NUI Galway is currently running an online exhibition of unique personal material relating to the founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Michael Cusack. 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.
In 2007 the nieces of Michael 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.
Fergus Fahey, Digitalisation Librarian at NUI Galway, said: “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. It also provides an unparalleled insight into the resilient personality of Cusack, the private family man, and his vibrant and gentle wit.”
Croke Park's famous Cusack Stand takes its name from Michael Cusack (1847–1906), one of eight men present at the founding of the GAA in Hayes's Commercial Hotel, Thurles, Co. Tipperary on 1 November 1884. Cusack was appointed honorary secretary of the new organisation, whose aim was to promote and codify Gaelic games. Prior to the founding of the GAA Cusack had founded the short-lived Dublin Hurling Club in February 1883 and Metropolitan Hurling Club in December 1883.
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.
The Michael Cusack collection is available to view at http://archives.library.nuigalway.ie/cusack/.