Updated last year

Sports are a huge part of Irish culture, whether you want to participate as a player or a spectator. From the traditional to the mainstream, Ireland plays them all. Gaelic football and hurling are the quintessential Irish sports that remain the most popular in the country. Football, rugby, and golf are also favoured sports. Ireland does well in sports professionally and is often represented in high profile world sporting events, like the Olympics and World Cups.

Gaelic football

Gaelic football is undoubtedly the most popular Irish sport. It is regulated by the Gaelic Athletic Association and represented at the national level by regional and county teams. Each team consists of 15 players, and the game itself is played with hands and legs while dribbling and making passes. Every two years Ireland participates in a football competition against Australia whose own football is similar to Gaelic football. Ireland also holds the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship every year.


Hurling is the next most popular sport played by the Irish. It has been around for 3,000 years, and is similar to the Scottish game of shinty. In fact, the Irish and Scottish play each other in these games but with modified rules. It is the fastest field sport in the world, and involves players hitting a small ball between goal posts using a stick called a hurley. It also has features in common with Gaelic football, such as 15 players per side and much of the terminology. Most Irish schools and colleges have their own hurling teams. Major hurling competitions are generally held from May to September and with finals taking place in Dublin at the end of September. The women’s version of hurling is called camogie.


Rugby is one of Ireland's most popular sports, particularly at university level. The country has a national team with the different counties' best players. The Irish Rugby Championship, or Celtic League, is held every year involving Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian teams. Ireland also participates in the Rugby World Cup.

Association football

The Irish are also association football, or soccer, fans. This sport, however, is less popular than Gaelic football and hurling. Football in Ireland is regulated by the Irish Football Association, and Cork City, Dundalk, Sporting Fingal, Shamrock Rovers, and Derry City are currently the top ranking teams. The best Irish players often leave their teams for British and Scottish teams.


Ireland is also famous for its hundreds of golf courses, including the Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portmarnock and Ballybunion. Many of the most famous golfers boast about their love of golfing in Ireland. It’s a great place to play for professionals and amateurs alike. Ireland is home to several world golf champions, namely Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke.

Other sports

Due to Ireland's mild climate, beautiful landscapes, and proximity to coastline, you can also enjoy many outdoor sports such as cycling, horse riding, fishing, sailing, rowing, swimming, and surfing. Gyms and wellness centers are prevalent in most of the country if you prefer a personal, indoor class. Mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, has recently gained more popularity in Ireland thanks to current superstar Conor McGregor.

 Useful links:

Sport Club 321
Golf Ireland

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.