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Sport and Empire: The curious case of 'Ireland' and the 1930 British Empire Games

Liston, Katie/K and maguire, joseph (2015) Sport and Empire: The curious case of 'Ireland' and the 1930 British Empire Games. In: European Association for Sociology of Sport Conference. Not applicable. [Conference contribution]

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Abstract

This paper examines an apparent paradox in the history of British and Irish sport, thatis, the participation of ‘Irish’ athletes in the British Empire Games (BEG) of the 1930s.Crucially, issues of national and cultural identity were interwoven with questionsconcerning the organisation of sport on a pan-Ireland basis and the allegiance of teamsin international competition. The Irish Free State (IFS) had been established in 1922,though six counties of Ireland had remained part of the United Kingdom (UK). Thisterritory was to become known as Northern Ireland. In the following period,culminating in the establishment of the Irish / Eire Constitution (1937), severalamendments were made to IFS laws that removed reference to an oath of allegiance tothe British crown and severed links to UK jurisdiction, but crucially maintained that "thewhole island of Ireland its islands and the territorial seas" formed a single "nationalterritory". Despite this context, and the related tension that emerged around 'Irish'involvement in the Olympic Games at that time, ‘Ireland’ participated both in theinaugural BEG in 1930 and also in 1934, but by 1938 only Northern Ireland wasinvolved. Significantly, the BEG were replete with the pageantry of the Empire and withathletes swearing allegiance to the crown. Participation in the BEG highlights the role ofsport in constructing different ideas of what it means to be Irish during a period whichwas characterized by palpable resistance to participation in English or British sportsteams and political separation. It also reflects much of the politics of the then waningEmpire

Item Type:Conference contribution (Paper)
Keywords:Sport, Empire, Commonwealth, Games, national identity, Ireland
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Sport
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute > Centre for Sport in Society
Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute
ID Code:32160
Deposited By: Dr Katie Liston
Deposited On:11 Aug 2015 08:01
Last Modified:11 Aug 2015 08:01

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