Croke Park reaches amazing (and scary) new heights
In a departure from the traditional Hospital Pass format, JOE’s Conor Heneghan experiences the Croke Park Skyline Tour and lives to tell the tale.
As a Mayo man, I fear danger every time I go to Croke Park.
More often than not, especially on big days, there have been plenty of grounds for my concerns as another team in green and red head back across the Shannon with no silverware to show for their efforts. Rarely, however, have I actually felt in fear of my life approaching GAA headquarters, or at least I didn’t until I made my way to do the Etihad Skyline tour in the hallowed stadium earlier this afternoon.
The idea of talking a stroll around the roof of the stadium, some 17 storeys and 44 metres above ground level was far too scary for some of my vertigo-suffering colleagues to even bear thinking about (not mentioning any names like Shane Breslin or Sean Nolan... oops), so I stepped up to the plate, with jokes about a Mayo man finally enjoying a high in Croke Park ringing loudly in my ears.
Thankfully my fears for my livelihood proved groundless, which is an appropriate word under the circumstances, particularly for the small stretch of the walkway suspended over the pitch at the Davin End.
We are often quick to criticise the GAA in this country, so we should also be quick to give them credit where it’s due and they deserve an awful lot of kudos for this attraction, which opened to the public only a few weeks ago. The views of the stadium itself from above are spectacular, but as well as that there is probably no better vantage point from which view the city of Dublin itself, especially on one of the rare fine days which we were fortunate to experience today.
On a clear day, you can see for miles around and the walking tour stops at five different platforms to give patrons the chance to see the various city landmarks such as the Guinness Brewery, the Spire, parts of Glasnevin Cemetery, the Aviva Stadium and even the Dublin Mountains way off in the distance.
People who don’t have a particularly good head for heights will obviously worry about being so far out of their comfort zone, but having done both, I can assure you that sitting in the upper tiers of the Cusack or the Hogan is a far scarier experience than walking around the stadium with the roof just below you.
The only real time your legs might get a little jelly-like is on the aforementioned walkway at the Davin End and besides, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to and there’s an optional harness to strap you in if looking down directly at the pitch below makes you weak at the knees.
Thrill seekers will be excited to know that there are plans to eventually introduce a zip-line that will take you from the Davin End all the way down to Hill 16 faster than a good Brendan Cummins puck out, but that’s a while away yet.
As it is, it’s still an excellent attraction and well worth a visit. Don’t take it from just me, however. A photographer in my exclusive media party of seven (they can take groups of up to 30) told our lovely tour guide Niamh Egan that he’d give the tour ten out of ten, a remark that was met with approving nods all around.
Like me, he couldn’t recommend it ‘highly’ enough (Awful pun honestly not intended... OK maybe a little intended).