3rd Year: Sport, Leisure & Entertainment in 20th Century Ireland

Gay Byrne presented The Late Late Show on RTÉ from
1962 to 1999.

© RTÉ TV50
Main Page: Social Change in 20th Century Ireland

Have you used the RTÉ Player to watch anything before? Even if you haven't, you've at least used YouTube. Twenty years ago, no-one would have thought you could watch things on a computer as if it was a TV. RTÉ Television is 50 years old this year (you might have seen some of their TV50 features).

The channel we now call RTÉ One was launched on New Year's Eve 1961. RTÉ Two followed in 1978. We didn't get a third channel until Teilifís na Gaeilge (now TG4) launched in 1996, and TV3 came by in 1998, the same year Sky introduced digital television to Ireland.

Just as TV has changed, so has cinema. This weekend you might go to the nearest cineplex or omniplex and choose from a large list of films to watch. Your parents and grandparents would have gone to single-screen cinemas to see whatever the biggest film of the time was (such as the latest James Bond film). Most of these cinemas are long closed down. In Cork for example, some of those old cinemas were the Savoy (now a shopping centre and nightclub), the Colosseum (now a Leisureplex) and the Pavillion (now HMV).

Jack Charlton, Republic of Ireland football
team manager, 1986-1995

Picture from Goal.com
One thing that hasn't changed (much) is sport. Gaelic games become popular towards the end of the 19th century and only became more popular after independence. Other sports have become important as well: in 1990, the Irish football team made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and Irish athletes have always done well in the Olympics.
Maybe you prefer to stay in. Do you sit with your family around the fire, talking, playing cards and singing songs? This is how people in rural communities at the start of the century spent their leisure time. Now, across urban and rural areas, more and more people (young and old) are using Facebook, Twitter, Skype, mobile phones and digital TV. Entertainment has changed in a huge way over the last century.

Imagine what the students of 2112 will think of us!

Continue to Transport and Communications in 20th century Ireland

  • Leisure in the countryside and in the city in the early 20th century.
  • Theatres, music halls, cinemas and radio.
  • Rock 'n' Roll and showbands.
  • The arrival of television (and digital, videos, DVDs)
  • Cinemas being replaced with Cineplexes.
  • Sport (beginning of the century, government promotion, economy)
  • Youth market (concerts, PlayStation, etc.

Slane Castle has hosted concerts since 1981.

RTÉ TV50: The History of RTÉ
RTÉ are celebrating their 50th anniversary through a website explaining (with images and videos) its history from 1962 to 2012.

Ireland Information: Cinema
Remember Jack Lynch?
Before politics, he was a Cork hurler.
This site gives an overview of the history of Irish cinema and films.

A Short History of Irish Cinema
Another overview like the one above. 

The History of the GAA
The GAA tells its history here. The grey menu on the left has links to a timeline, past presidents and GAA All-Stars going as far back as 1971.

The History of the FAI
And here, the FAI tells its story, divided into sections.

The Dancehall Era (YouTube)
This short video tells the story of dancehalls and showbands in Ireland in the mid 20th century.

The Showbands of the 50s and 60s
This site has as much information about Irish showbands as you're ever going to need, and it goes on to the present day.