Ireland at the Olympics
|Ireland at the|
|NOC||Olympic Federation of Ireland|
|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 Federation of Ireland (OCI) was formed in 1922 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. There has been controversy over whether the team represents the Republic of Ireland or the entire island of Ireland, which comprises both the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Medals by Summer Games
Medals by Winter Games
Medals by summer sport
|Totals (6 sports)||9||10||12||31|
List of medallists
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.
- 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.
- Robert Heffernan finished fourth in the 2012 men's 50 kilometres walk won by Sergey Kirdyapkin. On 24 March 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport disqualified all Kirdyapkin's competitive results from 20 August 2009 to 15 October 2012. Hefferan was upgraded to third, and formally presented with a bronze medal in November 2016.
Medallists in art competitions
|Silver||Jack Butler Yeats||1924 Paris||Mixed Painting||Natation ("Swimming"; now on display in the National Gallery of Ireland with the title The Liffey Swim)|
|Bronze||Oliver St. John Gogarty||1924 Paris||Mixed Literature||Ode pour les Jeux de Tailteann (Tailteann Ode, which had won the prize for poetry at the revived Tailteann Games earlier that year) Gogarty was awarded a bronze medal despite two silver medals being awarded in the category.|
|Bronze||Letitia Marion Hamilton||1948 London||Paintings||Meath Hunt Point-to-Point Races (a painting in 2012 "believed to be somewhere in the United States")|
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. In the event, neither participated. 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"; Boland's daughter later claimed that he had objected when the Union Jack was raised to mark his triumph, and that the organisers apologised for not having an Irish flag. Kevin MacCarthy is sceptical of this story, though by 1906 Boland was crediting his medals to "Ireland".
Tom Kiely, who won the "all-around" athletics competition at the 1904 Olympics in St Louis is also listed as competing for "Great Britain".  He had raised funds in counties Tipperary and Waterford to travel independently and compete for Ireland. Frank Zarnowski does not regard the 1904 event as part of the Olympic competition, and doubts the story that Kiely had refused offers by both the English Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) and the New York Athletic Club to pay his fare so he could compete for them. Peter Lovesey disagrees with Zarnowski. It
The British Olympic Association (BOA) was formed in 1905, and Irish athletes were accredited to the BOA team from the 1906 Games onwards. Whereas Pierre de Coubertin recognised teams from Bohemia and Finland separately from their respective imperial powers, Austria and Russia, he was unwilling to make a similar distinction for Ireland, either because it lacked a National Olympic Committee, or for fear of offending Britain. At the 1906 Games, 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.
At the 1908 Games in London, there were multiple BOA 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 in 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. The Irish team came 11th in the team time trial. The organisers had proposed a similar division in the football tournament, but the BOA demurred.
A 1913 list of 35 countries to be invited to the 1916 Olympics included Ireland separately from Great Britain; similarly Finland and Hungary were to be separate from Russia and Austria, although Bohemia was not listed. A newspaper report of the 1914 Olympic Congress says it endorsed a controversial German Olympic Committee proposal that "now—contrary to the hitherto existing practice—only political nations may participate as teams in the Olympic Games", with the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" among these "political nations". In the event, the games were cancelled due to the First World War.
After the war, John J. Keane attempted to unite various sports associations under an Irish Olympic Committee. 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. Keane proposed that a separate Irish delegation, marching under the Union Flag, should participate at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. 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.
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. These points have been contentious, particularly from the 1930s to the 1950s in athletics, and until the 1970s in cycling.
The governing bodies in the island of 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). 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. 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.
In 1925, some Northern Ireland athletics clubs left NACA(I) and in 1930 formed the Northern Ireland Amateur Athletics Association, which later formed the British Athletic Federation (BAF) with the English and Scottish Amateur Athletics Associations. 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. 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. The NACA(I) refused to comply and was suspended in 1935, thus missing the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The OCI decided to boycott the Games completely in protest.
The UCI likewise suspended the NACA(I) for refusing to confine itself to the Irish Free State. The athletics and cycling wings of the NACA(I) split into two all-island bodies, and seprate Irish 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 London Olympics, but the rest of the OCI delegation shunned them. 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. The entire swimming squad withdrew, but the rest of the team competed.
Some athletes born in what had become the Republic of Ireland continued to compete for the British team. 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. In Irish nationality law, birth in Northern Ireland grants a citizenship entitlement similar to birth within the Republic of Ireland itself. In 1956, Killanin stated that both the OCI and the BOA "quite rightly" judged eligibility based on citizenship laws. 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. Seven were arrested in 1972; three had delayed the start and the other four joined mid-race to ambush ICF competitor Noel Taggart, causing a minor pileup. 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.
The Irish Hockey Union joined the OCI in 1949, and the Ireland team in non-Olympic competitions is selected on an all-island basis. Until 1992 the IHU was not invited to the Olympic hockey tournament, while Northern Irish hockey players like Stephen Martin played on the British Olympic men's team. In 1992, invitation was replaced by an Olympic qualifying tournament, which the IHU/IHA has entered, despite some opposition from Northern Irish members. Northern Irish players can play for Ireland or Britain, and can switch affiliation subject to International Hockey Federation clearance. The Irish Ladies Hockey Union has entered the Olympics since 1984, and in 1980 suspended Northern Irish players who elected to play for the British women's team.
