Everyone knows the name of Sam Maguire, Irish patriot and sportsman, and this year Dunmanway wants to introduce you to the man behind the cup on the 90th Anniversary of its first presentation in 1928 to the winners of the All Ireland Senior Football Final.
In March at Dunmanway’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade the town kicked off a year-long celebration of its favourite son, who was born, went to school and is buried in Dunmanway, his hometown.
Following this launch, there are eight months of events planned by 17 various community and cultural groups in the town. The programme of events is rich in different aspects including sport, history, culture, arts, education and family friendly activities. All are welcome to visit this traditional rural town and participate in the celebrations. Other activities include a Sam Maguire School Tour around Dunmanway, ringing of the Sam Maguire Community Bells and an evening of traditional music and storytelling at the restored Sam Maguire Homestead at Mallabracka, outside Dunmanway.
Newly elected GAA President, John Horan launched the celebrations. A member of the Na Fianna GAA Club in Glasnevin, he is the first Dublin native to hold office since 1924. Joining President Horan as guests of honour are Cork County Board Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy and Vice-Chairperson, Kevin O’Donovan. Tracey, from Killeagh GAA Club, made history in 2017 by becoming the first female chairperson of the Cork County Board. Kevin is a fellow West Corkonian from the Kilmeen/Kilbree GAA Club.
Sam Maguire, the man, has been celebrated in Dunmanway for many years. He was born in Mallabracka just outside Dunmanway Town and educated in Dunmanway and is synonymous with the town. He gave his name to the most coveted trophy in Irish sport in 1928 making 2018 the 90th Anniversary of the Sam Maguire Cup. Sam Maguire’s name has become the most widely known of all the Gaelic personalities in Irish sport. Dunmanway has inaugurated the Sam Maguire Community Bells at St. Mary’s Fanlobbus C of I Parish Church where Sam is buried in his honour. It hopes from the interest generated by the Sam Maguire Celebrations to develop a permanent Visitor Centre in Dunmanway to tell the story of this Irish Patriot and Sportsman.
Sam was a Protestant Nationalist and a colleague of Michael Collins in the Post Office in London and inducted Collins into the IRB. Maguire also played for London Hibernians GAA Team, which he captained. He ran the IRA’s intelligence operation in London during the War of Independence and the Treaty negotiations. He left London in 1923 when his IRA activities came to light and was deprived of his pension by the British Authorities. Employed by the Irish Post Office he was dismissed in 1924 without compensation for his political views and returned destitute to his family home in Dunmanway, which was in poor condition in 1925. He died of TB in 1927 at the age of 49 and is buried in St. Mary’s churchyard and old IRA colleagues provided a guard of honour at his graveside.
Afterwards friends and comrades banded together to preserve his memory and commissioned the famous Sam Maguire Cup modeled on the Ardagh Chalice from silversmiths Matthew J. Staunton of D’Olier Street, Dublin. The Cup was presented to the GAA to present to the winners of the All Ireland Senior Football Tournament. Kildare were the first team to win the trophy in 1928 and it was in fact replaced by a newer model in 1988.