Irish emigrants are credited with bringing handball to North America where to this day it thrives as an urban sport. It was included in the G.A.A. charter from its foundation. The first G.A.A. Handball Championships were held in 1923, coinciding with a renewed interest in the game evident by the construction of purpose built handball alleys across the country during the preceding decade.
Interest in the game went through a period of decline in the early decades of the 20th century as people began to move to towns and cities and transportation advances made it easier to assemble teams of people for the increasingly popular hurling and football games. Interest revived when television and other media coverage broadened their focus beyond these two games. Air travel made Ireland accessible for competitors from the USA but while this initially strengthened the popularity of handball, it subsequently contributed to its decline as a ‘national pastime’. Now positioned in a world rather than national arena, international rules began to dominate, with the international standard adopted in 1969. This required the changing the ball from the ‘Irish hardball’ to a soft rubber ball and reducing the court size to 20x40 feet. New, mainly indoor, covered courts were built and use of the ‘big alley’ declined.