Thursday, August 9, 2012

Church and Gaelic Games: A Hypothesis

I was thinking about the relationship between rural Ireland's faith in God/Catholic Church and rural Ireland's faith in Cumann Lúthchleas Gael. The church and the club are intertwined at several levels in the recent history of  Irish society, but I wonder how natural the marriage was between the two? I have heard various reasons for the decline in Irish religiosity in recent years. As much as I appreciate football and hurling and the people who love and play it (a small portion of whom are related to me), I'm tentatively going to put the Church/G.A.A. relations (coupled with the move of young people from countryside to city) on the stand for questioning.

My hyopthesis is: Anything that takes up as much time, intellect, emotion, work, and conversation as the G.A.A. has is bound to take its toll on the amount time, intellect, emotion, work, and conversation one has for God and his work. This isn't to portray God and hurling as inherently inimical. But it is to question the way things -- both in the church and in the club -- have been practised. D'Unbelievables capture this practice brilliantly in the following skit:

The decline, I suppose, comes when young people leave their parish and enter college life or work life in the city, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and love (or resentment!) for hurling or football but not much of either for their Catholicism. The parents' passion for Irish sport is faithfully handed down, but not their devotion to the parish church.

Is this another example of secularisation? The statistics might say so, but I'm not convinced. Yet truth be told, I don't know what I'm talking about. But I know there are readers who do (know what they're talking about), so if you could tell me why I'm way off the mark or point me to any relevant resources that'd be appreciated.

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