'This is a remarkable book . . it engrosses the reader.' Bill Mallon, Journal of Olympic History 'The research that underpins this work is impressive in its use of a wide range of source material much of it being used in a work of Irish history for the first time.' International Journal of the History of Sport
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Shortlisted for the Aberdare Literary Prize 2011 & International Society of Olympic Historians 2011
This book sheds light on the half-known story of Irish involvement in the Olympic Games prior to independence. The author's research has unearthed a huge amount of information, most of it previously unpublished. Few people will have known that hurling and Gaelic football formed part of an Olympic Games, or that Ireland competed as a separate nation in events like bicycle polo and hockey long before independence.
Kevin McCarthy follows the story of Irish and Irish American Olympic involvement from its accidental beginnings in 1896 through to the very significant political issues which dominated Irish sports and Irish Olympic aspirations in the early 20th century. He has traced the role played by the Olympic Games in the evolution of a national identity in Ireland, and in the emergence of Irish America as a major sporting and political force in the USA. Political figures from Arthur Griffith, Roger Casement and John Devoy are all entwined in the Irish Olympic story.
The work highlights the divisions and complexities within Irish sport, as well as the significant influence of the British Olympic Association as a barrier to Irish recognition at the Games. It charts the political intrigue behind the scenes in London and Lausanne as Ireland sought Olympic recognition after the 1921 Treaty. Most of all, this work highlights the magnificent achievements of the sportsmen, and one woman, who originated in the main from rural Ireland and won substantial Olympic success in throwing and jumping events, the Marathon, tennis, and other events.