Michael Cusack (1847-1906) was an Irish nationalist best known as being the founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Born in the Burren, County Clare to an Irish-speaking family, Cusack worked as a National School teacher. A romantic and cultural nationalist sympathetic to the Fenians, Cusack lamented at the anglicisation and decline of native Irish athletics. In 1879, a famous meeting in Dublin’s Phoenix Park with Pat Nally, an IRB man and Connacht athlete, led to the founding of several National Athletic Sports meetings across the country in order to “make an effort to preserve the physical strength of the Irish race”. On October 11, 1884, Cusack published an article titled “A word about Irish athletics”, which was featured in several nationalist organs, which proved so influential that several weeks after its publication, on 1 November, the Gaelic Athletic Association would be founded by Cusack and Maurice Davin in Thurles, County Tipperary. Cusack was also involved in the Irish language movement and the wider Gaelic revival culture as a whole. He would die of a heart attack in 1906, aged just 59.
A Word About Irish Athletics (1884)