Baseball in Ireland? Yes!
The Baseball United Foundation (BUF) was founded in 2006 to support the development of amateur baseball programs in Ireland. As our geographical footprint has expanded to other countries, our work in Ireland remains a source of great pride and a central focus.
Ireland has a rich history of bat and ball games — the ancient gaelic sport of hurling is the second most popular sport in Ireland. The game of rounders — a game with significant similarities to baseball — is a popular game with school children. Irish schoolchildren are interested in playing baseball, because of the game’s association with America and because the sport-specific skill of hitting a baseball is familiar to them, thanks to rounders and hurling.
Challenges Facing the Development of Baseball in Ireland
Organized baseball began in Dublin in the early 1990s. But because Ireland lacks the necessary “baseball infrastructure” to support the game, baseball has struggled to expand beyond the metro areas of Dublin and Belfast. Since 2006, we have provided support to amateur and youth baseball programs, especially in rural areas.
The biggest challenges facing the growth of Irish youth baseball are:
- Lack of volunteer coaches
- Lack of equipment
- Lack of fields
Baseball United Foundation: Supporting Irish Baseball Since 2006
Programs and Initiatives in Ireland:
- Shipping Donated Equipment to Ireland
- Introducing baseball into Irish primary schools
- Bringing young Irish players to America for baseball camps
- Sending American coaches to Ireland for baseball camps and clinics
- Sending MLB umpires to Ireland to train amateur officials
- Providing support for field construction and improvement projects
- Providing Remote Video Instruction to players and coaches
- Assisting with the recruiting process for Ireland’s Mens and Under-18 National Baseball Teams
- Starting and managing logistics for Ireland’s first Under-18 Irish Junior National Baseball Team
- Fundraising and Financial Support for amateur leagues and clubs throughout Ireland
Timeline: Baseball United in Ireland
- Shipped over 100 lbs of youth baseball equipment to Dublin
- Shipped baseball equipment to primary schools in West Clare to introduce the game of baseball into Irish primary schools
- Shipped bats, balls, and gloves to the Royal School, County Cavan
- Provided video instruction to a 13-year old pitcher from County Cavan and 17-year old Irish catcher who hopes to play baseball at an American college
- Shipped donated gloves to the Belfast Youth Baseball Academy
- Sent American coach Eric Helmrich to County Meath for one week to run a baseball camp for kids and to work with younger players on the Irish National Team
- Shipped bats, balls and bases to primary and secondary schools in County Cavan and County Monaghan
- Started the Under-18 Irish Junior National Baseball Team. Directed recruiting, fundraising, and logistical operations. Over $35,000 raised and Team Ireland won the gold medal at the European Championship Tournament in Zurich, Switzerland!
- Directed recruiting, fundraising, and logistical operations for the Under-18 Irish Junior National Baseball Team’s trip to Italy for the European Baseball Championship Tournament.
- Brought 16-year old Irish baseball player Fionn Gallaher-Hall to the USA to attend a one-week Nike Baseball Camp.
Teaching Baseball to Children in Ireland: The BUF Approach
Teaching baseball to children is not an easy task. Even in America, where baseball is one of the most popular spectator sports, the number of children playing baseball is steadily declining in many communities, due in large part to poorly trained volunteer coaches.
The problems faced by youth baseball programs in America are magnified in countries where baseball is not traditionally played. However, Ireland’s rich history of bat and ball games, coupled with the familiarity of Irish children with the game of rounders — the “ancestral sport” of baseball — provides a starting point for teaching the game to children.
The Irish American Baseball Society
In 2018, the Baseball United Foundation established the Irish American Baseball Society. IABS celebrates the contributions of Irish Americans to the game of baseball while working to advance the growth of the game of baseball in Ireland.
If you are an Irish American interested in celebrating the influence of the Irish on the game of baseball, we invite you to join the Irish American Baseball Society. Membership is free. Signup by using the form below. For details, visit IrishBaseball.org.