Talk:Tailteann Games

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Earliest date[edit]

I don't know anything about the Tailteann Games, but I do know that we have no reliable sources for Irish history dating back to 1829BCE! This needs to be corrected. Alarichall (talk) 20:39, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

The Irish Independent article says 1829BC. If you can find any proof that this citation violates WP:VERIFY then you might have something, but in the meantime it's a legitimate inclusion in the article. --Eamonnca1 (talk) 21:24, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

There is absolutely no foundation for accepting a specific date for anything whatsoever in Irish history prior to the medieval period, or very late antiquity at best (around the time of St. Patrick). The earliest Ogham "runes" are 4th century CE, Hiberno-Latin writing isn't found until the 6th century, and written Irish is even later. Our sense of early Irish history comes from the writings of medieval Christian monks and is largely legendary and mythic in character. Most Celticists would put the arrival of Celtic-speakers in Ireland no earlier than 1000 BCE. It is impossible that there should be a specific date for these games or that they should be this early. There is no proof that they existed at all. The Lebor Gabála, from which this supposed knowledge of the Festival of Tailtiu comes, dates from the 11th century--almost 3000 years after the date claimed! There seems to have been a tradition of actual games associated with this town, in which men competed in horse-racing and martial arts, but there is no way of knowing how old the festival was. There were a number of such festivals described in medieval Irish literature, and possibly (but only possibly) they are descriptions of authentic pre-Christian traditions. Nothing more definite than that can be claimed for the games. Note that the very name "Tailteann Games" is modern, and the idea of the games exists more in support of modern Irish nation-building and cultural pride than as something that we actually know much of anything about from history or archaeology.


Newspapers are not a good source for information about early Celtic history or culture: there's a lot of misinformation and wishful thinking out there, and newspapers merely recirculate it. It is worth noting that there is no mention of any Tailteann Games in the online bibliography of the Celtic Studies Association of North America, which dates back to the 1980s. If they had been a big deal, someone in the international community of Celticists would have published an article or book about them since the 1980s. The scholars cited below are prominent Celticists, but the sources from the 1920s are from the nation-building period and less reliable. Sources: Máire MacNeill, "The Festival of Lughnasa," 1962: 311-38; Daniel A. Binchy, "The Fair at Tailtiu and the Feast of Tara," "Ériu" 18 (1958) 113-38; Thomas H. Nally, "The Aonach Tailteann and the Tailteann Games," 1922; T. J. Westropp, "Marriages of the Gods and the Sanctuary of Tailltiu," "Folk-Lore" 31 (1920) 109-41; Catherine Swift, "Oenach Tailten, the Blackwater Valley and the Ui Neill kings of Tara," "Seanchas: Studies in Early and Medieval Irish Archaeology, History and Literature in Honour of Francis J. Byrne, 2000: 109-120. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Winter Maiden (talkcontribs) 00:08, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

I have changed the intro and the section around the dating of the games to more properly describe them and their place in history slash pseudohistory slash folklore. I have left the ridiculous claims for the antiquity of the games in place, but changed the context of the claim, which is a modern claim based on early modern and modern folklore. (The only pre-modern source for information on the games is the Lebor Gabála, which does not give dates.) I have taken out the reference to the Olympics, which is irrelevant. If it comes to that, the funeral games held by Achilles for Patroclus would also predate the Olympics, and so what? In fact, the idea of funeral games may be borrowed by medieval Irish monks from classical literature and have nothing to do with the ancient Irish at all. But certainly the IDEA of the games is significant in modern Irish lore about the ancient past. Winter Maiden (talk) 00:31, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

By the way, the Lugh who supposedly founded the games was the god Lugh, of the Tuatha Dé Danann, which gives you some idea of the probable historicity of these "ancient" games. Winter Maiden (talk) 00:50, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, the origin of the 1829 BC date would appear to be the entry for the The Age of the World, 3370 (3370 → 1829 BC) in the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (see p. 21-23 of O'Donovan's 1849 translation). --92.4.165.211 (talk) 02:07, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Motor Boat event, why so much information?[edit]

It's good that we have all this information on the motor boat event, but I'm a bit puzzled about what it was or why it's included in this article with no detail given on other events. --Eamonnca1 (talk) 21:27, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Room for expansion[edit]

Just found a great article [1] on the history of these games. Obviously there's more detail on the revival attempts than the pre-Norman games. I'll beef up the page later when I get time. --Eamonnca1 (talk) 20:58, 14 March 2011 (UTC)