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Lecture Series at Clare Museum – County Clare Connections in the Army Athletic Association in the 1920s and 1930s

8 April 2024

The Winter Lecture Series continues at Clare Museum on Wednesday, 17th April, at 7:30pm, with a talk by Geraldine Burke entitled ‘County Clare Connections in the Army Athletic Association in the 1920s and 1930s’.

County Clare Connections in the Army Athletic Association in the 1920s and 1930s

Geraldine’s talk will explore the narrative around the conflict of interest that existed from the outset between the overall objective of the developing national army, in its vision to become an army of international standards representing the new Irish State, and the objective of the GAA that army officers and men be subject to the GAA ban on foreign sport.

Using extracts from meetings recorded in the army newspaper, An t-Óglach, and other sources, Geraldine will provide some insight into the opinions expressed by various stakeholders that remained relevant for 20 years, until 1943 when Minister for Defence, Oscar Traynor, reconstituted the Army Athletic Association with an executive committee composed exclusively of army members.

Michael Brennan and Tom McGrath from east Clare, who played pivotal roles in the Irish War of Independence, were also founding members of the Army Athletic Association formed in March 1923.  Senior officers from around the country attended the inaugural meeting, along with representatives of the Central Council of the GAA and the NACAI (the recently formed National Athletic and Cycling Association of Ireland). Geraldine will discuss contributions made by Army Chief of Staff Michael Brennan and Major Tom McGrath in proactively forging links and opportunities for competition between army athletes and athletes in Brennan and McGrath’s native County Clare.

Geraldine Burke has a research interest in the impact of revolutionary politics on Irish sport. She has recently published Sport in the Irish Free State Army 1922 to 1932 on this aspect. She wrote ‘Cross Country Corner’ in the Clare County Express newspaper for four years and has contributed articles to various publications, including The Clare Association Yearbook and Tradraí GAA magazine and was recently interviewed by Dermot Hayes for Raidió Chorca Bhaiscinn. A native of Newmarket on Fergus, she has a family interest in athletics as her late father competed from the mid-1930s to 1950. She is a graduate of the University of London and Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.

The talk begins at 7:30pm and admission is free of charge. While entry is free, there is likely to be a high level of interest in the talk, so those attending are asked to book a seat in advance by emailing Telephone bookings will not be accepted.

Page last reviewed: 08/04/24

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