Cricket no indicator of political sentiment or denominational affiliation
IN REVIEWING John Redmond - the Parnellite Ruairi O Domhnaill refer's to Redmond's being "a first rate bowler and a fine batsman" as if this was evidence of national apostasy.
It was no such thing. Redmond was born in 1856, some twentyeight years before the foundation of the GAA by Michael Cusack, himself an admirer of cricket.
Like Thomas Francis Meagher before him, Redmond was educated by the Jesuits at Clongowes. In Redmond's time cricket was played, as it was in Belvedere where the young Charles Burgess, and older Cathal Brugha was a fine cricketer. Cricket was played in the Holy Ghost Fathers' Schools such as Blackrock and Rockwell for some decades into the 20th century.
Police intelligence once described Dublin Cricket Clubs as hotbeds of Fenianism. The hegemony of hurling in Kilkenny was not established before the first world war and cricket was almost universal. Cricket was also very popular in County Tipperary. Its playing was no indicator of political sentiment or denominational affiliation.
A friend of mine whose late father had encouraged his sons to play every game going was surprised to find, on a visit to Kilkenny, cricket programmes where his father and uncles featured in about 1910. A book on Kilkenny cricket has recently shown its popularity in the Edwardian era.
I can remember myself a fairly good cricketer who had a father and an uncle in prominent roles in the IRA in the 1920s and 1930s.
Donal Kennedy, London
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