Histories, Identities, Issues
Essays by: Thomas Carter, Paul Darby, Gareth Fulton, Neal Garnham, David Hassan, Tom Hunt, Katie Liston, Jonathan Magee, Paul Rouse, Louise Ryan, Peter Shirlow, John Sugden, Jason Tuck
Although the word ‘sport’ was used commonly in Ireland long before the period that is covered by any of the essays in this collection, it normally referred to hunting, fishing and other such activities enjoyed by the Irish gentleman. In addition were the games played by ‘ordinary’ people and rumoured to have their origins in Ireland’s historic and mythic past.
Another book that I picked up at work, although this is much more readable than the last. That was on the film industry in Ireland, and I didn’t finish it because of its overly academic wordiness. Despite being a sociological look at sport in Ireland, this book, Sport and the Irish doesn’t suffer from that problem.
I found the first few chapters in particular to be very readable. Entertaining and informative. But there are a few flaws. It focuses far too much on the big sports, i.e. gaelic football, soccer and rugby. Other sports get the occasional mention, but nothing like the attention given to the big three. I suppose this is understandable, given that they all have long histories in Ireland, and have played a large role in Irish life, but I would have liked to see some more sports covered.
There is a similar problem with geography. Far too much space is devoted to Northen Ireland. Once you get into the second section (Identities) almost every chapter concerns itself with Northern Ireland and the problems of religious division and the political barriers. I’m not saying that sport in Northern Ireland isn’t important, but the book is called Sport and the Irish, not Sport and the Northern Irish.
All that being said this is still a good read. There is a little bit of repetition every now and then, but that is only to be expected in a collection of essays by different authors such as this, and for the most part they cover different ground.
Personally I found the history section the most enjoyable, with the very first chapter concerning the first ever sporting newspaper in Ireland, called, originally enough, Sport, and its journalists and columnists, like one who went by the name of Lux;
[he was] an outstanding crank who operated on the principle that everything modern was wrong
Looks like there is at least somethings have remained the same since then.