How did the Irish Americans become Irish?
At the turn of the twentieth century, immigrants from Ireland were deeply divided along county lines. To overcome this fragmentation and foster a sense of Irish pride, Irish American sport enthusiasts tried to organize competition between hurling and Gaelic football teams representing the different counties of old Ireland. The friendly rivalry and excitement that characterize sporting competitions, they believed, would steer a sense of national unity, over and above county level rivalries. Constructing this friendly rivalry, however, proved difficult. Games were repeatedly interrupted and sometimes deteriorated into violent brawls thereby reinforcing the stereotype of the Irish as drunken and violent rather than to foster national attachments. Attempts to establish an accepted governing body and regulate games through a league system repeatedly failed. Only in 1914 did a governing body manage to develop a league system that answered the demands of the different county teams. The regulation of the games played a role in turning the Irish Americans into Irish.