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Ireland and the Czech Lands

Contacts and Comparisons in History and Culture


Edited By Gerald Power and Ondrej Pilny

In recent years Irish scholars have become increasingly interested in Ireland’s profound and ongoing relationship with continental Europe. This volume is the first multidisciplinary collection of essays on Irish comparisons and contacts with the Czech Lands from the early modern period to contemporary times. Written by leading specialists and emerging scholars, the essays explore Irish-Czech exchanges and parallels in a variety of fields including history, politics, literature, theatre, journalism and physical education. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that Ireland and the Czech Lands have much in common and that they have enjoyed deep cultural connections: both countries are small European states with imperial pasts and a tradition of mutual migration and cultural transfer. Until now, however, Czech-Irish commonalities and connections have largely been overshadowed by both countries’ interactions with bigger, more powerful nations. This book remedies this neglect, offering new research which not only sheds light on Irish-Czech connections and contacts, but also offers new perspectives on the positions of both societies within the wider European context.


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Daniel Samek The Czech Sokol Gymnastic Programme in Ireland, c. 1900-1950


Daniel Samek The Czech Sokol Gymnastic Programme in Ireland, c. 1900–1950 The present essay is a result of an intriguing discovery made in the course of research for a study of Czech-Irish cultural and diplomatic relations in the twentieth century.1 It focuses on the most popular Czech gymnastic system devised by the patriotic organization Sokol (‘Falcon’) and the story of its introduction in Ireland. At its peak in the 1930s, Sokol was among the largest athletic associations in Europe, and arguably the world. It was founded as Prague Sokol (Sokol Pražský) in 1862 after the relaxation of the Austrian associations legislation, and was the first sports organization of the Czechs. The movement thrived. By 1918 when the Czechoslovak Republic was founded, it had 200,000 members, a figure which had risen to 1 million just after the end of the Second World War. Though it was directly inspired by several small German gymnastic organizations, Sokol declared itself from the very beginning to be a Czech national association, and surpassed the pre-existing German associations in the quantity of members as well as the quality of the programme. The founders of Sokol, Jindřich Fügner and Miroslav Tyrš, aimed at a synthesis of Ancient Greek gymnastic ideals and the romantic ideas of Slavism.2 The ideals of Sokol were symbolized by the uniform, which combined elements of standard 1 See Daniel Samek, Česko-irské kulturní styky v první polovině 20. století / Czech-Irish Cultural Relations, 1900–1950, trans. Ondřej Piln...

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