This paper has emerged from a larger study examining the representation of the indigenous Irish sports, Gaelic games, in film and visual culture. Whether in films made outside Ireland or within, Gaelic games have repeatedly provided a resonant motif through which (perceived) aspects of Irish identity have been encapsulated and represented. This process extends to the contemporary context wherein Ireland has experienced huge changes, economically and socially, over the past twenty years. While Gaelic games are less a prominent feature of contemporary fiction film (with notable exceptions), the cinematic has now been incorporated and integrated into major sporting occasions themselves, including the Laochra pageant, one of the largest and most viewed commemorative events held in Ireland in 2016.
Laochra was organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (the organisation responsible for the promotion of the indigenous Irish sports, Gaelic games), and broadcast live by the Irish medium broadcaster TG4 on Sunday April 24th, exactly one hundred years to the day after the first shots were fired in the Easter Rising, a key revolutionary event in defining modern Ireland. The GAA was a key force in defining Irish identity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and it was one of the most active organisations in 2016 in evoking that period and commemorating events surrounding the Rising. I have included a question mark, however, in the title of this paper – taken from the title of the penultimate scene in the Laochra pageant – as I want to raise questions in this paper as to the new Ireland that is being configured through commemorative events such as Laochra, both in terms of how ‘new’ these configurations actually are (given their indebtedness to older Irish iconography) and the problematic manner in which Irishness is being configured, particularly in terms of gender and militarism.