Sport in Ireland, 1600–1840
This is the first book to examine all the main sports played in Ireland over a period of nearly two-hundred-and-fifty years, from the beginning of the 17th century to the onset of the Famine. In this era, medieval sports (such as archery and falconry) gave way to new recreations, or were restructured (hunting) in a way that met modern needs. It also witnessed the emergence of new sports – including horse racing – the continued popularity of fighting sports (boxing and wrestling) and the pursuit of a variety of blood sports (cockfighting and bull baiting), controversial in their own day, which are now thoroughly discredited. Team sports were less dominant than they are now, but hurling, football and commons (a type of shinty) were played, and they are an important part of the story, as are a variety of minority sports including bowling, cricket, tennis and handball. This book will be of compelling interest to historians of sport, sportspeople, social historians and all those with an interest in sport and the emergence of civil society.
James Kelly is Cregan professor of history at St Patrick’s College, Dublin City University.