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Office of Public Works and the GAA open new Exhibition in the Phoenix Park

Wed 03rd Jul

Tara Gleeson


Exhibition commemorates the links between Gaelic games and the Phoenix Park

An event to mark the playing of the GAA All-Ireland finals of 130 years ago and the opening of an exhibit to commemorate the links between our National sport and the Phoenix Park took place this morning at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre in Dublin.

Kieran O’Donnell TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), representatives of the OPW and officials from the GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association attended the opening of a new exhibit in the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre. The Exhibition entitled ‘Clann of Gaelic Games’ is a collaboration between the GAA Museum at Croke Park and the OPW, and showcases centuries of hurling, camogie and football activity in the Phoenix Park.

GAA founder Michael Cusack was inspired to establish the GAA on November 1, 1884, following his efforts over the previous year trying to revive an interest in hurling through training sessions and exhibition matches held in the Phoenix Park.

As far back as the 1700s, hurling has been played in the Park with teams having once competed on the land of the Vice Regal lodge, now Áras an Uachtaráin.

After the establishment of the GAA, the first ever inter-county match took place in the Phoenix Park in 1886 between Tipperary and Galway in hurling – the success of which is credited with encouraging the establishment of the All-Ireland senior championships the following year.

The All-Ireland Championship finals of 1893, which were not played until June 1894, were played in the Phoenix Park with Blackrock of Cork winning in hurling against Confederation of Kilkenny and Young Irelands of Wexford crowned football champions after a final against Cork’s Dromtarriffe.

While the Phoenix Park has played an important role in the sporting history of a range of sports, for the last 140 years, the Park has continued to be significant to the playing of hurling and football for clubs and schools in Dublin. This is equally so for the Camogie Association, which celebrates its 120th anniversary this year and has a long history of Phoenix Park activity. The Park is also of crucial importance to the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, which marks its 50th anniversary this year.

The exhibit in the Visitor Centre will run for the next two months while a plaque to mark the 1893 finals was unveiled outside. An oak tree was planted by Minister O’Donnell to symbolise the strength of the link between Gaelic games and the Park in the presence of children from St Brigids and St Oliver Plunkett’s GAA clubs who played exhibition games in football, hurling and camogie and GAA Games For All.

Representatives from clubs and counties who competed in the 1893 finals were in attendance.

Kieran O’Donnell TD, Minister for the OPW, said: The OPW is delighted to collaborate with the GAA in bringing this wonderful exhibition ‘Clann of Gaelic Games’ to the Phoenix Park which recognizes the importance of the Phoenix Park with the creation and the development of the GAA movement. This showcases another aspect of how the Phoenix Park has played an essential part in the lives of the people of Ireland throughout the years.”

“The ‘Clann of Gaelic Games’ exhibition launches today here in the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre and will run for the months of July and August. It is open 7 days a week from 9.30am to 5pm and admission is free – I would encourage GAA enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in Gaelic games, the Phoenix Park and its history to visit this exhibit over the summer.

Adam Staunton, GAA Museum Archivist and Collections Officer, said: The GAA Museum was delighted to work with the OPW on this project that shines a light on the close connection between the GAA and Phoenix Park. The GAA Museum looks forward to working with the OPW again in the future.”

GAA Director General, Tom Ryan, added: “You cannot tell the story of the GAA without talking about the Phoenix Park such was the pivotal role it played in the years before the GAA’s foundation, and in its formative years. The Park’s links to Gaelic games go back much further and so it is fitting that in remembering the heroes of the 1893 All-Ireland finals, played in the Park, that we also commemorate the role the Park has played for several centuries facilitating Gaelic games and the importance it continues to have as a venue for football, ladies football, camogie and hurling.

“I wish to thank Minister O’Donnell and the OPW for their support and for hosting the exhibition that has been put together by the GAA Museum in Croke Park to tell the story of Gaelic games and the Phoenix Park.”

Helen O’Rourke, Ard Stiúrthóir of the LGFA, commented: We are extremely proud of the LGFA’s association with the Phoenix Park. Even prior to the official formation of the LGFA in 1974, the Phoenix Park served as a training hub for players from various counties who were based in Dublin. It is wonderful to see this rich history and tapestry being acknowledged and recognised.”

Brian Molloy, Uachtarán of An Cumann Camógaíochta, commented: “For generations of people, the Phoenix Park has been hugely influential in their sporting lives and provided a place to play the games we love. The Park was of crucial importance to the development of Camogie for players in Dublin and for people who had come to live in Dublin, and as we celebrate the significant milestone that is our 120th anniversary, I am delighted to see that the Phoenix Park continues to be a place where women and girls can enjoy our national games, and I thank the OPW for their continuing support.”

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