Tuesday, September 17, 2013

G.A.A. - From Founding Father to International Tournament: Hurling in the West

All-Ireland Final season in both codes is in full swing at the moment and while our neighbours in the West, Mayo and Clare await to face off against Dublin and Cork in their respective finals, another celebration of G.A.A. will be taking place right here in Galway. 

Aer Lingus is inviting teams from all over the world to compete in the first ever International Hurling Festival. The best hurlers from the USA, South America, Canada, the UK, Continental Europe, the Middle East and Australia will descend on Galway for a three-day festival of ceol, craic and culture, as well as the first hurling competition of its kind. The tournament will feature sixteen International teams competing in four groups of four, with the eventual winners crowned in Galway’s legendary Pearse Stadium. In support of The Gathering, Aer Lingus want to bring hurling fans from all over the world home to celebrate our national game in what promises to be one of the most unique and exciting sporting events of 2013. Teams will be hosted in Loughrea, Gort, Ballinasloe and Galway West. Qualifying games will take place on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th September with the final taking place in Pearse Stadium on Saturday the 21st of September. 

Here at the Hardiman Library, we proudly hold a wonderful collection of material relating to Michael Cusack. The Michael Cusack collection is the unique personal collection of the founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), generally acknowledged to be the greatest amateur sporting organisation in the world. The GAA, which remains a dominant force in Ireland's cultural and sporting life, was founded in 1884 as a highly influential element of the Irish cultural renaissance of the late nineteenth century and of Ireland's struggle to re-establish its own political, linguistic and cultural identity. 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. 

Also of interest is a photograph (below) of the young Michael Cusack, pictured as part of the Trinity College rugby team at the Phoenix rugby club, with Cusack seated second from left. Aside from its value for researchers into the cultural forces at work in that seminal period, and in particular the events leading up to the foundation of the GAA, the collection is unique in constituting the only known surviving material in Cusack's own hand and also in affording an unparalleled insight into the resilient personality of Cusack, the private family man, and his vibrant and gentle wit. 

You can view a digital showcase of the Michael Cusack archive in an online exhibition here

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