Without the Aid of a Sporting Safety Net: The Irish Emigre in San Francisco and the Gaelic Athletic Association (1888-c.1938)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article builds on an emerging corpus of work that seeks to uncover the history and social, cultural and political significance of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in the United States. However, it also marks a departure from any of the published work to date because for the first time, it addresses the place of Gaelic games in the lives of the Irish émigré in the San Francisco Bay area. The article accounts for the origins and early history of the GAA here, and details the key agents and agencies responsible for the Association’s development during the first 50 years of its existence. In doing so, it reveals that the GAA’s growth in San Francisco appears to have been more moderately paced than it was in some of America’s other centres of Irish immigration, particularly Boston, New York and Chicago. The article concludes by exploring the reasons for this and argues that a combination of quantitative differences in levels of Irish immigration to America’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts and qualitative differences in the nature of the experiences of the Irish émigré in San Francisco were key in this regard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
JournalThe International Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • Gaelic Games
  • Irish America
  • Irish Diaspora
  • San Francisco
  • Gaelic Athletic Association
  • GAA

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