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Chapter Summary

The study of sport amongst the Irish abroad is a relatively recent phenomenon. Its neglect to date is surprising given the central role sport plays in the lives of the Irish Diaspora and the broad agendas it serves. What little work has been undertaken has centred on Irish emigrants in North America, despite the fact that mainland Europe has proved to be the destination of choice for many Irish men and women in recent times. Aside from their qualifications and skills, some of these individuals have brought long standing cultural interests and pastimes with them on their travels. Foremost amongst these have been the indigenously Irish games organised and promoted by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Despite the popularity of Gaelic sports in Europe, historically they have been organised on an informal basis. Indeed it was only recently that they came under the control of a formal governing body, Coiste Chonate na hEorpa (European County Board). The games attract a cross section of followers but the administration and management of GAA activities remains the preserve of young, well educated Irish professionals, the embodiment of the so-called ‘Ryanair generation’ of the late 1980s. The dominant ethos underpinning Gaelic games on mainland Europe is inclusiveness and is defined by a policy of equal opportunities for all. That said, one of the most noteworthy aspects of the GAA scene in Europe is the way its presence allows opportunities for indigenous sub-groups to further underline their separation from established states.



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