Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Michael Cusack Papers - New Online Exhibition

Croke Park's famous Cusack Stand takes its name from Michael Cusack (1847–1906), one of eight men present at the founding of the G.A.A. in Hayes's Commercial Hotel, Thurles, Co. Tipperary on 1 November 1884.  Cusack was appointed honourary secretary of the new organisation, whose aim was to promote and codify Gaelic games.   Prior to the founding of the G.A.A. Cusack had founded the short-lived Dublin Hurling Club in February 1883 and Metropolitan Hurling Club in December 1883.

In 2007 the nieces of Cusack's daughter in law Kathleen O'Connell donated a collection of documents and photographs associated with Cusack and his family to the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway.   Among the most important historical items in the collection are the complete minutes of the Dublin Hurling Club, from 1883. Cusack was Vice-President of the club, a predecessor to the national organisation founded the following year. In addition, there is a diary kept by Cusack on a visit to his native Clare in 1902 and a range of personal, biographical and photographic material on Cusack's family.   Many of these items are now available as part of this online exhibition created by the NUI Galway's Library archives service.  This is one of a number of digital resources and exhibitions created by the archives service to promote access to its valuable collections.

As well as his involvement in Gaelic sport, Michael Cusack a teacher by profession was a prolific journalist, contributing to titles such as United Ireland, Celtic Times, Shamrock, Fáinne an Lae and The Nation.  Many of these titles are available in the James Hardiman Library's Special Collections .  It is generally suggested that James Joyce's "Citizen" in the Cyclops chapter of Ulysses, is based on Michael Cusack.  However the character could also be seen as a caricature of the nationalist-militarist type and as critique of the "cult of Cú Chulainn", not as a depiction of Cusack himself derived from personal acquaintance. Patricia O'Connell (one of Kathleen O'Connell's nieces) wrote that "his nationalistic outlook may not have endeared him to James Joyce, who was a man of the Pale."

 Further reading:

James Quinn. "Cusack, Michael". Dictionary of Irish Biography. (ed.) James McGuire, James Quinn. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Cronin, M., Murphy, W., Rouse,P.(eds.)  Gaelic Athletic Association, 1884-2009, Irish Academic Press, Dublin; Portland, OR.,2009.  

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