Tailteann Games (Irish Free State)
The Tailteann Games or Aonach Tailteann was an Irish sporting and cultural festival held in the Irish Free State in 1924, 1928, and 1932. It was intended as a modern revival of the Tailteann Games held from legendary times until the Norman invasion of Ireland; as such it drew inspiration from the Modern Olympics revival of the Ancient Olympics. Croke Park, the Dublin headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association, was the venue for the opening ceremony and many of the sports events, which were open to people of Irish birth or ancestry. The Tailteann Games were held shortly after the Summer Olympics, such that athletes participating in Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928 came to compete. Participants coming from England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, the USA, South Africa and Australia as well as Ireland. Chess competitions were held in conjunction with the Irish Chess Union as part of the Tailteann Games. There were also artistic competitions and industrial displays. The games became regarded as a Cumann na nGaedheal project, and when that party lost power to Fianna Fáil after the 1932 election there was no financial backing for further games.
This revival "meeting of the Irish race" was announced by Éamon de Valera in Dáil Éireann in 1921. The 1922 Irish Race Convention supported the plan for an "Irish Race Olympic". However, due to the Anglo-Irish War and Civil War it was not held until 1924. The meeting was launched to celebrate the independence of Ireland. The Hogan Stand was built and opened for the 1924 games.
A report to revive the games was debated in the Dáil in June 1922. Modern sports such as motorcycling and shooting were to be included, along with a parade of massed choirs. The possibility of out-doing the Olympic Games was mentioned: "We have got representations from America to the effect that it would be advisable to depart from the idea of confining the Tailteann games to the Irish race and seeing that they predated the Greek Olympic by a thousand years we should be justified in entering upon a more varied programme." The games were delayed by the Irish Civil War of 1922–23.
Commemorative medals were struck for all three games, in gold, silver, silver gilt, and bronze. They depict Tailtiu, the patron deity of the ancient Tailteann Games, with inscription "An Bhainrioghan Tailte" ("Queen Tailte").
The games opened with the "Tailteann choir" singing the "Tailteann ode", with words by Oliver St. John Gogarty and music by Louis O'Brien. The ode won Gogarty a bronze medal in the literature section of the 1924 Olympic art competition. The Irish flag was carried by Tom Kiely, winner of the 1904 Olympic all-around (decathlon) title.
The dissident Irish republican government which had lost the Civil War urged a boycott of the games "falsely described as Aonach Tailteann", because it rejected the legitimacy of the Free State government which sponsored the games. Rugby union was excluded from the program because the Irish Rugby Football Union was seen as "undemocratic and almost un-Irish".
Run in conjunction with the Irish Chess Union, there were three competitions, the overall competition was won by the reigning Irish Champion Philip Baker, the Major Competition was won by Lord Dunsany, with Aaron Sayers as runner-up. Dublin Chess Club provided its premises and equipment for use for the Competitions.
In hurling, teams from England, Wales, the United States, Scotland, and Ireland played.
The Camogie Association planned national and international camogie competitions, but withdrew after a dispute with the organisers, reflecting the anti-Free State bias of the association's leadership. An exhibition match was played without the association's sanction, while an association "Ireland" team played in London.
The Sailing events of 1924 were sailed in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) on Saturday in the second week of August.
|1||Yachts over 10 tons||'Mavourneen', Mr. F. St. J. Worrall.|
|2||25 ft & 21 ft||'Geraldine', Mr. W. McDowell.|
|3||Yachts up to 10 tons||'Klysma', Mr. C. O'Loughlin.|
|4||17 ft||'Echo', Mr. R. Hall.|
|5||Seapoint [Sailing Club] No. 2 & Clontarf [Yacht & Boat Club] class||'Falcon', Messrs. Hutchinson and Paine.|
|6||Shannon-One-Design||1 S47 Edgar H. Waller ; 2 S32 N. Lionel Lyster ; 3 S35 A.G. Waller ; 4 S36 R. White ; 5 S34 Walter Levinge ; 6 S45 Tom Feely ; 7 S43 Jocelyn H. de W. Waller|
|7||Water Wags||'Coquette', Mr. G.H. Jones.|
The Motor Boat event of 1924 took place in Dublin Bay.
W. B. Yeats persuaded the Royal Irish Academy to award prizes. The gold medal went to Stephen MacKenna for his translation of Plotinus; other winners were Oliver Gogarty, Francis Stuart, and James Stephens. A banquet presided over by T. M. Healy, the Governor-General of the Irish Free State, had an "oddly assorted" group of guests invited by Yeats, including Augustus John, Sir Edwin Lutyens, writers Compton Mackenzie, G. K. Chesterton, Lennox Robinson, and Carlos Magalhães de Azeredo; cricketers Ranjitsinhji and C. B. Fry; and diplomats Willem Hubert Nolens and Erik Palmstierna. Chesterton accepted the medal on his behalf of the absent MacKenna, who later refused it.
An art and craft exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy displayed 1,597 works, more than half entered for competition in 32 categories. The overall "Tailteann Trophy" went to Seán Keating's Homage to Hugh Lane. Other gold medallists included Margaret Clarke, Francis Doyle Jones, Letitia Hamilton, Power O'Malley, and Patrick Tuohy.
At the Theatre Royal two recent operas by Irish composers were performed: Geoffrey Molyneux Palmer's Sruth na Maoile (1922) and Harold White's Seán the Post (1924), along with Shamus O'Brien (1896) by Charles V. Stanford. The last was not successful: "there seemed to be a greater number of people in the orchestra than in the audience".
The 1928 Games was won by John O'Hanlon a multiple Irish Champion.
The Motor Boat event of 1928 took place at Ballyglass, Co. Westmeath, home of the Lough Ree Yacht Club, and Motor Yacht Club of Ireland, on 16 August. Races took place in various classes:
- Race 1. Free for all sweepstakes. 1st. 'Fiend' J.W. Shillan. 2nd. 'Irish Express' Major H. Waller. 3rd. 'Miss Chief' J. C. Healy.
- Race 2. Handicap for boats with outboard engines not exceeding 350cc. Boat min. weight 120 lbs. 1st. 'Miss Chief' J.C. Healy. 2nd. 'Busy Bee' Lt. Col. Mansfield. 3rd. 'Imp' D. Tidmarsh.
- Race 3. Handicap for boats with inboard engines exceeding 20'-0". 1st. 'Shrike' Lt. Col. Mansfield. 2nd.'La Vague' Dr. V. S. Delany. 3rd. 'Janet' J. C. Healy.
- Race 4. Handicap for boats with outboard engines of unlimited cc. Boat min. weight 140 lbs. 1st. 'Baby Costume' L. Hogan. 2nd.'Fiend' J. W. Shillan. 3rd. 'Busy Bee' Lt. Col. Mansfield.
- Race 5. Free for all scratch race. Outboard engines. 1st. 'Fiend' J. W. Shillan. 2nd. 'Miss Chief' J. C. Healy. 3rd. 'Busy Bee' Lt. Col. Mansfield.
- Race 6. Handicap race for boats with inboard engines, length not exceeding 20 ft. 1st. 'Udra' Dr. V.S. Delany. 2nd. 'Mermaid' Mr. J. Ryan.
With the 1932 Summer Olympics begin held in Los Angeles, the Tailteann Games was originally scheduled for 1931 to avoid a clash, but postponed to 1932, which meant Olympic athletes from Ireland or abroad could not be present. The Games' main backer, minister J. J. Walsh, lost office when Fianna Fáil took power after the 1932 election, and public funding was cut. Against a background of the Great Depression and the Anglo-Irish Trade War, the Games cut from two weeks to one; they made a £12 profit.
The third games was won again by John O'Hanlon who was also Irish Champion in 1932.
The sailing events were hosted by the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire in July 1932.
In 1937 Éamon de Valera organised an inter-departmental committee into the feasibility of staging another games, which reported in June that it would be possible to stage one in 1939. De Valera used the split in Irish athletics governance as an excuse to defer consideration, to the chagrin of J. J. Walsh. The onset of the Second World War deferred any progress and nothing further happened after the war.
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