A BRONZE bust of GAA founder Michael Cusack has been unveiled at his birthplace in County Clare.
Former president of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese revealed the Cusack Bronze Head Bust, which has been designed by artist Paul Flynn, who hails from Bray in Co. Wicklow.
It is situated at the Michael Cusack Centre in the heart of the Burren.
The centre is located at the site of the cottage where Cusack was born, which has since been developed into a popular visitor attraction.
Ms McAleese, who was Ireland’s president from 1997 to 2011, was joined by representatives of Clare GAA, Munster GAA, Clare County Council, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, Elected Members, and members of the local community for the unveiling.
The event was part of the ongoing Cusack 175 initiative, a year-long celebration marking the 175-year anniversary of Cusack’s birth on September 20, 1847.
Speaking at the event, Ms McAleese said: “Who would have given tuppence for a child, any child born in Ireland in Black 47, the worst year of the Irish famine.
“Mass deaths and mass immigration left clouds of bleak depression and grief hanging over our country for generations.
“Yet in that very year a child was born here in Carron who would help our people at home and abroad navigate a remarkable pathway to hope and light.
“We call that pathway the GAA and that child was Michael Cusack.”
She added: “Through a unique meld of sport, community, culture and a fierce belief in unselfish service to the nation, Cusack introduced Ireland to its best self and to the sheer sporting exuberance Gaelic games generate wherever in the world they are played.
“His legacy simply gets better year on year.”
Councillor Ann Norton, Leas Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, also spoke at the event, reminding those gathered that “everything begins with an idea”.
“Michael Cusack, through his promotion of Gaelic Games, established an Irish sporting and cultural institution,” she added.
“Cusack’s dream of a Gaelic Athletic Association became a reality almost 140 years ago when he and a group of spirited Irishmen had the foresight to establish a national organisation that would make our traditional, indigenous sports more accessible to the masses.
“Here in Carron, Michael Cusack’s place of birth, it is right and proper that his legacy be commemorated and celebrated.”
Cllr Norton also acknowledged Ms McAleese’s recent appointment as independent Chairperson of the integration process between the Camogie Association, the GAA, and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association.
“The integration towards a One Association model marks a new chapter in the storied history of the GAA,” she said.
“It is an endeavour that I am sure Michael Cusack would have been supportive of.”
Guided tours of the Michael Cusack Centre are available every day from 10am. The visitor attraction features the original Cusack Famine-era cottage, a 6km Cusack Way Walk, a recently developed Fairy Trail and Púca artwork.
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