Ireland at the Olympics

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Ireland at the Olympic Games

Flag of Ireland
IOC code  IRL
NOC Olympic Council of Ireland
Website www.olympicsport.ie
Olympic history
Summer Games
Winter Games
Other related appearances
Great Britain (1896–1920)

A team representing Ireland has competed at the Summer Olympic Games since 1924, and at the Winter Olympic Games since 1992. The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) was formed in 1922[1] during the provisional administration prior to the formal establishment of the Irish Free State. The OCI affiliated to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in time for the Paris games.[1]

Medal tables by Games[edit]

*Red border color indicates tournament was held on home soil.

Medals by summer sport[edit]

Sport Gold Silver Bronze Total
Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics 4 2 0 6
Swimming pictogram.svg Swimming 3 0 1 4
Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing 2 5 9 16
Sailing pictogram.svg Sailing 0 1 0 1
Equestrian pictogram.svg Equestrian 0 0 1 1
Total 9 8 11 28

Before independence[edit]

Prior to 1922, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Competitors at earlier Games born and living in Ireland are thus counted as British in Olympic statistics. At early Olympics, Irish-born athletes won numerous medals for the United States, notably the "Irish Whales" in throwing events.

The Irish Amateur Athletic Association was invited to the inaugural International Olympic Committee meeting in 1894, and may have been invited to the 1896 games; it has also been claimed the Gaelic Athletic Association was invited.[2] In the event, neither participated.[2] Prior to the 1906 Intercalated Games, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) were generally non-existent and athletes could enter the Olympics individually. John Pius Boland, who came first in two tennis events in 1896, is now listed as "IRL/GBR".[1][3] Boland's daughter later claimed that he said he had objected when the Union Jack was raised to mark his triumph, and that the organisers apologised for not having an Irish flag.[4] MacCarthy is sceptical of this story, though by 1906 Boland was creditiing his medals to "Ireland".[4] Tom Kiely, who won the "all-around" athletics competition at the 1904 Olympics in St Louis is listed as "Great Britain".[5] Kiely had refused offers by both the English Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) and the New York Athletic Club to pay his fare to compete for them, and had instead raised funds in counties Tipperary and Waterford to travel independently and compete for Ireland.[6]

The British Olympic Association (BOA) was formed in 1905, and Irish athletes were accredited to the BOA team from the 1906 Games. That year, Peter O'Connor and Con Leahy objected when the British flag was raised at their victory ceremony, and raised a green Irish flag in defiance of the organisers.[1][7]

At the 1908 Games in London, there were multiple British entries in several team events, including two representing Ireland. In the hockey tournament, the Irish team finished second, behind England and ahead of Scotland and Wales. The Irish polo team finished joint second in the three-team tournament, despite losing to one of two English teams its only match.

At the 1912 Olympics, and despite objections from other countries, the BOA entered three teams in the cycling events, one from each of the separate English, Scottish and Irish governing bodies for the sport.[8] The Irish team came 11th in the team time trial.[8] The organisers had proposed a similar division in the football tournament, but the BOA demurred.[9]

After the First World War, John J. Keane attempted to unite various sports associations under an Irish Olympic Committee.[10] Many sports had rival bodies, one Unionist and affiliated to a United Kingdom parent, the other Republican and opposed to any link with Great Britain.[citation needed] Keane proposed that a separate Irish delegation, marching under the Union Flag, should participate at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp.[10] At the time the Irish War of Independence was under way, and the IOC rejected Keane's proposal pending the settlement of the underlying political situation.[10]

Political issues[edit]

The OCI has always used the name "Ireland", and has claimed to represent the entire island of Ireland, even though Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom.[11] These points have been contentious, particularly from the 1930s to the 1950s in athletics, and until the 1970s in cycling.[6]

Northern Ireland[edit]

