IRELAND'S FLAGSHIP GAA pitch is to play host to the Muslim prayer festival Eid Al Adha for the second year running.
Croke Park is set to host an estimated 200 people for Eid Al Adha later this month for a socially distanced celebration of one of the most important dates in the Muslim calendar.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in Ireland in March 2020, Croke Park has been used as everything from a testing site for the virus to a place for worshippers to pray in a safe way, as well as hosting Ireland's national sports when restrictions allow.
Last summer, roughly 200 people attended the socially-distanced celebrations, all wearing facemasks and keeping back from one another, with a speech from Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O'Gorman marking the beginning of the event.
Dr Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, who is the chair of the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council, led attendees in saying the Eid prayer, delivering part of his speech in Irish and paying tribute to Ireland's tradition of welcome and inclusivity.
This year the sports ground will again be used to host Eid Al Adha, with GAA President Larry McCarthy saying it was "wonderful to be able to host the celebration of Eid Al Adha in our stadium" last year as the pitch remained " out of commission for games for long periods".
"We are all delighted to have our games back with some supporters in attendance, and we are also very pleased to be able to host the 2021 Eid celebration," he said.
"The event was a huge success and symbolised our ongoing efforts to foster inclusion and diversity throughout the community.
"We extend a warm welcome to those who will be in attendance and look forward to working with Dr Umar Al-Qadri and his colleagues in the planning of the event."
Speaking on behalf of the organisers, the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC) Chairperson, Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, added: "I am delighted that the Gaelic Athletic Association and the team at Croke Park have once again provided us with the opportunity to gather as a community in Croke Park to celebrate the occasion of Eid al-Adha.
"The media coverage of last year's event was well received around the globe, generating huge goodwill for the GAA and Irish society wherever it reached.
"This year's event will build on that, strengthening the relations between the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council and the GAA as we remember that we are stronger together, and we must all emulate the GAA's example in providing spaces and places ‘Where We All Belong’."