August 23rd, 1924
FROM THE ARCHIVES:The Tailteann Games were established after the foundation of the State as an Olympic Games for the “Irish race”, including everything from athletics to chess. The organisers congratulated themselves at a meeting shortly after the first games. - JOE JOYCE
THEIR DIRECTOR (Mr J. J. Walsh), in opening the proceedings, said they had just emerged from a period when the nation was put to the test of making or marring an important phase of its historic life.
The prestige of a people – scarce yet emerged from the aftermath of war and turmoil and harassed by those human abnormalities thrown up in abnormal times – had been placed in the melting pot, but thank God, they had got through with as great a measure of success as even the most optimistic of them had hoped for.
[T]he whole conduct of the programme, the extent of which . . . had in all probability never been attempted by any other nation, was one succession of possibly the most perfect pieces of organisation hitherto seen.
Not an item of the vast undertaking had failed to materialise, and not a hitch occurred to console even their strongest opponents . . . Aonach Tailteann had lived for centuries only as a memory of Erin’s ancient civilisation. Writers had written of it, poets had sung of it, and dreamers had dreamt of it, but we have realised it.
There were two ways by which these games could have been revived: one was the mediocre national, and the other the big, broad international. Experience had shown that the latter was the correct line of pursuit.
Here, in this capital of ours, he said, we have staged a picture of international actors, only second to the great Olympic, and the story conveyed by that picture to the outside world would do more to uplift the Irish people in the eyes of foreign people than anything that has occurred in modern times.
It has told the world that this is not a country thrown up by some chance eruption in recent times, but that its history goes back into the dim ages, and has emerged again as a live factor in the universe; that its inhabitants are not only kind and hospitable and its scenery beautiful, but that it possesses people with business capabilities at least as great of those of other lands.
To our own people at home, too, it has taught more than one lesson of value, and the different committees and councils of the Games have had, perhaps, for the first time in recent generations, a wholehearted co-operation on the part of people who formerly differed on the contentious grounds of religion and politics.
It has, therefore, demonstrated the fact that once the Irish people learn to relegate contentions of this kind to their proper place, and work for their motherland, nothing can prevent them from gaining their goal. Seldom have we witnessed so rigid a discipline in the pursuance of an object, and nobody would dispute the fact that the more of this quality is introduced into our Irish life the better: in the past it has been sadly missing.