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.
In November 2003, the OCI discovered that the British Olympic Association (BOA) had been using Northern Ireland in the text of its "Team Members Agreement" document since the 2002 Games. Its objection was made public in January 2004. The BOA responded that "Unbeknown to each other both the OCI and BOA have constitutions approved by the IOC acknowledging territorial responsibility for Northern Ireland", the BOA constitution dating from 1981. OCI president Pat Hickey claimed the IOC's copy of the BOA constitution had "question marks" against mentions of Northern Ireland (and Gibraltar); an IOC spokesperson said "Through an error we have given both national Olympic committees rights over the same area." The 2012 Games host was to be selected in July 2004 and so, to prevent the dispute harming the London bid, its director Barbara Cassani and the Blair government secured agreement by which Northern Ireland was removed from BOA documents and marketing materials. Northern Ireland athletes retain the right to compete for Britain.
The longstanding practice relating to athletes in Northern Ireland who qualify for participation at the Olympic Games is that an athlete born in Northern Ireland who qualifies for participation at the Olympic Games and who holds a UK passport, may opt for selection by either Team GB or Ireland. The British Olympic Association (BOA) and the Olympic Council for Ireland (OCI) have recently confirmed this agreement.
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.[...]As people from Northern Ireland can choose whether to have an Irish or a British passport, athletes from that part of the world can choose whether to compete for Ireland or Britain.
Hickey also said:
The council is proud that, like the Irish rugby team, it represents the island of Ireland. Ireland is unusual, in Olympic terms. The council is not the Olympic committee of the Republic of Ireland - it is the Olympic Council of Ireland. We have responsibility for the North of Ireland. We can thank my predecessor, Lord Killanin, for that.
In 2012, Stephen Martin, who has been an executive at both the OCI and the BOA, said "Team GB is a brand name. Just like Team Ireland. The British and Irish Olympic committees are seen by the International Olympic Committees as having joint rights over Northern Ireland."
In 2009, rugby sevens was added to the Olympic programme starting in 2016. While World Rugby states players from Northern Ireland are eligible to compete on the Great Britain team, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) director of rugby said in 2011 that "with the agreement of the [English, Scottish, and Welsh] unions" the "de facto position" was that Northern Ireland players must represent an IRFU team. In 2010 The Daily Telegraph opined that the IRFU would be entitled to refuse to release players under contract to it, but not to prohibit Northern Ireland players based outside Ireland; but that the issue needed to be handled "with extreme sensitivity".
Name of the country
The OCI sees itself as representing the island rather than the state, and hence uses the name "Ireland". It changed its own name from "Irish Olympic Council" to "Olympic Council of Ireland" in 1952 to reinforce this point. 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 IOC sometimes used "Irish Free State". IOC President Henri de Baillet-Latour supported the principle of delimitation by political borders. At the 1932 Games, Eoin O'Duffy persuaded the Organisers to switch from "Irish Free State" to "Ireland" shortly before the Opening Ceremony. 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. 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. An OCI request to change this to "Ireland" was rejected in 1952. The name "Ireland" was accepted just before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. 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.
- List of flag bearers for Ireland at the Olympics
- Category:Olympic competitors for Ireland
- Ireland at the Paralympics
- Ireland at the British Empire Games
- 2016 Summer Olympics ticket scandal
- Hunt, Tom (2015). "'In our case, it seems obvious the British Organising Committee piped the tune': the campaign for recognition of 'Ireland' in the Olympic Movement, 1935–1956". Sport in Society. 18 (7): 835–852. doi:10.1080/17430437.2014.990689. ISSN 1743-0437.
- Llewellyn, Matthew P. (2015). "For a 'United' Kingdom and a 'Greater' Britain: the British Olympic Association and the limitations and contestations of 'Britishness'". Sport in Society. 18 (7): 765–782. doi:10.1080/17430437.2014.990687. ISSN 1743-0437.
- MacCarthy, Kevin (30 March 2010). Gold, Silver and Green: The Irish Olympic Journey 1896-1924. Cork University Press. ISBN 9781859184585. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "Ireland". Countries. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- "Ireland". Olympic Medal Winners. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- "Ireland". Olympics > Countries. Sports-Reference.com. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- OCI History, Olympic Council of Ireland
- O'Sullivan, Patrick T. (Spring 1998). "Ireland & the Olympic Games". History Ireland. Dublin. 6 (1).
- Scanlon, Cronan (8 February 2013). "Olympic gold medal rower from Donegal?". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- Associated Press (3 July 2005). "Medal to go to Brazil after O'Connor opts against appeal". NewsBank. Archived from the original on 25 September 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "50km walk men results – Athletics – London 2012 Olympics".
- "The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Upholds Six Appeals Filed by the IAAF Against Russian Athlete" (PDF).
