Modern sport - with its teams, rules, clubs and federations - evolved as a
Victorian phenomenon, beginning in English public schools and spreading to
the ancient universities and thence to the wider world. Trinity College,
Dublin, having the oldest rowing, football (rugby), hurling and athletic
clubs in Ireland, and the second oldest cricket club, played a decisive and
pioneering role in the development of these games.
The Bold Collegians traces the history of Trinity's sporting community in
chapters on the emergence of early clubs, the College Races and the
Athletic Union, the Gaelic Athletic Association, postwar revival and the
consolidation and expansion of sporting activities in the mid to late
twentieth century. The larger conflicts of political revolution, civil war
and partition left a legacy of athletic division; but these fissures, first
apparent in the 1880s, were healed, often by Trinity sportsmen and women
acting in conjunction with their colleagues from other universities in the
The author illustrates his story with archival material from College
Library (notably, the letters of C.B. Barrington - father of Irish rugby),
and provides a fascinating series of vignettes of outstanding sporting
personalities - from J.P. Mahaffy, Anthony Traill, J.C. Parke, Harry Read,
Dickie Lloyd, Denis Coulson, George McVeagh, Samuel Beckett, Oliver
Gogarty, Maeve Shankey, David Guiney and Jonah Barrington, to present-day
heroes such as the Christle brothers, John Robbie, John Prior, Brendan
Mullin and Hugo MacNeill. He sheds valuable light on the codification of
Irish games, while siting the progress of university sport within its
socio-political context. Historical photographs of teams and individuals
from the 1860s onwards embellish the narrative.
The Bold Collegians is an entertaining and important work for all concerned
with the history of world sport and the growth of games in Ireland.
Trevor West, educated at Midleton College, Co. Cork, and the High School,
Dublin, is a graduate of Dublin and Cambridge Universities, a fellow of
Trinity College, Dublin and associate professor of Mathematics. He
represented the university for twelve years in the Irish Senate and has
been chairman of the Dublin University Central Athletic Club since 1976.
His biography of the founder of the Irish co-operative movement, Horace
Plunkett, Co-operation and Politics, was published in 1976.