This study examines the contribution made by Íde Bean Uí Shé to the game of camogie, particularly in her native county of Cork. Camogie is a team game, devised by female members of the Gaelic League in 1904 who wished to participate in fields sports in a manner similar to their male associates. They devised a game that was comparable to the ancient male game of hurling. Íde Bean Uí Shé became an officer of the Cork County Camogie Board in 1940, and chairperson of the Board in 1943. She was frustrated by the number of players who ceased their involvement with camogie when they married. She was also of the opinion that the involvement of males as administrators of camogie affairs, was a barrier to the continued involvement of females after they retired from playing. As chairperson, Íde Bean Uí Shé insisted that the officership of the Cork County Camogie Board should be all female. She withdrew the Cork team from competing in the All-Ireland Camogie Championship on the principle that there should be no male camogie administrators at the national level. She held Cork out of the competition for eight years. During that time, she re-organised Cork camogie competitions, helped the Board to develop its finances, encouraged the development of second-level schools’ competitions and oversaw rapid growth in the number of affiliated clubs. She stepped down as chairperson in 1950 and was made Board President for life. Soon after she stepped down as chairperson, Cork inevitably returned to intercounty camogie competition. While some of her more ambitious aims, such as a dedicated venue for playing camogie, were not achieved during her lifetime, Íde Bean Uí Shé remained a committed supporter of the role of women in camogie and, by extension, society, until her death in 1986. This study draws on the published histories of the National Camogie Association and the Cork County Camogie Board as well as the coverage of camogie affairs in newspapers of the time. A number of interviews were also conducted with individuals who worked in camogie administration with Íde Bean Uí Shé. The study reveals the tale of a woman who believed in, and campaigned for, the rights of women to participate in sport, in this case, camogie, on the playing field and in the boardroom.
Keywords: Camogie, Íde Bean Uí Shé, Cork County Camogie Board, GAA, UCC Camogie, Old Als
How to Cite:
O'Donovan D., (2021) “Íde Bean Uí Shé, Cork Camogie’s Feminist Influencer”, Studies in Arts and Humanities 7(1), p.85-112. doi: https://doi.org/10.18193/sah.v7i1.203