The 175th anniversary of the birth of Michael Cusack has been celebrated this morning (Saturday, 17 September 2022) at the Michael Cusack Centre in Carron, the County Clare home of the founder of the GAA.
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy joined Leas Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Cllr. Ann Norton, representatives from Munster GAA, Clare GAA, Clare Camogie, Clare LGFA, The Chair of Leinster GAA, LCETB, Clare County Council, Fáilte Ireland and the local community in the heart of the Burren for the first in a series of Cusack 175 commemorative events.
Mr. McCarthy unveiled a memorial plaque and planted an ash tree in Cusack’s honour outside the cottage in which he is born and has since been developed into a popular visitor attraction. On Tuesday next, exactly 175 years on from the day Cusack was born, the GAA President will lay a wreath at Cusack’s grave in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, while members of Clare GAA and representatives of the Michael Cusack Centre will place a wreath at the foot of Cusack’s statue outside Cusack Park in Ennis.
Born the 20th of September 1847, Michael Cusack’s love for education, Irish culture and sport led to the foundation of what is today the world’s largest amateur sporting organisation. The GAA that he helped to establish in 1884 has since developed a presence in every parish and community in all of Ireland and worldwide.
Leas Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Cllr. Ann Norton said, “‘Citizen Cusack’, as he was known, is a true icon of Irish culture and reflects all that is good about the community and society of his time, namely the Irish language, Gaelic Games, and promoting Irish culture and tradition through education. This commemoration is recognition of the vision and role played by Michael Cusack and the GAA in supporting our communities.”
Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy said, “The GAA today is an integral part of Irish life, deeply rooted in communities through more than 1,600 clubs in Ireland and more than 450 clubs around the globe. It is a lasting legacy and tribute to the work of Michael Cusack and the passion and energy which he brought to the formation of the GAA.”
“We will be hosting a series of Cusack 175 events right up to September 2023,” stated Dónal Ó hAiniféin, Chair of the Board of Michael Cusack Centre. “We are inviting anybody, of every GAA persuasion, to come to visit. It is a bit like connecting ‘where we all belong’ to ‘where it all began’. Carron is the fabled story of where the GAA began.”
“Though born during the Great Famine and reared in poverty, Cusack drew on the inspiration of the Burren landscape for his vision of life. The relevance of Cusack’s work in the area of Irish culture and our native language is still being passed through the generations. Stories continue to be told and that is one of the main themes during the festivities held in Carron today,” added Mr. Ó hAiniféin.
Today’s event featured musical entertainment and lectures on Michael Cusack’s contribution to Irish cultural life. Among those addressing today’s gathering was Brother Seán McNamara – a retired Christian Brother – who is 95 and a specialist on the life of Michael Cusack. Brother Seán has a collection of the Michael Cusack life story and papers, which he has bequeathed to the Michael Cusack Centre.
Award-winning local oral historian and author Tomás Mac Conmara addressed the impact of Michael Cusack – where he was born, the landscape, and how that impacted on him. Meanwhile, Clare-based journalist and author Joe Ó Muircheartaigh spoke about Cusack as a ‘Celtic Visionary’ and ‘Newspaper Man’, referencing Cusack’s role as co-Editor of the Celtic Times newspaper.
Musical entertainment was provided on the day by the Jones Family, Andrew Stafford and Comhaltas Cora Finne.
Guided tours of the Michael Cusack Centre are available each day from 10.00am. Located in the centre of the award-winning Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, the visitor attraction features the original Cusack cottage, the 6km Cusack Way Walk, a recently developed Fairy Trail and the much talked about Púca artwork. The attraction also hosts team building weekends, wedding ceremonies, school tours and is currently piloting an innovative community-based wellbeing programme called ‘Going WeLL Clare’. Visit www.michaelcusack.ie for more.