Proposed Olympic flag for Ireland

The governing bodies in Ireland of many sports had been established prior to the 1922 partition, and most have remained as single all-island bodies since then. Recognition of the Irish border was politically contentious and unpopular with Irish nationalists. The National Athletic and Cycling Association (Ireland), or NACA(I), was formed in 1922 by the merger of rival all-island associations, and affiliated to both the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) and Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).[6] When Northern Ireland athletes were selected for the 1928 games, the possibility was raised of using an "all-Ireland banner" as the team flag, rather than the Irish tricolour which unionists disavowed.[12] J. J. Keane stated that it was too late to change the flag registered with the IOC, but was hopeful that the coat of arms of Ireland would be adopted afterwards.[13]

In 1925, some Northern Ireland athletics clubs left NACA and in 1930 formed the Northern Ireland AAA, which later formed the British Athletic Federation (BAF) with the English and Scottish AAAs.[6] The BAF then replaced the (English) AAA as Britain's member of the IAAF, and moved that all members should be delimited by political boundaries.[6] This was not agreed in time for the 1932 Summer Olympics —at which two NACA(I) athletes won gold medals for Ireland— but was agreed at the IAAF's 1934 congress.[6] The NACA(I) refused to comply and was suspended in 1935, thus missing the 1936 Berlin Olympics.[6] The OCI decided to boycott the Games completely in protest.[6][14]

The UCI likewise suspended the NACA(I) for refusing to recognise the border. The athletics and cycling wings of the NACA(I) split into two all-island bodies, and separate Free-State bodies split from each and secured affiliation to the IAAF and UCI. These splits were not fully resolved until the 1990s. The "partitionist" Amateur Athletic Union of Éire (AAUE) affiliated to the IAAF, but the all-Ireland NACA(I) remained affiliated to the OCI. The IOC allowed AAUÉ athletes to compete for Ireland at the 1948 Olympics, but the rest of the OCI delegation shunned them.[6] At that games, two swimmers from Northern Ireland were prevented from competing in the OCI team. This was a FINA ruling rather than an IOC rule; Danny Taylor from Belfast was allowed by FISA to compete in the rowing.[6] The entire swimming squad withdrew,[15] but the rest of the team competed.[16]

Some athletes born in what had become the Republic continued to compete for the British team.[6] In 1952, new IOC President Avery Brundage and new OCI delegate Lord Killanin agreed that people from Northern Ireland would in future be allowed to compete in any sport on the OCI team.[6][17] In Irish nationality law, birth in Northern Ireland grants an entitlement similar to birth within the Republic itself. In 1956, Killanin stated that both the OCI and the BOA "quite rightly" judged eligibility based on citizenship laws.[18] Northern Ireland athletes retain the right to compete for Britain.[17] There is in fact no special arrangement concerning participation by Northern Ireland residents in the Irish Olympic events. Their position is governed by what passport or nationality they carry, just as the eligibility of persons from any other place would be decided. This was explained by an IOC Executive Member, Dermot Sherlock, to a Dáil Committee as follows:[19]

If someone is entitled to an Irish passport and is in possession of that passport, he or she can qualify to compete for Ireland as long as he or she has not competed for some other country in a previous Olympic Games. If he or she had competed for another country previously, we might allow him or her to compete for Ireland...The Irish passport is used as the measurement.

UCI and IAAF affiliated bodies were subsequently affiliated to the OCI, thus regularising the position of Irish competitors in those sports at the Olympics. Members of the all-Ireland National Cycling Association (NCA) with Irish Republican sympathies twice interfered with the Olympic road race in protest against the UCI-affiliated Irish Cycling Federation (ICF). In 1956, three members caused a 13-minute delay at the start.[20] Seven were arrested in 1972; three had delayed the start[21] and the other four joined mid-race to ambush ICF competitor Noel Taggart, causing a minor pileup.[22] This happened days after the murders of Israeli athletes and at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland; the negative publicity helped precipitate an end to the NCA–ICF feud.[23]

