Get in the Olympic spirit ahead of Rio
Visit the ‘Ireland’s Olympians’ exhibition at Croke Park’s GAA Museum
The exhibition, recently opened, celebrates the nation’s Olympic medalists, with a special emphasis on medal winners from 1924 when Ireland first competed as an independent nation. It also celebrates the GAA’s long history with athletics.
Supported by the Olympic Council of Ireland, it features medals and memorabilia from many of Ireland’s 26 successful Olympians, including the first medal won by Ireland post-independence by Jack B. Yeats at the 1924 Paris Games. It was awarded in the Arts & Literature Category for his painting “The Liffey Swim”. The silver medal is on loan for the duration of exhibition from the National Gallery of Ireland.
On view is the boxing medal won by John McNally in Helsinki in 1952 and Michael Carruth’s boxing gold medal won in 1992. The most recent medals from London 2012 are also included, most notably the gold medal won by Katie Taylor.
Like many other Irish-born athletes, Limerick’s John Flanagan competed for the United States and won gold in the hammer throw in 1900, 1904 and 1908. Flanagan went on to train a future Olympic hammer champion and double gold-medalist, Dr. Pat O’Callaghan. An array of trophies won by Flanagan in the early 20th century are featured, as is the gold medal won by Tom Kiely of Tipperary in 1904 for the all-round championship – the forerunner of the modern decathlon. Like many athletes of that era, Kiely won many All-Ireland athletic championships held under the auspices of the GAA.
The exhibition also includes Ronnie Delany’s tracksuit top from 1956, John Treacy’s silver medal for the marathon in 1984 and the silver medal won by Cobh’s Sonia O’Sullivan at Sydney 2000. Ireland’s sailing success at the 1980 Moscow Olympics – the country’s first and, to date, only medal for an Olympic sailing event – is remembered with the silver medal won by David Wilkins and James Wilkinson.
GAA Museum Director Niamh McCoy: “We are delighted, in conjunction with the Olympic Council of Ireland, to unveil this very special exhibition. Given the GAA’s historical connection with athletics, it is fitting that the GAA Museum showcases and celebrates the sportsmen and sportswomen who have represented Ireland and achieved success at Olympic level, providing us with iconic moments and countless memories.”
Kenneth Egan, Olympic Silver Medalist: ‘It’s a great idea for kids to be able to come in and see what actually can be achieved from hard work and dedication.”
OCI President Pat Hickey: “The GAA Museum’s outstanding “Ireland’s Olympians” exhibition is a fitting tribute to our shared sporting tradition. It is great to see so many of Ireland’s medal-winners helping to promote the Olympic Movement in Ireland by loaning their memorabilia. I hope that this exhibition will really inspire fans of the Olympic Games and Irish sport to get behind our athletes this summer.”
Ronnie Delaney, Olympic Gold Medalist: “My memories are of winning for Ireland, the flag being raised, the national anthem being played, and here you are from a small country like Ireland and you’re champion of the world. The exhibition is outstanding – it promotes the Olympic spirit and the joy of sport.”
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