The Celtic Timesby Daniel McCarthy
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Historians, though uncertain about exact chronologies, generally testify to the both the antiquity and commonality of the ball and stick games of the Irish and the Scots. The above legend of the Queen Sgáthach and the origins of camán in Scotland, quoted by my good friend, Hugh Dan MacLennan, the Mícéal Ó Muircheartaigh of Scotland, captures through metaphor the common heritage of the Irish and Scottish national games. ‘The game of camanachd’, MacLennan continues, ‘is peculiar to the Celts of Scotland and Ireland - peculiar that is to say, to the old Scottish or Gaelic-speaking people’. Shinty - iomain or camanachd in Scottish Gaelig - was introduced along with Christianity and the Gaelic language to Scotland around 1500 years ago by Irish missionaries. It is noteworthy that Saint Colmcille is believed to have arrived in Scotland as a result of a little local difficulty at an Irish hurling match! Born in c.521 A.D. in Donegal, Colmcille is actually the first historical person to be referenced in connection with the ancient game.
It is good to learn of the recent news that one of the two original tricolors unfurled at the GPO buildings during the 1916 Easter Rising is now in the good hands of the folk at the American Irish Historical Society.
Some comment has been raised about such a historically precious artifact, so central to the narrative of Irish independence, belonging on Irish soil, but to raise such heckles is to be totally oblivious to the point that Irish America was also at the heart of this independence movement.
That the American Irish Historical Society, with its traditional warm welcome and its dedication to the motto of its founding patrons, “That the world may know” now hosts the flag is entirely appropriate. The Society’s mission since the time of Teddy Roosevelt’s involvement and before to Thomas Hamilton Murray in the 1880s has been to bring to light the history of the Irish people. The history of the Irish people, with all of its complexities and varying shades of green, has never been exclusive to mere national boundaries - a 70 million diaspora can bear witness to this.
Something that can be restored stronger than ever, through the global Irish village, our heritage, our sports. Pierre de Coubertin the father of the modern Olympic movement was so inspired by the Gaelic games he witnessed almost 120 years ago that he began the great new international sporting movement and it would be fitting that by 2016, the compliment can be returned.
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