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Reimagining Irish Studies for the Twenty-First Century

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Edited By Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien

This landmark collection marks the publication of the 100th book in the Reimagining Ireland series. It attempts to provide a «forward look» (as opposed to what Frank O’Connor once referred to as the « backward look») at what Irish Studies might look like in the third millennium. With a Foreword by Declan Kiberd, it also contains essays by several other leading Irish Studies experts on (among other areas) literature and critical theory, sport, the Irish language, food and beverage studies, cinema, women’s writing, Brexit, religion, Northern Ireland, the legacy of the Great Famine, Ireland in the French imagination, archival research, musicology, and Irish Studies in North America. The book is a tribute to Irish Studies’ foundational commitment to revealing and renewing Irishness within and beyond the national space.

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17 Sport and the Irish

Extract

PAUL ROUSE

The meaning of sport is to be found in its unrelenting capacity to colonise the mind as well as the body. This simple truth goes a long way towards explaining the centrality and the ubiquity of sport in modern Ireland. There are aspects of sport in Ireland that are uniquely Irish and are defined by the peculiarities of a small island on the edge of Europe, where life has long been lived in the shadow cast by the power and prestige of its nearest neighbour. What is equally apparent, however, is that the Irish sporting world is unique only in parts; there is much of the story of Irish sport that is shared with that of other societies, near and far. This is partly a reflection of the universal instincts that draw humans to the idea of play, partly a reflection of the history of Ireland within what was once the British Empire, and partly, also, a reflection of an international cultural exchange where political and geographic borders are permeable.

Modern sport is often big business and it often, too, has a political function. The manner in which sport is continuously repackaged – not least by modern media – creates the illusion of constant change, and yet, the story of Irish sport is, at least in part, the story of people finding new ways of doing the same thing. Networks of modern life run through and around sporting clubs and sporting events. At the heart of...

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