GAA launches series of events to mark Bloody Sunday centenary

GAA Museum events will run until 100th anniversary on November 21st

The GAA Museum at Croke Park has launched an extensive schedule of events to mark the centenary of Bloody Sunday later this year. Starting with the Museum Summer School this weekend, the programme will run until the 100th anniversary on November 21st.

Central to the events is the association's wish to commemorate the lives of the 14 people who died in Croke Park at a Dublin-Tipperary football challenge – including Tipp player Michael Hogan after whom the stand in the stadium is named.

Already, during the last five years there has been a graves project to ensure that the final resting place of all victims is marked.

The first event in the series, the annual Summer School, takes place this Friday 14 August from 10am-3.30pm, according to a GAA press release.


“In keeping with the Bloody Sunday commemorations, this year’s event will focus on the theme of Sport, Peace and Reconciliation, examining the role sport can play in the peace and reconciliation process and the impact that sport has on international affairs.”

Armagh All-Ireland winner Diarmuid Marsden of the Ulster GAA will be one of the speakers, on the topic, 'Using Sport to Unite Communities'. He will be followed by Dr Richard McElligott addressing, 'Atrocity and Atonement: The Civil War and the Rise of Kerry's Greatest Team'.

This will look at the role played by the GAA in healing the divisions caused by the Civil War in Kerry and how that helped to drive the four-in-a-row team of the late 1920s and early ‘30s.

It’s an era on which Dr McElligott is an expert, having written the definitive history of the GAA’s first 50 years in the county, ‘Forging a Kingdom’.

There will be further talks in the afternoon from Gareth Harper of PeacePlayers Northern Ireland on the organisation's work and NUIG professor Pat Dolan on 'Empathy as an Unsung hero in the GAA: Lessons from Paddy O Connell and the history of Barcelona FC'.

Launching the centenary events on Wednesday, GAA president John Horan said: "Bloody Sunday is a seminal moment in the history of the organisation and is the reason why the location of our main stadium will never be moved because of the historical attachment.

“People went to a GAA match and didn’t come home to their families. The GAA will announce further events in the coming weeks and we look forward to working together to mark this historic occasion and respectfully honour the victims.”

Among these events will be a new exhibition in the museum, according to Wednesday’s announced details.

“The focal point for the centenary commemorations will be a new Remembering Bloody Sunday exhibition at the GAA Museum, opening in September, which will explore the tragic events of the fateful day and their impact on Irish history through artefacts, newspaper reports, official documents, photographs, and victim stories.

"Part of this exhibition will include a specially commissioned Bloody Sunday centenary painting by artist David Sweeney, who is a former Dublin GAA senior hurling captain and the GAA's eLearning Manager at Croke Park. The painting is titled 'Transilience', which means an abrupt change or leap from one state to another."

Other events were laid out by Julianne McKeigue, the museum’s education and events manager, who is also a grand-niece of the most famous victim of Bloody Sunday, Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan.

These include: special weekly commemorative Bloody Sunday guided tours of Croke Park starting August 15th, a weekly evening ‘Mondays at the Museum’ lecture series, beginning on September 14th and featuring leading historians examining the fateful day from every angle.

A special edition of RTÉ Radio One's 'Sunday Miscellany' will also take place the GAA Museum on Saturday November 14th, focusing on Croke Park, the GAA and the events around Bloody Sunday.

The GAA Museum has also teamed up with History Ireland to host one of their Hedge Schools, titled ‘History, Memory and Bloody Sunday’ on November 18th.

Three days later there will be a commemoration on the actual centenary, which falls on a Saturday. That day is the scheduled date for the Leinster football final. As things stand any straightforward staging of a Dublin-Tipperary match is likely to be complicated by the former's possible presence in the provincial final.

The concept for the occasion, as announced last June, is that the challenge match between Dublin and Tipp in 1920 should be ‘completed’. It was fatally interrupted in the eighth minute when police and military entered the ground.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times