While it may be one of Britain’s largest football clubs, many would argue that its most devout supporters come from the island next door; Ireland. Read on to find out how Celtic FC became a symbol of Irish identity.
Irish identity is explicitly intertwined with one of Scotland’s most popular football clubs, Celtic FC. From the name and the logo to the very reason for its inception, it is impossible to separate the two communities from one another.
Here’s a look at the origins of Celtic FC and how it became a symbol of Irish identity up to today.
- While it may be one of Britain’s largest football clubs, many would argue that its most devout supporters come from the island next door; Ireland. Read on to find out how Celtic FC became a symbol of Irish identity.
- Celtic FC origins – an opportunity to support the starving
- Names and logos – a reflection of Ireland
- Managerial power – an Irish influence throughout
- Players throughout the ages – a strong Irish presence on the pitch
- Celtic Park stadium – imbued with Irish spirit through a single sod of turf
- Celtic FC today – roaring success from the luck of the Irish?
Celtic FC origins – an opportunity to support the starving
Celtic FC has humble roots as an organisation determined to help alleviate the poverty faced by the large Irish immigrant population in the East End of Glasgow.
Inspired by Hibernian, which was formed by the Irish population in Edinburgh a few years prior, Irish Marist Brother Walfrid held a meeting in St. Mary’s church hall in November 1887, and the club was born as a charity to raise money for the poor.
So successful was its inception, Celtic FC has risen to be one of the most successful clubs in football today.
Names and logos – a reflection of Ireland
The name Celtic was chosen to reflect the shared Celtic ancestry of both Ireland and Scotland. The colour green was adopted from their formation, and the four-leaf clover was used in their badge from the 1930s before being formally adopted as the crest of the kit in the 1970s.
These cultural nods to Ireland have remained long past the 19th century and are part of how Celtic FC became a symbol of Irish identity.
So strong is the link between the colour green and Celtic, other football supporters may even refuse to wear the colour on a normal day for fear of indirectly showing allegiance to the Celts!
Managerial power – an Irish influence throughout
The club was founded by an Irishman, and in turn, its management was passed onto Irish-born Scot, Willie Maley. Maley led Celtic to thirty trophy wins and is believed to have coined the now-famous motto, “It is not his creed nor his nationality which counts. It’s the man himself”.
Following in Maley’s footsteps, Celtic has seen other managers hailing from Ireland step up to the plate. Sligo man Sean Fallon was at the helm in 1975 while manager Jock Stein recovered from injuries, and Liam Brady worked with the team in the early nineties.
Furthermore, Derry-born Martin O’Neill had a successful period in charge in the early 2000s, and both incumbent manager Brendan Rodgers and former captain Neil Lennon have had two spells each in the dugout.
Players throughout the ages – a strong Irish presence on the pitch
From its inception, many Irish players have played for Celtic. From Packie Bonner, who remained loyal to Celtic throughout his twenty-year career, to names like Robbie Keane and Roy Keane, who had stints in the club, there are several Irish people who have taken to Celtic Park.
Today Celtic’s Irish players include defender Liam Scales and midfielder James McCarthy.
Celtic Park stadium – imbued with Irish spirit through a single sod of turf
In 1892, the first sod of turf that was laid in the Celtic Park was imported from County Donegal. To mark the occasion, Irish patriot Michael Davitt also laid some shamrocks on the grounds to further highlight the strength of the connection between Ireland and Celtic FC.
This tradition continued more than one hundred years later in 1995, when, during the redevelopment of the stadium, another sod of turf from Donegal was laid. The sod travelled with fifty supporters from Gweedore to Glasgow, in a very significant passage from Ireland to Scotland.
Celtic FC today – roaring success from the luck of the Irish?
Celtic are one of only five clubs in the world to have won over one hundred trophies in their history. Their continued successes mean it’s no wonder that the Irish in Scotland and beyond continue to offer their support to the team that has stood beside Irish identity for 135 years.
If you’re keen to lend some of your support to Celtic from Ireland, you won’t be alone – the first flight out from Dublin to Glasgow will be crammed with men in green crooning Celtic anthems.
Current shareholder Desmond Desmond lists second on our list of the most successful Irish entrepreneurs of recent memory.
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