With the Olympic morass getting underway over in Londinium at the moment I just thought I’d interrupt our usual broadcast to post something slightly off-topic (off-topic for this blog, anyway).
The Tailteann Games was an Irish sporting festival held in what is now Telltown in Co. Meath. The legend goes that they were founded in 632 BC by Lugh Lámhfhada in honour of his (foster) mother Tailtiú, after she died of exhaustion after clearing the land of Ireland for agriculture. This is what the Book of Invasions tells us, anyway. The games were probably held every year for one week, beginning on the 1st of August (Lughnasadh). The last one was held in 1169 AD - the year of the Norman invasion.
In 1924, 1928 and 1932 the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA or d’Gahh if yer from my part of the country) decided to revive the games and open them to all athletes of Irish birth or ancestry - there were various reasons for this, but all of them can be filed under the category of ‘Nation Building’. Ireland had only recently declared independence from Britain in 1919 and therefore had quite the inferiority complex to deal with (still does, in many ways, but let’s not open that can o worms). Think of it as the short-lived sporting equivalent of the Rose of Tralee. Lots of lovely bottoms.
Rather than give you an extensive history and analysis on the subject (you can find a good one here) I’ll just post a photo set nabbed from the National Library’s online catalogue. What attracted me to the photos were mostly the ceremonial parades of people dressed as early-20th century interpretations of Celtic warriors, complete with wolfhounds. It’s all very Berlin Olympics really, there’s even a winged helmet in there.