Gaelic gamesSport at its most elemental RugbyPower and passion HorseracingThe story of Ireland’s thoroughbreds You’re standing in a stadium with the roars of 80,000 other spectators in your ears. You’re not entirely sure about the rules of the game, but you’re riveted by the speed, the ferocity, of what’s going on below. In Ireland, sport is passion. This might explain how a small island makes such a big impact on the sporting world. Our athletics champions have led us to gold. Our golfers have captained Europe in the Ryder Cup. In 2015, we won the Six Nations Championship. This all stems from the sporting spirit that’s deeply embedded in our culture, whether playing on home turf or the international stage. Sporting values Gaelic games are Ireland's amateur sports, but there’s nothing amateur about the style of play. Every September, tens of thousands of fans, bedecked in their county colours, make the pilgrimage to Dublin's Croke Park Stadium to see the All-Ireland Football and Hurling Championship finals. Fans celebrating after a match The spectators' roar of approval is a wave of sound that reverberates around the vast arena. Chris Van Ryan, photographer at the All-Ireland Hurling Finals 2014 Meanwhile, rugby's annual 6 Nations championship is a highlight of the sporting calendar, pitting the world’s best rugby players against each other in a battle of blood, sweat and tears for the coveted trophy. And all over the island, the buzz and excitement of horse racing is palpable. You don’t have to place a bet to have fun: the people and atmosphere are enough to guarantee a great day out. What makes Ireland such a great place to experience sport? It’s the people, the sense of community. Catch a GAA or rugby game anywhere on the island, from local matches to the biggest events: the enthusiasm for the game is the same at all levels. On match days, stadiums are a pulsating cauldron of sheer passion. It will give you goosebumps and make your heart flutter. Speaking of a flutter, Ireland is the best place to be if you fancy one. After all, we are known as the Land of the Horse. It’s woven deep into the fabric of Irish culture, and our world-class horse racing events prove it. The Galway Races, the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, and the Northern Ireland Festival of Racing at Down Royal are just three showstoppers on the equestrian calendar. After the winner has passed the post and the final whistle’s blown? Join the locals for a chat and a hearty meal at the local pub, with a celebratory drink to boot. Want to delve deeper into sport in Ireland? Explore the history of the GAA at the Croke Park museum. Make for Killarney and soak in the sights at one of Ireland’s most scenic racecourses. How about taking a deep breath as you stand in Limerick’s Thomond Park stadium, home of the legendary Munster team? No matter where you go in Ireland, you can feel the thrill of the game in the air. More to explore CyclingGet off the beaten track and on your bike. Pick your path and cycle your way around some of our world- famous cycling routes. WatersportsIn Ireland it’s water, water everywhere so make a splash: dive, canoe, kayak or simply cruise your way around the island. WalkingIreland may be small but from bogs to beaches, valleys to peaks, there’s a terrain to suit everyone. Time to strap on your hiking boots.