Sunday 21 January 2018

Slaughtered sacred cows fed the land of good grass

Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris

LISTENING to the radio last week, I was reminded of two revolutionary, and fairly recent, positive changes in the images of two institutions and their members – the IFA and the GAA, representing the farmers, footballers and hurlers of Ireland.

The record attendances at the National Ploughing Championships and the All-Ireland championships in Croke Park reveal a widespread respect for rural life and Gaelic games. But few under 30 realise that not so long ago neither farmers nor hurlers were universally loved by the urban working and middle classes.

Ten years ago many city workers, pluralists and women had plenty of reservations about the IFA and the GAA. Farmers did not pay taxes as PAYE workers did, GAA members were in the grip of narrow nationalism, both shared a macho culture.

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