The (men's) Irish Hockey Union (IHU; since 2000 part of the Irish Hockey Association or IHA) joined the OCI in 1949,[24] and the Ireland team in non-Olympic competitions is selected on an all-island basis.[25] Until 1992 the IHU was not invited to the Olympic hockey tournament,[25] while Northern Irish hockey players like Stephen Martin played on the British Olympic men's team.[25] In 1992, invitation was replaced by an Olympic qualifying tournament, which the IHU/IHA has entered, despite some opposition from Northern Irish members.[25] Northern Irish players can play for Ireland or Britain, and can switch affiliation subject to International Hockey Federation clearance.[26] The Irish Ladies' Hockey Union (since 2000 also part of the IHA) has entered the Olympics since 1984, and in 1980 suspended Northern Irish players who elected to play for the British women's team.[25]

Through to the 1960s, Ireland was represented in showjumping only by members of the Irish Army equitation school, as the all-island civilian equestrian governing body was unwilling to compete under the Republic's flag and anthem.[27]

In 2004, the OCI objected when the British Olympic Association changed its style from "Great Britain" to "Great Britain and Northern Ireland" in the runup to the Athens games. This was reported to have embarrassed the (ultimately successful) London bid to stage the 2012 Games.[17]

Name of the country[edit]

The OCI sees itself as representing the island rather than the state, and hence uses the name "Ireland".[6] It changed its own name from "Irish Olympic Council" to "Olympic Council of Ireland" in 1952 to reinforce this point.[6] At the time, Lord Killanin had become OCI President and delegate to the IOC, and was trying to reverse the IOC's policy of referring to the OCI's team by using an appellation of the state rather than the island. While the name "Ireland" had been unproblematic at the 1924 and 1928 Games, after 1930, the OCI sometimes used "Irish Free State". IOC President Henri de Baillet-Latour supported the principle of delimitation by political borders.[6] At the 1932 Games, Eoin O'Duffy persuaded the Organisers to switch from "Irish Free State" to "Ireland" shortly before the Opening Ceremony.[6] After the 1937 Constitution took effect, the IOC switched to "Eire"; this conformed to British practice, although within the state so designated the use of "Eire" soon became deprecated. At the opening ceremony of the 1948 Summer Olympics, teams marched in alphabetical order of their country's name in English; the OCI team was told to move from the I's to the E's.[6] After the Republic of Ireland Act came into effect in 1949, British policy was to use "Republic of Ireland" rather than "Eire". In 1951, the IOC made the same switch at its Vienna conference, after IOC member Lord Burghley had consulted the British Foreign Office.[28] An OCI request to change this to "Ireland" was rejected in 1952.[29] The name "Ireland" was accepted just before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.[6][18] The OCI had argued that this was the name in the state's own Constitution, and that all the OCI's affiliated sports except the Football Association of Ireland were all-island bodies.[18]

Medal tables[edit]

The following tables include medals won by athletes on OCI teams. All medals have been won at Summer Games. Ireland's best result at the Winter Games has been fourth, by Clifton Wrottesley in the Men's Skeleton at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Some athletes have won medals representing other countries, which are not included on these tables.[30]

Medallists (28)[edit]

