The 1888 American Invasion Tour
The intent of The 1888 American Invasion Tour was twofold: fundraising and cultural preservation. GAA leaders aimed to raise money to revive the Tailteann Games, an ancient Irish sporting contest, in the form of a Celtic Festival in Dublin. This revival of Irish tradition in Ireland would be supported by the spread of Gaelic games in America. An Irish hurling team traveled to the United States, where they played exhibition matches against American teams and put their sporting skills on display through several shows and demonstrations. This spectacle became an Irish investment, as the tour was initially funded by contributions from hurling clubs, which expected a return on their investment
Unfortunate weather conditions and disputes between American athletic associations resulted in a disappointing attendance at the hurling matches. Although the tour was deemed a failure in some regards, its overall cultural impact was noticeable and lasting. The tour was well received by Irish American communities in general and eventually resulted in the formation of several GAA branches in cities such as Philadelphia and New York. Overall, the tour benefited the re-introduction of Irish sporting culture in America more than the revival of an Irish sporting tradition in Ireland itself, as not enough money was raised to hold the Tailteann Games.
Click below to hear stories of Irish Americans regarding emigration and the GAA. This content is provided by Boston College's © GAA Oral History Project.