The significant contribution to Irish culture by the founder of the GAA will be celebrated with the inaugural Michael Cusack Day in Carron, located in the heart of the Burren in County Clare, at midday on Sunday (20 September).
A Shane Gilmore sculpture representing the central role played by Gaelic Games in communities across the island of Ireland will be unveiled exactly 173 years on from Cusack’s birth in Carron, while 32 trees representing each county will be unveiled as part of the TOMAR Trust-funded GAA and Burren fairy trails near the Michael Cusack Cottage.
The event also will feature the launch of “Going WeLL”, a national wellness experience programme being developed nationally by the GAA to encourage people to take better care of their mental and physical health, and by so doing, to reconnect with their communities.
Going WeLL is being rolled out on a pilot outreach basis to a range of communities, schools and FET (Further Education & Training) Centres from the Michael Cusack Centre this winter, and is targeted at supporting 30 to 33 hours of additional ‘Wellbeing’ Education per annum in the Junior Cycle programme of pilot schools. The programme is a strategic partnership between the GAA, Limerick & Clare Education and Training Board, Clare County Council, POBAL, the Department of Rural & Community Development and Michael Cusack Centre Ltd – a non-profit company which operates a tourism visitor experience and centre beside Cusack’s restored homestead cottage in Carron.
“Michael Cusack Day seeks to draw on the vision of ‘Citizen Cusack’, as he was known, and to offer it as an opportunity to reflect on the contribution of a true icon of Irish culture as well as all that is good in community and society,” said Flan Garvey, Chairperson of Michael Cusack Centre Ltd.
“In his own time, Michael Cusack was born during the Great Famine and reared in poverty. Yet, he excelled in his education career and founded the GAA to reflect all that was good in the community and society of his time: hurling, football and handball and the Irish language. The context was a post-famine time of poverty and colonisation,” explained Mr. Garvey. “He drew on the inspiration of the Burren landscape for his vision of life. The GAA that he helped to establish in 1884 has since grown into the national GAA organisation that is present in every parish and community in all of Ireland and worldwide.”
“Michael Cusack Day seeks to reconnect with that vision and heritage and in the context of the challenges of COVID-19 to offer positivity in terms of physical wellbeing through GAA games, but also mental health wellbeing. This is the reason that the Going WeLL programme is being introduced to sustain the next generation in schools and communities,” he added.
Tim Madden, Project Co-Ordinator, Going WeLL Programme, Michael Cusack Centre, is managing the rollout of ‘Going WeLL’ in schools and communities across Clare and Limerick.
“The programme is particularly important in a rapidly changing society, with the unrelenting pressure of social media and an unprecedented rise in obesity, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation among young people. Ultimately, we hope it will help nurture core values and support personal growth and belonging among Ireland’s youth”, stated Mr. Madden. “Following the vision of Michael Cusack, the programme contains organised, purposeful, age-related activities and challenges that will help learners to discover who they are, foster a culture of co-operation in all aspects of their lives, and understand the dynamics and values of group behaviour.”
He continued, “They will better recognise the importance of planning to achieve success, and how to grow their minds to allow rational thinking overcome negative emotions. These will in turn foster Resilience, build Gratitude, and encourage Cooperation, with both classroom and field exercises.”
George O’Callaghan, Chief Executive of Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, commented, “The promotion of wellbeing in our schools and colleges is a vital support for our students in helping prepare them for the challenges of living in today’s world. This programme will be a welcome addition to our schools and to the communities of Clare and Limerick. Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board is delighted to partner with the other agencies in helping to develop and deliver better physical and mental health to our community. In doing so we recognise the valuable legacy of Clare native, Michael Cusack, and the huge contribution made by the GAA which he founded to improving the physical and mental wellbeing of people both locally and nationally. We welcome the inaugural Michael Cusack Day as a recognition of the vision and role played by Michael Cusack and the GAA in supporting our communities.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, commented, “We are delighted to continue our support for Michael Cusack Centre Ltd. in further developing the quality tourism experience offered in Carron, the birthplace of Michael Cusack. We look forward to the establishment of the first Michael Cusack Day and the delivery of the Going WeLL programme, which follows Michael Cusack’s vision and the GAA’s Mission of perpetuating community identity, encouraging ‘giving back’, and promoting the common good.”
The Michael Cusack Centre, the GAA trail and the Fairy Trail will be open to the public each Saturday and Sunday from 10.00am to 4.00pm throughout September and October. Pre-booking is advised. Contact 065-7089944 / firstname.lastname@example.org.