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Accounting for the early success of the Gaelic Athletic Association

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2016

Neal Garnham*
Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages, University of Ulster, Magee College


Writing some years after the events he was describing, Michael Cusack, the first secretary of the Gaelic Athletic Association, suggested that in its early years the ‘Association swept the country like a prairie fire’. This is perhaps a little exaggerated, but its success was striking. Eighteen months after its foundation the G.A.A. was reckoned to have 50,000 individual members. Six months later there were around 400 affiliated clubs. The relative success of the G.A.A. is particularly apparent when its progress is compared with that of two of its rival organisations. The Irish Football Association was founded in 1880. Ten years later only 124 clubs had affiliated to it. By the same date the G.A.A., founded in 1884, had 875 member clubs.

Research Article
Copyright © Irish Historical Studies Publications Ltd 2004

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