Cultural nationalism, Gaelic Sunday and the Gaelic Athletic Association in early twentieth century Ireland

Andrew McGuire, David Hassan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
224 Downloads (Pure)


To date, much of the established historical literature on the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), the governing body of Gaelic games in Ireland, has focused on the potential or perceived political agency of the organisation. To this end, great swathes of work that has centred on early twentieth century Ireland has also examined the extent of the relationship the GAA had with other nationalist bodies inthe country at that time, such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), or at the very least the role of GAA members who were also part of such groups. However, theGAA failed in fact to adopt any official ‘political’ position during this period, albeit with one notable exception – a mass demonstration that came to be referred to as‘Gaelic Sunday’. The example of Gaelic Sunday will be used during the course of this article to demonstrate the actual position of the GAA during this time and in so doing temper the pervasive view abroad, one that the GAA is perhaps too willing to acquiesce with, that it somehow played something close to a defining role in the broader political and revolutionary pursuit of partial independence for Ireland. Rather, as this article will confirm, the GAA’s role within early twentieth century Irish society, whilst undoubtedly revealing it to be a powerful nationalist body, remained nevertheless much more cultural than political in nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)912-923
JournalThe International Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Reference text: ‘Athletics and Sports’, Anglo-Celt, August 3, 1918, 5.
‘Ban on Irish Games’, Nenagh Guardian, July 27, 1918, 2.
Bureau of Military History, ‘Maurice Horgan Witness Statement’, WS 953, National Archives
of Ireland.
Chief Secretary’s Office, ‘Hayden to Duke, 23 Nov. 1916’, 1916 Rising Collection CSO 5645/
25633, National Archives Ireland.
Dublin Castle Records, ‘Order under Defence of the Realm Regulation 9AA’, CO904/92/169/2,
The National Archives (microfilm, National Archives Ireland).
‘Gaelic Games all over Ireland’, Irish Independent, August 5, 1918, 3.
‘Gaelic Sunday’, Irish Times, August 5, 1918, 4.
‘Gaelic Sunday’, Nenagh Guardian, August 3, 1918, 4.
House of Commons, ‘Weekly Rest-Day Bill’, Sessional Papers, 1914, Orders of the Day,
22 May 1914, vol. 62, col. 2223–2301.
House of Commons, ‘Mr. Dillon’s Motion’, Sessional Papers, 1918, Government of Ireland,
29 July 1918, vol. 109, col 45–201.
House of Commons, ‘Ireland’, Sessional Papers, 1918, Adjournment of the House (Autumn),
8 August 1918, vol. 109, col. 1636–1666.
House of Commons, ‘Meetings (Permits)’, Sessional Papers, 1918, Ireland, 25 July 1918,
vol. 108, col. 1978–1979.
‘Irish Proclamation, A Stupid Confusion’, Manchester Guardian, August 13, 1918, 4.
‘Irish Prohibitions’, Irish Independent, July 30, 1918, 3.
‘Irish Sports: Ban Removed’, Manchester Guardian, July 31, 1918, 4.
‘News of The Week: Provincial’, Weekly Irish Times, August 17, 1918, 3.
‘Novel Hurling, Match A’, Irish Independent, August 8, 1918, 3.
‘Patron of Kieran, The’, Meath Chronicle, August 3, 1918, 6.
‘Proclamation and Irish Games’, Manchester Guardian, July 31, 1918, 4.
‘Proclamation and Irish Games’, Irish Independent, August 1, 1918, 3.
‘Taking over of Public Offices: Permits for Religious Gatherings!’ Irish Independent, August 6, 1918, 1.


  • Gaelic Athletic Association
  • Irish cultural nationalism
  • Gaelic Sunday
  • Irish independence
  • Royal Irish Constabulary


Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural nationalism, Gaelic Sunday and the Gaelic Athletic Association in early twentieth century Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this