Medal Name Games Sport Event
 Gold O'Callaghan, PatPat O'Callaghan Netherlands 1928 Amsterdam Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics Men's hammer throw
 Gold Tisdall, BobBob Tisdall United States 1932 Los Angeles Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics Men's 400 metre hurdles
 Gold O'Callaghan, PatPat O'Callaghan United States 1932 Los Angeles Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics Men's hammer throw
 Silver McNally, JohnJohn McNally Finland 1952 Helsinki Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's bantamweight
 Gold Delany, RonnieRonnie Delany Australia 1956 Melbourne Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics Men's 1500 metres
 Silver Tiedt, FredFred Tiedt Australia 1956 Melbourne Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's welterweight
 Bronze Caldwell, JohnJohn Caldwell Australia 1956 Melbourne Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's flyweight
 Bronze Gilroy, FreddieFreddie Gilroy Australia 1956 Melbourne Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's bantamweight
 Bronze Byrne, AnthonyAnthony Byrne Australia 1956 Melbourne Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's lightweight
 Bronze McCourt, JimJim McCourt Japan 1964 Tokyo Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's lightweight
 Bronze Russell, HughHugh Russell Soviet Union 1980 Moscow Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's flyweight
 Silver Wilkins, DavidDavid Wilkins
James Wilkinson
Soviet Union 1980 Moscow Sailing pictogram.svg Sailing Flying Dutchman class
 Silver Treacy, JohnJohn Treacy United States 1984 Los Angeles Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics Men's marathon
 Gold Carruth, MichaelMichael Carruth Spain 1992 Barcelona Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's welterweight
 Silver McCullough, WayneWayne McCullough Spain 1992 Barcelona Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's bantamweight
 Gold Smith, MichelleMichelle Smith United States 1996 Atlanta Swimming pictogram.svg Swimming Women's 400 metre freestyle
 Gold Smith, MichelleMichelle Smith United States 1996 Atlanta Swimming pictogram.svg Swimming Women's 200 metre individual medley
 Gold Smith, MichelleMichelle Smith United States 1996 Atlanta Swimming pictogram.svg Swimming Women's 400 metre individual medley
 Bronze Smith, MichelleMichelle Smith United States 1996 Atlanta Swimming pictogram.svg Swimming Women's 200 metre butterfly
 Silver O'Sullivan, SoniaSonia O'Sullivan Australia 2000 Sydney Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics Women's 5000 metres
 Silver Egan, KennyKenny Egan China 2008 Beijing Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's Light Heavyweight
 Bronze Barnes, PaddyPaddy Barnes China 2008 Beijing Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's Light flyweight
 Bronze Sutherland, DarrenDarren Sutherland China 2008 Beijing Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's Middleweight
 Gold Taylor, KatieKatie Taylor United Kingdom 2012 London Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Women's lightweight
 Silver Nevin, John JoeJohn Joe Nevin United Kingdom 2012 London Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's Bantamweight
 Bronze Barnes, PaddyPaddy Barnes United Kingdom 2012 London Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's Light flyweight
 Bronze Conlan, MichaelMichael Conlan United Kingdom 2012 London Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing Men's flyweight
 Bronze O'Connor, CianCian O'Connor United Kingdom 2012 London Equestrian pictogram.svg Equestrian Individual Showjumping

Doping[edit]

Although Michelle Smith de Bruin was suspended for doping violations in 1998, this did not affect her 1996 medals.[31] Cian O'Connor received the gold medal in the 2004 individual showjumping, but was formally stripped of it in July 2005 because his horse failed the post-event doping test.[32]

Art competitions[edit]

Art competitions at the Olympic Games were held from 1912 to 1948. Irish entries first appeared in 1924, when they won two medals; a third was won in the 1948 competition.

Medal Name Games Event Piece
 Silver Yeats, Jack ButlerJack Butler Yeats France 1924 Paris Mixed Painting Natation[33] ("Swimming"; now on display in the National Gallery of Ireland with the title The Liffey Swim[34])
 Bronze St. John Gogarty, OliverOliver St. John Gogarty France 1924 Paris Mixed Literature Ode pour les Jeux de Tailteann[33] (Taliteann Ode, which had won the prize for poetry at the revived Tailteann Games earlier that year[35]) Gogarty was awarded a bronze medal despite two silver medals being awarded in the category.[36]
 Bronze Hamilton, Letitia MarionLetitia Marion Hamilton United Kingdom 1948 London Paintings Meath Hunt Point-to-Point Races[37] (a painting now "believed to be somewhere in the United States"[38])

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d OCI History, Olympic Council of Ireland
  2. ^ a b MacCarthy 2010, pp.16–21
  3. ^ Athens 1896-BOLAND John Pius (IRL/GBR) Olympic.org
  4. ^ a b MacCarthy 2010, pp.30–37
  5. ^ Thomas Francis Kiely, Great Britain Olympic.org
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r O'Sullivan, Patrick T. (Spring 1998). "Ireland & the Olympic Games". History Ireland (Dublin) 6 (1). 
  7. ^ "This Flag Dips for No Earthly King': The Mysterious Origins of an American Myth'". International Journal of the History of Sport (Routledge) 25 (2): 142–162. 15 February 2008. doi:10.1080/09523360701740299. 
  8. ^ a b MacCarthy 2010, pp.242,253–8
  9. ^ MacCarthy 2010, p.242
  10. ^ a b c Ireland and Olympism, p.432
  11. ^ Cronin, Mike; David Doyle; Liam O'Callaghan. "'Foreign Fields and Foreigners on the Field: Irish Sport, Inclusion and Assimilation'". International Journal of the History of Sport (Routledge) 25 (8): 1010–1030. doi:10.1080/09523360802106754. 
  12. ^ "An Irishman's Diary: The Olympic Games". The Irish Times. 23 May 1928. p. 4. 
  13. ^ "Olympic Games; Question of Irish flag". The Irish Times. 30 May 1928. p. 7. 
  14. ^ Krüger, Arnd; William J. Murray (2003). The Nazi Olympics: sport, politics and appeasement in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 230. ISBN 0-252-02815-5. 
  15. ^ "Eire withdraws swimming squad; Ban on Two Athletes Born in Northern Ireland Impels Protest at Olympics". New York Times. 31 July 1948. p. 10, sports. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  16. ^ Official Report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad. London. 1951. 
  17. ^ a b c "Irish and GB in Olympic row". BBC Sport (BBC). 27 January 2004. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c "Irish athletes to compete in Olympics as 'Ireland'". The Irish Times. 5 October 1956. p. 1. 
  19. ^ "Beijing Olympics: Discussion with Olympic Council of Ireland.". Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Oireachtas. 16 July 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  20. ^ Associated Press (7 December 1956). "Another rhubarb delays Olympic cycling event". St. Petersburg Times. p. 14. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  21. ^ AAP (8 September 1972). "Rebel cyclists sent marching". The Age (Melbourne). p. 15. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  22. ^ AP (8 September 1972). "7 I.R.A. cyclists 'invade' Olympics; Rebels Say Their Team Is Better Than the Regulars, Then Try to Prove It". New York Times. p. 23, Sports. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  23. ^ Coakley, John; Liam O'Dowd (2007). Crossing the border: new relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Irish Academic Press. p. 232. ISBN 0-7165-2922-X. 
  24. ^ "Ireland and Olympism" (PDF). Olympic Review (70–71): 440. September–October 1973. Retrieved 20 February 2009. 
  25. ^ a b c d e Sugden, John; Alan Bairner (1995). "British Sports and Irish identity". Sport, sectarianism and society in a divided Ireland. Leicester University Press. pp. 63–67. ISBN 0-7185-0018-0. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  26. ^ Hamilton, Graham (11 February 2011). "Hockey: Ulster duo get green light for GB". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  27. ^ Dáil debates Vol.204 No.2 p.25 Oireachtas
  28. ^ "Bulletin du Comité Internationale Olympique" (in French) (27). Lausanne: IOC. June 1951. p. 12. 
  29. ^ "Bulletin du Comité Internationale Olympique" (32). Lausanne: IOC. March 1952. pp. 10–11. 
  30. ^ Scanlon, Cronan (8 February 2013). "Olympic gold medal rower from Donegal?". Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  31. ^ Associated Press (9 October 2004). "Irish hero skips awards after horse fails test". Sports Illustrated (CNN). Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  32. ^ Associated Press (3 July 2005). "Medal to go to Brazil after O'Connor opts against appeal". NewsBank. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  33. ^ a b "Les Jeux de la VIIIE Olympiade" (in French). Paris: Comite Olympique Francais. 1924. pp. 605–612. 
  34. ^ "The Liffey Swim". National Gallery of Ireland. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  35. ^ Cronin, Mike (2003). "Projecting the Nation through Sport and Culture: Ireland, Aonach Tailteann and the Irish Free State, 1924-32". Journal of Contemporary History 38 (3): 395–411. doi:10.1177/0022009403038003004. ISSN 1461-7250. 
  36. ^ MacCarthy 2010, p.391,fn.29
  37. ^ "The Official Report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad London 1948" (PDF). London: The Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad. 1951. pp. 535–537. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  38. ^ "1948 Irish Olympians honoured". RTÉ.ie. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.