In the next couple of weeks lots of people will be watching as teams from all over the world compete for Olympic gold in the quintessentially Canadian sport of ice hockey. There won’t be an Irish team playing, as the sport is nearly unknown there, but there will be an Irish connection.
Left: An Irish stamp from 1984.
That connection lies in the origins of the game in the quintessentially Irish sport of hurling. In the early days of its existence the game was actually known as “ice hurly.” It’s not much of a stretch to evolve the name “hockey” from “hurly.”
Hockey is known to be a somewhat violent sport, with frequent fist fights. Though it might be another indication of the origins of sport, these hockey fights would be tame compared to the battles in ancient hurly, which often ended with blood on the field.
If any of the teams in the tournament has a player as adept at hockey as the legendary hero Cuchulainn (known as Setanta in his younger years) was at hurling, they will surely win.
Setanta journeys to his uncle's court to join the boy's corps. He shortened his walk by hurling his silver sliotar (ball) and then throwing his bronze hurley stick after it. He would run and catch both the sliotar and the hurley stick before they hit the ground. Soon he arrived at court, and his hurling abilities amazed the boys of the corps. Legend has it that he was able to score with ease and when he guarded the goal he never let a shot in.
Irish influence on hockey runs deep
Quotes Prove Ice Hockey's Origin
I beg your pardon: Some British MPs are demanding that their government release the details of an Irish government report that was submitted requesting that the 26 Irish soldiers executed by the British army during WWI be pardoned. The British government has said it will be responding to the Irish request soon, but has given no definite date. The army executed 306 soldiers in total during the war. Most had rudimentary trials at best.
According to the “Shot At Dawn” website: “Over three-hundred innocent British and Commonwealth soldiers were brutally gunned down by the authorities, not in the name of justice, but as a stupid, spiteful and shameful example to others. Most were clearly suffering from shell-shock. This website exposes the farce of so-called military justice. “
In reading the circumstances of some of those who were killed, I realized that the British officers who shot the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising without a semblance of a trial were merely applying the same injustice in Dublin as they had been applying in the fields of France. Given the reaction of the Irish population to the injustice done to those men, one wonders what the reaction would have been if they had ever learned the truth of the circumstances behind the shooting of 26 of their country by the British army in France.
British MPs want report released
Shot at dawn amnesty campaign
Read “Shot at Dawn” by Julian Putkowski
Who were the Molly Maguires: If you are in the eastern PA area you can find out this Sunday, Feb 19. The Irish Cultural Society of Scranton, PA is hosting a lecture in their Society Building on the corner of Beech St and Wintermantle Ave in Scranton, PA. The lecture will begin at 2:00PM and run until approximately 6:00PM. Lecturers will be Jerry Furey, an educator from New York and the Venus Theatre Co. from Maryland, who will present a program called "Are you a Daughter of a Molly Maguire?". Light refreshments will be served with a free will donation being accepted at the door. For more information, please contact Rosie at 570-815-4355 or by e-mail at http://mailto:email@example.com/ .
Read Making Sense of the Molly Maguires by Kevin Kenny
Buy “The Molly Maguires” DVD, starring Sean Connery.
A little help from our friends: Those friends being the French (and Irish). Back on February 13, 1782 Dillon's regiment of the Irish Brigade of France helped capture St. Kitts from the British
More on this week in the history of the Irish.