A new book about the first 50 years of Gaelic Athletic Association activity in County Kerry has come to my attention thanks to a review on the History Ireland website. “Forging a Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry 1884-1934” by Richard McElligott was published last fall by The Collins Press.
The book does a fine job of blending political, social and sporting events in Kerry in the context of the GAA’s role in the broader history of Ireland, according to the reviewer:
“No stone is left unturned in tracing the contours of this development, through the ups and downs of the Irish National League, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, agricultural productivity and the rural economy of Kerry, emigration, other sports, the Gaelic League, rail transport, the Irish Volunteers and the IRA, the wars of 1919–23, the internal structures of the GAA in the county and key administrative figures, as well as the role of Kerrymen in America and the evolution of the games themselves. Throughout the book, McElligott demonstrates clearly how interwoven was (and is) the GAA into the fabric of society. For this reason, “Forging the Kingdom” constitutes an invaluable text on the history of a county and the dynamics of rural nationalist Ireland, let alone on the sporting aspect.”
I don’t yet have my copy of the book. I used Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to peek at some of what McElligott (@RichardMcELL) has written about my own area of interest, the Land War period of the late 19th century. He writes:
“By the mid-1880s, the press described the county as ‘the most criminally disturbed, the most evicted, the most rack-rent county in all of Ireland.’ Land agitation had gripped the county with such force that for most of the decade, Kerry was at the forefront of agrarian disturbance and subsequent government coercion to eliminate it.”
Here’s a NewsTalk podcast with McElligott.