1: Exodus: Isle of Hope, Isle of Dreams
2: American Sports: Irish Whales
3: James “Jim” Mitchell and the Irish Invasion
4: John “The Modern Hercules” Flanagan and Olympic Gold
5: American Fiasco, Irish American Triumph: The St. Louis Olympic Games, 1904
6: Peerless Athlete and Intrepid American: Martin Sheridan and the Forgotten Olympics
7: The Irish American Athletic Club: Home of the Whales
8: The Irish Whales’ Greatest Triumph: The 1908 London Olympics
9: 1912: The Swedish Masterpiece
10: Interregnum: 1912 to 1920
11: Last Throws of the Dice: The Antwerp and Paris Olympic Games
12: A Whale of a Story: Aftermath and Legacy
Appendix A: Olympic Medals Won by the Irish Whales as Part of the U.S. Olympic Team
Appendix B: Olympic Hammer Throw Medals, 1900–1932
Appendix C: Multiple Medals Ranking, Hammer Throw
About the Author
Cultural historian and educator Martin provides readers with an in-depth exploration of a forgotten group of Irish Olympians from the early 20th century. Names such as Jim Mitchell, John Flanagan, Matt McGrath, Pat McDonald, Martin Sheridan, and Pat Ryan fill the pages of this book, highlighting the impressive athleticism of this group of individuals, aptly named "Irish Whales" as a reflection of their girth and height. They set and broke myriad records for the hammer throw, discus, shot put, and 56-pound weight throw during numerous amateur athletic contests, including eight Olympic Games held between 1900 and 1932. The Whales earned a combined 22 Olympic medals (most of them gold) and 80 US Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles. Those Irish Whales who had immigrated to the US represented their new homeland with aplomb, but they never forgot the land of their birth. The text weaves together topics linking US immigration and Irish history, illustrating the significant role of nationalism and sports-related culture at the time, in a very readable manner. The influence of US-based sporting clubs and the role of the New York Police Department as employer for most of the Whales is also highlighted, and the presentation is enhanced by an appropriate selection of 33 photographic illustrations. Summing Up: Recommended.
[Kevin Martin’s] terrific new book The Irish Whales: Olympians of Old New York [documents] how an exceptional wave of sportspeople would help transform the Irish from being the runt of New York and American society to being the toast of the town.
Given the crumbling barrier between politics and sport today, Martin’s book takes on added significance in that it shows how sports and nationalism have always been intertwined. Though lightly sourced, the book is a breezy, compelling read, and a perfect introduction for someone interested in either Irish immigration or early Olympic history.
This book is a masterpiece of Irish-American social and sporting history. The wonderful and remarkable achievement of the Irish Whales are brought to light in most descriptive and researched manner.
HIT/DETAILS: 2/16/2021, Irish Examiner: A profile of the book says “Kevin Martin's terrific new book, The Irish Whales: Olympians of Old New York, documents how an exceptional wave of sportspeople would help transform the Irish from being the runt of New York and American society to being the toast of the town.”