Katie Liston
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The GAA and the sporting Irish
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Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has provided a platform for the preservation and articulation of ethnic Irishness within and beyond the island. This chapter considers the uniqueness of Gaelic games set against the broad outline of patterns of participation in sport across the world more generally. It focuses on the distinctive commitment to an amateur ethos as reflected in the importance of community, or what Hilary Tovey and Perry Share have termed the 'urge to community'. The chapter argues that the GAA is the dominant marker of Irish cultural identity. The GAA was founded in 1884 with the objective of promoting interest in Irish sporting and athletic pastimes. Irish participation in sport might be distinctive in terms of the literal and figurative distinctiveness of Gaelic games. But, as a nation, Ireland is located more or less within the typical European parameters of participation in sport and physical activity.

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