HistoryHurling Club and Identity

hurling-club-00 The early group of predominantly male, Catholic and urban middle-class employees who started the Hurling Club in the 1920s resisted the Anglophile attitudes typical of many contemporary Irish and Argentine landed families. Though hurling originally represented a factor of differentiation from these other groups, it also led to insularity. The adoption of the more widely played sports of rugby and hockey enabled club members to assert their identity in the wider community. Whilst hurling was first viewed as masculine entertainment, perceptions began to change from the 1930s onwards, when women were not only accepted as companions of the male members, but as full members themselves. The success of female hockey is a manifestation of this successful integration of women in the Club.

The Club still continues to successfully maintain an Irish identity, though this is being challenged through a decline in participation from members of the Irish-Argentine community and a concomitant rise in members from the wider community. The then Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring paid an official visit to the Hurling Club in 1996 and recalled that ‘it was a memorable experience to see the green jersey, complete with shamrock, worn with distinction by the players of the Hurling Club with such names as Scully (sic), Rush and McAllister – in a match against the Rugby Club of Buenos Aires (sic)’ (Spring, 1996). To some extent the impact on the unique identity of the club through the diminution in participation from the Irish-Argentines has been offset by the large number of touring Irish rugby clubs, other sporting clubs and official delegations from Ireland that visit the club on a regular basis. In recognition of its strong Irish-Argentine ethos and its capacity to continue the Irish-Argentine sense of identity and links with Ireland, in 2007 the Club was given a grant by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs as part of their annual grants programme to Irish community organisations in the Southern Hemisphere.