Irish History Live


GAA by Barry Sheppard

The Gaelic Athletic Association (G.A.A.) was, according to Hutchinson, one of ‘no less than three attempts since the 1870s to stage an ethnic revival’.[1] It is suggested that the organisation was founded as a consequence of an article, 'A Word about Irish athletics', most likely penned by Michael Cusack, [2] which lamented the fact that traditional Irish games had been abandoned because of English rule. This article argued that the Irish who played sports were degraded by being forced to compete in and be defeated at an English game, and that the only solution was for the Irish to take the management of their own games in their own hands. It could be argued that the G.A.A. was a perfect example of an organisation that appealed to the separatist ideals of a radicalised population.

[1] J. Hutchinson, The dynamics of cultural nationalism: the Gaelic revival and the creation of the Irish nation state (London, 1987), p. 117.

[2] W. F. Mandel, ‘The I.R.B. and the beginnings of the Gaelic Athletic Association’ in Irish Historical Studies, xx, no. 80 (1977), pp 418-38.

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This entry was written by Barry Sheppard. Barry is a part-time student, studying History and Social Sciences. He is interested in social and cultural history, in particular the study of Irish cultural nationalist groups. He is currently working on his dissertation.

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