• Aidan Beatty
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


With the war over, it was time for a celebration. In 1922, the Irish Free State began to plan a major spectacle, the Tailteann Games, billed as ‘The Irish Race Olympic’. It did not bode well, though, that the planned 1922 Games had to be cancelled due to threats of Republican violence.2 Rescheduled to 1924, the Games were held every four years until 1932, when they ran afoul of government parsimony and Fianna Fáil hostility towards a Treatyite event.3 While the Northern Whig, a solidly unionist newspaper, may have dismissed the 1924 Games as being nothing but ‘An Anti-British Meeting’,4 in actuality they were an expression of the prevailing ideology of the new Free State, an ideology that stretched back at least to the 1880s. Indeed, most of the themes that this book has sought to understand were present in these events. As well as signifying the power of the new state, the Games expressed a redeemed ancient Irish past, the reviving of a supposedly ancient, but in reality invented, festival said to have been inaugurated in 632 bcby the eponymous Tailte, ‘a wise and much loved’ Queen.5 The Games’ chief organiser, J.J. Walsh, echoed a common claim that the Tailteann Games had survived throughout antiquity, only to be ended by the Anglo-Norman invasion.6 The ‘revival’ of these Games thus marked a return to a time when the nation was not under English control. This athletic form of time travel was suitable for ‘the new historical days in Ireland’7 after 1922.


National Liberation History Writing Revisionist Historian Irish Language English Control 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aidan Beatty
    • 1
  1. 1.Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies & School of Canadian Irish StudiesConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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