Remembering Michael Cusack
Michael Cusack was born to Irish speaking parents, in the parish of Carran on the eastern fringe of the Burren, County Clare, in 1847, during the Great Hunger.
In 1877, Cusack established his own Civil Service Academy, 'Cusack's Academy' in Dublin which proved successful in preparing pupils for the civil service examinations.
Cusack was very much involved in the Galic revival movement and became a member of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language which was founded in 1876, and later the Gaelic League who in 1879 broke away from the Society, its through the Gaelic league that it's believed that Cusak became involved with the Fenian movement.
In 1879, Cusack met Pat Nally, who was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and a keen athlete. Cusack found that Nally's views on the influence of British landlordism on Irish athletics were the same as his so they both decided to set up sporting activity days.
Nally organised a National Athletics Sports meeting in County Mayo in September 1879 which was a success, with Cusack organising a similar event which was open to 'artisans' in Dublin the following April.
On 1 November 1884, Cusack together with Maurice Davin, of Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, called a meeting in Hayes' Commercial Hotel, Thurles, County Tipperary, and founded the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Davin was elected president and Cusack became its first secretary.
The GAA would become the largest sporting body in the country and became central in Ireland's fight for freedom.
Cusack continued his interest in the Irish language founding The Celtic Times in 1887, a weekly newspaper which focused on 'native games' and Irish culture.
Cusack was a colourful character and his manner, dress and general deportment made him impossible to ignore. He was the model for ‘the Citizen’ in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Michael Cusack died in Dublin on November 27th 1906. If ever you visit Croke Park there is a statue to the great man as you enter the Cusack stand which is named in his honour.