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November 03 , 2008

Emigrant Players

Sport and the Irish Diaspora


Ireland and its inhabitants have often been described as being ‘sports mad’. As a relatively small geographical entity, Ireland, north and south, has produced a disproportionately high number of world class sports men and women who have excelled at the highest levels of their chosen sport. The significance of sport in Ireland though extends far beyond the achievements of such individuals. Sport has historically assumed a centrality in the lives of the island’s inhabitants, a fact that can be measured by the numbers and commitment of participants as well as the emotional and financial investment of fans.

This book seeks to address the ways in which Irish aptitude and ebullience for sport has manifested itself in those parts of the world that have or have had relatively large Irish communities. The first part of the book explores the diffusion of Gaelic games to a number of centres of Irish immigration and examines the social, economic, political and psychological impact that these games had in helping the Diaspora adjust to life in what were often inhospitable environs. The second part of the book extends the analysis by examining the contribution of Irish sports men and women to the sports culture that they encountered in their new homes and assessing the ways in which their involvement in these sports allowed them to come to terms with and make their way in their new locales.

This book was previously published as a special issue of the journal, Sport in Society

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