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

Andrew McGuire, David Hassan

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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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 - 15 Feb 2012


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


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