1884 Foundation of the GAA
At the behest of Michael Cusack seven men met in Hayes Hotel, Thurles on November 1, 1884 and founded the Gaelic Athletic Association for the preservation and cultivation of our national pastimes. Maurice Davin was elected President, Michael Cusack, John Wyse Power and John McKay elected Secretaries and Archbishop Thomas William Croke, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt were asked to become patrons.
1887 Split and Reconstruction
The GAA split along political lines with one faction supporting the physical force IRB and the other the Irish Parliamentary Party. Matters came to a head at the 1887 Annual Congress when the IRB candidate, Edward Bennett, defeated Maurice Davin for the Presidency. Scanlon, who favoured the Home Rule faction, left the Annual Congress and announced his intention to form a rival athletic association - one that would pledge allegiance to the National League. Archbishop Croke brought both sides together and at a Special Congress, in January 1888, Maurice Davin was re-elected as President of the GAA.
1888 American Invasion Tour
One of the main ideas considered by the founders of the GAA was the revival of the ancient Tailteann Games, An Aonach Tailteann. The GAA decided to host the games in Dublin in 1889 and estimated that £5,000 would be required for such a venture. To raise the capital a group of 50 Irish athletes embarked on a fundraising tour of Irish centres in America staging displays of hurling and athletics and international contests between Ireland and America. However, terrible weather and infighting between the two athletic organisations in America resulted in low attendances and gate receipts. The GAA had to borrow £450 from Michael Davitt to bring the party home and up to 17 members remained in America. While the tour was a financial failure it did arouse interest in Gaelic Games amongst the Irish and Irish-Americans.
1913 Purchase of Croke Park
At the GAA’s 1905 Annual Convention the decision was taken to erect a memorial in honour of Archbishop Thomas William Croke, First Patron of the GAA, who died in 1902. Between 1905 and 1913 fund-raising for this memorial was sporadic at best but in 1913 a ‘Croke Memorial Tournament’ (Hurling and Football) was held which resulted in a profit of £1,872, to be used for the memorial. Using these funds the GAA decided to purchase Jones' Road Sports Ground from Frank Dineen for £3,500. They re-named the grounds ‘Croke Park’ in honour of Archbishop Croke.
1916 GAA Involvement
Although not officially involved, many members of the GAA took part in the Rising. GAA activities throughout the country came to a halt as many of the Association's members were imprisoned. In 1916 the GAA entered the ‘political arena’ when it agreed to send a delegation to a Dublin Corporation conference for the purpose of forming a Political Prisoners Amnesty Association. After the 1916 Rising the British Authorities severely curtailed the movement of traffic throughout Ireland and this included trains taking people to Croke Park. The finances of the GAA suffered severely as a result.
1918 Gaelic Sunday
In 1918 the British Authorities informed Luke O’Toole that no hurling or football games would be allowed unless a permit was obtained from Dublin Castle. The GAA, at their meeting of July 20 1918, unanimously agreed that no such permit be applied for under any conditions and that any person applying for a permit, or any player playing in a match in which a permit had been obtained, would be automatically suspended from the Association. In a further act of defiance the Council organised a series of matches throughout the country for Sunday August 4 1918. Matches were openly played throughout the country with an estimated 54,000 members taking part. This became known as Gaelic Sunday.
1920 Bloody Sunday
The Dublin football team was scheduled to play Tipperary, in Croke Park, on November 21, 1920 and the proceeds of this ‘great challenge match’ were to be donated to the Irish Republican Prisoners' Fund. The night before Michael Collins sent his ‘Squad’ out to assassinate the ‘Cairo Gang’, a team of undercover British agents working and living in Dublin. A series of shootings took place throughout the night which left 14 members of the British Forces dead. In reprisal the British Military entered Croke Park and opened fire killing 14 people.
1924 Tailteann Games
With the end of the Civil War the Irish Provisional Government decided to stage the Tailteann Games (due to take place in 1922 but postponed due to the outbreak of the Civil War) with Croke Park as the main centre of activity. The GAA was given a grant of £10,000 to refurbish Croke Park for the event, out of which they purchased a new stand, The Hogan Stand. Although the Tailteann Games were staged again in 1928 and 1932, the 1924 games are considered the most successful.
1929 Death of Luke O’Toole
Luke O’Toole, General Secretary, died of influenza on the 17th of July 1929. In November he was succeeded by Pádraig Ó Caoimh.
1938 Removal of Dr. Hyde as President of Ireland
In December 1938 the GAA removed Douglas Hyde, President of Ireland, as a Patron of the Association. Hyde had broken the GAA’s “exclusion/foreign games rule’ by attending (in an official capacity) the Ireland v Poland International soccer match in Dalymount Park, Dublin.
1939-1945 The GAA and World War II
Travel and fuel restrictions during World War II severely curtailed the playing of Gaelic games. The GAA in Britain continued to play their championships against all the odds.