My name is Richard McElligott. I am a sports historian who lectures in Irish History in UCD. I’m also a native of Stacks Mountain, Kilflynn.
My first book has just been released and explores the establishment and development of the GAA and its unique tradition in our native Kerry during the tumultuous first fifty years of the Association in Ireland. It also explores the profound impact of the GAA on the political, social and cultural life of Ireland during its first fifty years between 1884 and 1934. It is entitled: Forging A Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry, 1884-1934 and is being published by the Collins Press. Its available in all good bookshops from this week and retails at €17.99. For more information please visit:
Forging a Kingdom explores the establishment and development of the GAA and its unique tradition in our native Kerry during the tumultuous first fifty years of the Association in Ireland. The book uses Kerry as a case study to explore the GAA’s profound impact on the political, social and cultural life of Ireland during its first fifty years between 1884 and 1934.
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 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 county’s GAA in events such as the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, and Civil War, and the effects of political violence on the Kerry 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 remained a political hotbed for Republicanism and how this continually manifested itself among the hierarchy of the GAA in the years up until 1934 and beyond.
I hope from the above brief synopsis you get a sense of how historically important and hopefully popular, this book has the potential to be. It is the first properly researched work on the development of the GAA at a county level. As such, I believe it is one of the most important works ever produced on the history of that great body and a template for all those who wish to write about the development of the GAA in their own counties. I also hope it will also be of great help to anyone who is thinking of writing or updating their own clubs history and seeing where it fits into the greater story of the Kerry GAA at this time.
Any sort of publicity or awarness you might be able to give the book within your club and community would be greatly appreciated.
I am also holding an event to launch the book on Thursday 14 November at 7pm in the Tralee Library. Weeshie Fogarty has kindly offered to launch the book that night. If any officials from your clubs would be interested in attending, please let me know.
You can contact me via this e-mail or on 087-9444054.
Is mise le meas,
Dr Richard McElligott,
Occasional Lecturer in Modern Irish History,
School of History and Archives,
University College Dublin.
My First Book: Forging A Kingdom, The GAA in Kerry 1884-1934 (Collins Press) is on sale now. Visit: