Gaelic Games, Irish Media, and the Impact of the Covid-19 Lockdown in Ireland 

New Study Examines the Irish media response to the Impact of Covid-19 on Gaelic Games in Ireland during the first lockdown. 

A new study examining the Irish media response to the impact of Covid-19 on Gaelic games during the first lockdown has been published by NUI Galway academic Dr. Seán Crosson and Dr. Marcus Free, lecturer with Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. 

The study, entitled ‘“This Too Shall Pass”: Gaelic Games, Irish Media, and the Covid-19 Lockdown in Ireland’, is included in a new collection, Time Out: National Perspectives on Sport and the Covid-19 Lockdown which examines the impact of Covid-19 on sport across a broad range of themes.

The collection is the first major academic engagement with the topic and includes contributions from practitioners and international scholars. It provides a comprehensive overview of the immediate consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown on local and national sport in a broad range of contexts.

Focusing on the period from 12 March, 2020, when the Irish government announced initial Covid-19 restrictions (followed shortly thereafter by the suspension of Gaelic games fixtures,) to 10 May (the broadcast date of the first 2020 episode of RTÉ’s “The Sunday Game”), Dr Crosson’s and Dr  Free’s contribution examines Covid-19’s impact through an analysis of the media discourses surrounding these sports.

As with other sports internationally, the gaps in sports media programming left by the absence of fixtures were filled with retrospective items focusing on classic moments and players from the past. Apart from retrospection, the authors identify two prominent themes that dominated Gaelic games coverage in this time period.

Firstly, there was a recurring focus on the serious impact on the GAA, its athletes, and national sports-media of the cancellation of its elite and local level events over its peak Spring-Summer season. However, a second major theme was the GAA’s key role in responding to the crisis and in articulating a discourse of overcoming, both in terms of the Association’s challenges and wider Irish society.

“As amateur sports that dominate the Irish sporting calendar each year, typically attracting the largest attendances and occupying a key role within communities, Gaelic games provide a unique focus in a collection such as this. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of sports’ organisations and sport media in facilitating and encouraging responses at local and national level to the challenges Covid-19 has brought. In the Irish context, the rhetoric of shared sacrifice and collective discipline that was evident during the early months of the Covid-19 crisis signifies the GAA’s unique role as an amateur organization touching every part of Irish society through its players’, administrators’, volunteers’, and supporters’, family and social connections."
Dr Seán Crosson, Huston School of Film and Digital Media and leader of the Sport and Exercise Research Group in the Moore Institute, NUI Galway

The collection was edited by Jörg Krieger, April Henning, Paul Dimeo, and Lindsay Parks Pieper, and published by leading international academic publisher Common Ground.

Further information on the collection and Dr. Crosson’s and Dr. Free’s chapter is available at the following link where copies of the book can also be purchased:

Dr Seán Crosson is leader of the Sport & Exercise Research Group, Co-Director of the MA in Sports Journalism and Communication, and Senior Lecturer in Film in the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway. His previous publications include Gaelic Games on Film: From silent films to Hollywood hurling, horror and the emergence of Irish cinema (Cork University Press, 2019), Sport and Film (Routledge, 2013) and the collections Sport, Film and National Culture (Routledge, 2021) and (as co-editor) Sport, Representation and Evolving Identities in Europe (Peter Lang, 2010).

Dr Marcus Free is a lecturer in media and communication studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and scholarly collections on the interrelationships between sport, national identity, gender and race in film, print and broadcast media. He is co-editor (with Neil O'Boyle) of Sport, the Media and Ireland: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2020), and guest editor of the current issue of the international journal Television and New Media on contemporary Irish television. 

Huston School of Film & Digital Media

Employing over 6,000 people nationwide, and generating an estimated €550 million annually, the creative industries are central to Ireland’s economic and cultural achievements on the global stage.
As a UNESCO City of Film, and the home of the Irish Film Board, Galway is situated at the heart of Ireland’s creative and cultural sector. Galway is also the forthcoming European Capital of Culture 2020 and Huston School of Film & Digital Media will be making key contributions to Galway’s celebration of events in that year.
Research and taught programmes at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media are built upon the strong links between the school and the wider creative community, offering students the unique opportunity to collaborate with top industry professionals in a world-renowned University environment.

Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies

The Moore Institute stands at the forefront of NUI Galway’s commitment to world-leading inquiry in humanities, culture, and society. Founded in 2000, and named after the distinguished Moore family of Moore Hall, Co. Mayo, the Institute has earned major national and international grants and led projects across the disciplines in areas from archaeology to ancient history and medieval studies, and from the early modern period to the present day, including politics, gender, and performance.