content zone archives
"speak out!" archives
vote on it
Fri 13-Mar-2009 21:47
More from this writer..
Citizen Cusack and Clare’s Gaelic Games - Part 1
To mark 125 years of the GAA, we bring you a series of articles telling the story of the Association's founder and inspiration, researched and written by Daniel McCarthy.
The writer, author of the bestselling 'The Book of Clare' and a sometimes columnist , curated the award winning Clare County Museum during its development.
Daniel McCarthy established Boru Cultural Enterprises in 2003, a historical communications consultancy which has been involved in major cultural heritage projects such as developing a touring exhibition and outreach programme for the Burren Centre which has reached over 2 million people across North America & Ireland, the documentation of the prestigious St Mel's Museum Collection in Longford, developing the Brian Boru, Emperor of the Irish exhibition and the feasibility planning for the Michael Cusack Commemoration Project.
Amongst their many and varied clients across the public and private sectors who have availed of their exhibition development, commemorative planning, outreach, research, scriptwriting and Irish translation services have been the Irish American Heritage Museum, Midas Productions, county and town councils throughout the West and Midlands, and heritage and tourism bodies and agencies across the country. This essay on Citizen Cusack featured in
Clare History & Society, eds. Pat Nugent and Matthew Lynch, Geography Publications 2008
. Danny's email is
Michael Cusack’s crowning achievement, the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association, was the culmination of a personal ten year odyssey. Yet his voyage was to continue beyond Thurles, for there was to be no Ithaca for old man Cusack, no final, happy destination. For his was a journey that was to continue on a downward social trajectory until his death. It was the Citizen Cusack that raged against this slide who Joyce encountered. It was James Joyce’s determination that he must ‘fly the net and forge in the smithy of [his] soul the conscience of [his] race’. It was the fate of Michael Cusack to forge the conscience of his race on the hurling and football fields of Ireland, and in so doing, was to become irretrievably entangled within the net of the Gaelic renaissance of the late nineteenth century.
For Joyce, history was a nightmare from which the Irish people were trying to awake. Cusack, as shall be illustrated below, was acting in a continuum of a declining civilisation. Cusack obviously made an impact upon the young Joyce’s psyche. He appears in Stephen Hero as the football fellow in the knickerbockers and in Finnegan’s Wake as Sir Micholas de Cusack, and is alluded to in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as ‘Davin, who had sat at the feet of Michael Cusack the Gael’.
Maybe it was the paralleled decline in his family’s fortunes that sparked Joyce’s intrigue with the ailing Clare schoolmaster. It has been mooted that Joyce did see a reflection of his father in the GAA’s father in their Parnellism, alcoholism and latter day poverty. He wrote to his brother Stanislaus from Zurich in 1907, ‘I suppose you saw old Cusack is dead’ soon after Michael’s death from chronic kidney disorder, a condition which Cusack’s predilection towards drink certainly did not help.
The odd smattering of Cusack’s idiosyncrasies does emerge in Joyce’s brilliant gifts of observation. The line where the citizen ‘spat a red bank oyster out of him right into the corner’ is a play on the English translation of Carranroo Bay oyster bed, less than ten miles from Cusack’s birthplace in Clare, which was owned by Burren native Joe Hynes, the proprietor of the Red Bank hostelry in Dublin’s D’Olier St, a favoured watering hole of Cusack’s.
The Clare poet and founder of Burren Perfumeries, Brian Mooney, makes convincing claims for both Cusack and Joyce as the most influential figures of modern Ireland – Joyce for his reconstruction of the English language, Cusack for his reconstruction of Irish nationalism. He writes:
In spite of the diverse nature of their achievements, one thing unites them: each in following his own intuition was being singularly true to that peculiar genius of the Celt to re-shape, shift or reinvent old forms…the life-blood of a culture is its openness to meaningful change.
To comprehend the magnificent national and sporting legacy he has bequeathed us, it is necessary to appreciate Cusack’s achievements, and the physical, emotional and intellectual environment which conditioned him. For it was the heart of Clare which beat in Michael Cusack – “Rugadh mé i bparóiste an Chairn, Boirinn, Contae an Chláir” he proclaimed to all and sundry in his Dublin years.
‘We talk just like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs…’.
Whatever Happened to….
Anyone you know in your club?
Bin Tags Don't Make a County
‘Some a’ Dem’ Lads are only Dow-en for the Showers….’
Heavenly Hurling: How the Gods pass their time...
GAA Time and Real Time
Saint Patrick and the camogie princesses
Keats and Chapman at the Munster Final
Mass, the Mater, ‘The Dergvale’ and Mullingar…
More "Content Zone" Topics >>
More "Speak Out!" Topics >>
There are 10,277 members signed up to anfearrua.com
All times are Dublin, Ireland.
Always here... with the best in GAA discussion and comment!
© An Fear Rua, 2000 - 2018
Make AFR your home page
[ Top of Page ]