Kerry Forum

New Book on the Early History of the Kerry GAA

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Hi everyone,

I'm just bringing to your attention the publication of my first book, which is a history of the early GAA between 1884 and 1934. My name is Richard McElligott and I am a sports historian working in the School of History in UCD and I'm also Chairman of the Sport History Ireland Society. I'm also a native of Kilflynn in north Kerry.

My book is the first examination of the establishment and development of the GAA on a county level. I look at my native Kerry to explore the GAA's profound impact on the political, social and culture history of Ireland during its first fifty years.
It is entitled: Forging A Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry, 1884-1934 and is being published by the Collins Press and its retailing at €17.99 in all good bookshops.
For more information please visit:

The book examines the reasons behind the formation of the GAA both nationally and locally in in county Kerry. It explores what sport in Ireland was like before the GAA arrived. It assesses the reasons for the GAA's initial popularity among Irish people both in terms of politics, culture and economics. It details the problems involved in the formation of the first clubs in Kerry, their adaption to the GAA's rules and the hard struggle in forming a County Board and trying to run and administer the GAA's organisation in such a large and physically challenging county. It looks at the problems surrounding early county championships and also national competitions. The book deals with clashes between the GAA and the Church and the attempts of Fenian and revolutionary movements to gain control and corrupt the GAA and its membership, both nationally, and in Kerry. It also looks in detail at the role of the GAA in the Gaelic Revival and the influence of Irish political nationalism on the Association at large. Likewise, links with cultural and revolutionary movements such as the Gaelic League, the IRB and Sinn Féin are all examined. The work also explores the emergence of Kerry's unique footballing tradition and examines why hurling fell by the wayside and never gained equal recognition. How the rise of Kerry as a footballing power was fundamental to the GAA itself becoming the most popular and widely supported sports body in Ireland is highlighted. Yet the book also looks at the increasingly desperate attempts to make hurling as much a part of the emerging Kerry tradition, a process which ultimately failed.

The book explores the GAA's relationship with other sports like rugby in Kerry and how the conflict between both sports there was actually the catalyst for Listowel man, Thomas F. O'Sullivan, to force through the infamous 'Foreign Games Ban' in 1905. The role of the GAA members nationally and locally in events such as the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, and Civil War, and the effects of political violence on the GAA are outlined. After the Civil War, the senior Kerry side emerged politically divided yet united, the symbol Irish society craved in its search for unity. The work explores this teams origins and its immense impact on the history of Gaelic football at the time. Yet their story is not as simple as it has previously been told and the book also details how Kerry and other counties remained a political hotbed for Republicanism and how this continually manifested itself among the hierarchy of the Kerry GAA in the years up until 1934 and beyond.

As such the work is not solely a local history of the Kerry GAA. Rather it is an examination of the entire history of the Association which takes Kerry as its case study. As such, I believe it has the potential to be one of the most important works ever produced on the history of our great Association and a template for all those who wish to write about the development of the GAA in their own counties.

I hope it will be of interest to you all.

TheHermit (Kerry) - Posts: 5927 - 09/10/2013 14:56:59    1498502


How are you Richard? This topic is of big interest to me and I can see this book being my Xmas present and I look forward to reading it.

KingdomBoy1 (Kerry) - Posts: 12165 - 09/10/2013 21:41:25    1498771