Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Cultural and economic geography, Interdisciplinary, History, Arts, Art history, 6.5 OTHER HUMANITIES

Publication Details

Presented at European Sports Tourism Conference, University of Limerick (May 2015)


The Importance of Sporting Imagery in Representing National Identity

By Siobhán Doyle

Paper Abstract

The Irish landscape- the landscape of the West of Ireland in particular- became synonymous with what it is to be Irish and this association remains today. However another dimension in visual representations of Ireland has emerged- sporting imagery. Images of the Irish rugby team lifting the Six Nations Trophy, Irish soccer team reaching the quarter finals of the World Cup and the global expansion of Gaelic Games paired with the proliferation of successful sporting individuals such as Katie Taylor, Sonia O’ Sullivan, Rory McIlroy and Conor McGregor, has contributed to a change in visual representations of Irishness. By merging sport, visual culture and national identity, we are overcoming the traditional imagery of Ireland’s rolling green fields and rehabilitating Irish people in the imagination of people around the rest of the world. Signifiers of national identity have changed throughout history from negative stereotypes in Punch Magazine used by colonizing powers to justify their presence, to the growing revolution in Ireland during the early 1900s sparking a reaction to the Irish stereotype in the form of landscape. My paper will explore how we are entering another new era of iconic representations of Ireland where sporting imagery features prominently.