Gaelic games have repeatedly provided filmmakers and producers with a resonant motif through which they have represented ‘perceived’ aspects of Irish identity, ‘perceived’ as this representation has been neither straightforward nor unproblematic: in international productions in particular, Gaelic games have provided on occasion a short hand for regressive stereotypes associated with Irish people, including their alleged propensity for violence. For indigenous producers, on the other hand, Gaelic games afforded distinctive Irish cultural practices and as such were employed to promote and affirm the Irish nation, particularly as an indigenous film culture began to develop in the aftermath of World War II. As we enter the late twentieth century, a critical turn is evident within indigenous productions featuring Gaelic games though the dominant stereotypes of the past continue to appear. This study provides the first major monograph examination of filmic representations of Gaelic games, charting these representations from the earliest years of the twentieth century, including silent films such as Knocknagow (1918) to more recent productions Michael Collins (1996) and The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006). Among the areas examined are newsreel depictions of Gaelic games; Hollywood’s fascination with hurling in the mid-20th century (including in the work of Oscar-winning director John Ford), which led to a range of productions featuring the sport culminating with the Oscar-nominated short Three Kisses (Paramount, 1955); the importance of the depictions of Gaelic games to the emergence of a distinctive Irish film culture post WWII; and the role of Gaelic games in contemporary cinema.
This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Gaelic games on film, from its earliest, flickering appearances on fit-up screens to today’s high-definition screened spectacle in stadia, on domestic televisions and in public spaces. It’s a fascinating story written by a critically informed spectator who explains how film captures the localized love of GAA sport and its enduring significance to Irish national self-definition. The book shows the key role that film has played in shaping and defining GAA sports in ways that have not been addressed by the major texts in the existing literature - Professor Lance Pettitt is an Associate Lecturer in Film specializing in the cinema and cultural history of film in Ireland. ~Lance Pettitt
It achieves a good balance of original research married to an excellent synthesis of a diverse range of existing related research. As such, it achieves for me one of the fundamental requirements of good quality research involving issues to do with national culture: it informs the national experience by inserting it into a wider international debate while at the same time considerably enhancing that wider debate with a specific national study. Both benefit greatly from the resulting dialogue-Martin McLoone Emeritus Professor Media Studies Ulster University ~Martin McLoone