sport, media, 1916, 2016, Gaelic games
Commemoration is part of what defines nations and their configurations; the considerable investment of the Irish state (and various sporting organisations) during 2016 in 1916 commemorations speaks to the importance of commemoration in both defining and affirming the state itself and the role these organisations play in it. However, this process is neither straightforward nor uncomplicated; it is rife with contradictions, unresolved tensions and paradoxes. Commemoration involves a constant process of writing and rewriting, an ongoing renegotiation of the past in response to contemporary developments and future aspirations in a process that is intrinsically political. This paper considers the mediatisation of one of the largest and most viewed sporting commemorative events in 2016, the Laochra pageant organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), 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. Susan Hayward in her study of French cinema (1993) identified how film may function ‘as a cultural articulation of a nation … [it] textualises the nation and subsequently constructs a series of relations around the concepts, first, of state and citizen, then of state, citizen and other’ (x). It is this process through which Irishness is ‘textualised’ through the performance and mediatisation of Laochra that is the key concern of this paper. While Laochra may have been primarily a televisual experience, I will argue that the cinematic has now been incorporated and integrated into major sporting events themselves.