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Gaelic Athletic Association

  • Date Submitted: 11/21/2010 12:17 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.1 
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1. Michael Cusack and the promotion of Irish games.

The man who helped to develop distinctively Irish games was Michael Cusack (1847–1907). A native of Carron, Co. Clare, he qualified as a national school-teacher, and later joined the civil-service. He was greatly interested in Gaelic culture, language and literature. An athlete in his youth, he was also interested in Irish games. He organised athletics in Dublin where he worked as a civil servant. Cusack believed that Irish games were in danger of dying out. Athletics in particular, witnessed a decline in participants. Athletes were then under the control of the English Amateur Athletics Association. Rugby was seen as typically English and was getting popular in Irish towns. Football, also popular in towns, was thought to be more like English soccer than the traditional ‘Gaelic’ football. Hurley, a version of hurling played in Dublin, was more like hockey than hurling. Cusack wanted to revive Irish games and promote an Irish Ireland. He wrote in the Freeman’s Journal in 1885 that he wished to ‘nationalise and democratise sport in Ireland’. He persuaded some hurley players to join a Dublin Hurling Club which was established in December 1882. This led to tensions between the hurley players and the hurlers and the club folded in a year. Cusack founded another club in its place, the Metropolitan Hurling Club, in December 1883. This had more success and the Metropolitan was one of the first clubs to be affiliated to the later GAA.
Cusack now considered founding a national organisation to preserve Irish games, and published anonymous articles about this in nationalist newspapers. On 11 October 1884, the papers published his article ‘A Word About Irish Athletics’. Here Cusack appealed to the Irish people to reject English sports and customs, which he described as ‘imported and enforced’. He believed they would destroy Irish nationality. He condemned the holding of athletic meetings in Ireland under the rules of...

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