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Gaelic Athletic Association

The Gaelic Athletic Association (Cumann Luthchleas Gael), or GAA, is an organisation which is mostly focussed on promoting Irish sports, such as hurling, gaelic football, rounders and camogie, though it also promotes Irish music, dance and the Irish language.

The man directly invloved in the founding of the G.A.A was a Clareman, Michael Cusack. Born in 1847 Cusack went on to pursue a career as a teacher in Blackrock College. In 1877 he set up his own cramming school, the Civil Service Academy, to prepare students for examinations into the British Civil Service. 'Cusack's Academy' as it was known and its pupils did extremely well with the result that the numbers attending it soared. Pupils at the Academy were incouraged to get involved in all forms of physical exercise and, as a language enthusiast, Cusack was troubled by falling standards in specifically Irish games. To remedy this situation and to re-establish hurling as the national pastime, Cusack set up the G.A.A on the first of November 1884 in Hayes's Hotel, Thurles. Of the seven men present at the inaugural meeting it has been estimated that four were members of the I.R.B (Irish Republican Brotherhood).

Aims of the G.A.A

Within a few weeks of the foundation of the association Archbishop Croke of Cashel gave it his approval and became its first patron. Its other patrons included both Davitt and Parnell. Cusack was a difficult man to get along with but in the first few months of the organisation he proved to be an excellent organiser. Cusack did not, however continue to run the association for long after its foundation. Within eighteen months he was obliged to resign as a result of his failure to submit accounts for auditing. Archbishop Croke introduced a new rule which forbade members of the G.A.A from playing 'foreign and fantastic games' such as tennis, polo, and croquet.

The G.A.A in the Twentieth Century Up to the turn of the century most of the members were farm labourers, small farmers, barmen or shop assistants. But from 1900 onwards a new type of person - those who were now being influenced by the Gaelic League (1893) - joined the movement. They tended to be clerks, school teachers or civil servants. In 1922 it passed over the job of promoting athletics to the National Athletic and Cycling Association.

The Achievements of the G.A.A

The G.A.A Today The G.A.A is the largest amateur sports association in Ireland. The G.A.A controls more than 3,000 member clubs and controls about 500 grounds throughout Ireland.

Important Dates of the GAA

Major GAA stadia: