 15 players per team, though the exhibition match at Fenway will only have 11 due to field size constraints. The goal of the game is to hit a small ball called a sliotar between the opponent’s goalposts with a wooden stick called a hurley. Hitting the ball over the crossbar counts as one point, while hitting it under the crossbar into a net that is guarded by a goalkeeper counts as three points. Again, due to the difference in field size, only three-point shots will count with the Fenway game.
Let the Festivities Continue
In addition to hosting the Hurling Classic, the park will also host the Irish Festival throughout the day. The festival will include Irish food, music and dancing, with a closing performance provided by Boston-based American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphy’s. Founded in 1996 in Quincy, Massachusetts, Dropkick Murphy’s is a local band that has gained national success. The band is known for its energetic performances and Gaelic sounds.
Events such as the Irish Festival are partially made possible with the help of organizations such as Irish Network Boston, which was founded in 2010. The organization works tirelessly to promote a link between the United States and Ireland. This is made possible with the help of events, networking opportunities, partnerships and working with local and national sister organizations. The organization just recently hosted its 5th Anniversary Celebration at the Massachusetts State House.