- Press Association (24 March 2016). "Irish race walker Heffernan to receive London 2012 medal over Russian doping". Irish Independent. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
The IAAF will begin the process of reallocating two World Championship gold medals as well as Olympic medals following the CAS verdict. The IOC will formally redistribute the Olympic medals.
- Cormican, Eoghan (4 November 2016). "Rob Heffernan finally receives his just reward - an Olympic medal". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- "Les Jeux de la VIIIE Olympiade" (in French). Paris: Comite Olympique Francais. 1924: 605–612. Cite journal requires
- "The Liffey Swim". National Gallery of Ireland. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- 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.
- MacCarthy 2010, p.391,fn.29
- "The Official Report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad London 1948" (PDF). London: The Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad. 1951: 535–537. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012. Cite journal requires
- "1948 Irish Olympians honoured". RTÉ.ie. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- MacCarthy 2010, pp.16–21
- Athens 1896-BOLAND John Pius (IRL/GBR) Olympic.org
- MacCarthy 2010, pp.30–37
- Thomas Francis Kiely, Great Britain Olympic.org
- Zarnowski, Frank (2005). "Thomas F. Kiely". All-around Men: Heroes of a Forgotten Sport. Scarecrow Press. pp. 113–125: 118. ISBN 9780810854239. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
- Lovesey, Peter (November 2007). "Letter to the editor" (PDF). Journal of Olympic History. International Society of Olympic Historians. 15 (3): 84–5.
- Llewellyn, Matthew (2010). "A 'United' Kingdom? Nationalism, Identity and the Modern Olympic Games" (PDF). Rethinking Matters Olympic: Investigations into the Socio-Cultural Study of the Modern Olympic Movement. Tenth International Symposium for Olympic Research. University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, Canada: International Centre for Olympic Studies. pp. 94–105. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- "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.
- MacCarthy 2010, pp.242,253–8
- MacCarthy 2010, p.242
- Kolár, František; Kössl, Jirí (Winter 1996). "Pierre De Coubertin and the Czech Lands" (PDF). Citius Altius Fortius. Durham, NC, USA: International Society of Olympic Historians. 4 (1): 5–16: 11, fn.37. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
- Lennartz, Karl (2010). "The Olympic Games and Politics, 1896–1916" (PDF). In Barney, R.K.; Forsyth, J.; Heine, M.K. (eds.). Rethinking Matters Olympic: Investigations into the Socio-Cultural Study of the Modern Olympic Movement. 10th International Symposium for Olympic Research. London, Ontario: ICOS. pp. 138–145 : 144. ISBN 0-7714-2518-X. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- Ireland and Olympism, p.432
- 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.
- "Olympic Games; Question of Irish flag". The Irish Times. 30 May 1928. p. 7.
- "An Irishman's Diary: The Olympic Games". The Irish Times. 23 May 1928. p. 4.
- 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.
- "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.
- Official Report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad (PDF). London. 1951. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011.
- "Irish and GB in Olympic row". BBC Sport. BBC. 27 January 2004. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
- "Irish athletes to compete in Olympics as 'Ireland'". The Irish Times. 5 October 1956. p. 1.
- Associated Press (7 December 1956). "Another rhubarb delays Olympic cycling event". St. Petersburg Times. p. 14. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- AAP (8 September 1972). "Rebel cyclists sent marching". The Age. Melbourne. p. 15. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Ireland and Olympism" (PDF). Olympic Review (70–71): 440. September–October 1973. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
- 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.
- Hamilton, Graham (11 February 2011). "Hockey: Ulster duo get green light for GB". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Dáil debates Vol.204 No.2 p.25 Oireachtas
- Watterson, Johnny (28 January 2004). "Dispute could jeopardise London bid". Irish Times. Dublin. p. 23.
- Mooney, Brendan (29 January 2004). "Hickey: Northern Irish athletes are free to represent Ireland at Olympics". Irish Examiner. Cork.
- Bright, Richard (21 February 2004). "British agree on Irish issue". The Daily Telegraph. London. p. 7.
- Beard, Matthew (18 February 2004). "Olympic Games: BOA moves to resolve turf war with Irish". The Independent. London. p. 47.
- "Olympic Games Participation". House of Lords debates. Hansard. 21 October 2004. vol 665 c99WA. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- "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.
- Little, Ivan (10 August 2012). "GB or not GB -- that is the question". Belfast Telegraph. Belfast. p. 6.
- "Regulation 8 Explanatory Guidelines". World Rugby. paragraphs 12, 13. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- Watterson, Johnny (14 April 2011). "IRFU rule out Ulster players for British team". The Irish Times. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- "Officials to discuss Team GB Olympic Sevens team". The Daily Telegraph. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- "Requête de l'Eire. Bulletin du Comité Internationale Olympique" (PDF) (in French) (27). Lausanne: IOC. June 1951: 12. Cite journal requires
- "Extract of the 46th Session of the International Olympic Committee, Oslo, 12th to 13th February, 1952. Bulletin du Comité Internationale Olympique" (PDF) (32). Lausanne: IOC. March 1952: 10–11. Cite journal requires
- "Results and Medalists—Ireland". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee.