Dr. Croke’s Letter
It could have been written last week.
At the founding of the association the following letter was received from the Most Rev. T. W. Croke, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly:
____________________ ____________________ ____________________ _____
The Palace, Thurlas,
December 18th, 1884
My Dear Sir – I beg to acknowledge the receipt of you communication inviting
me to become patron of the Celtic Athletic Association, of which you are it appears, the Hon. Secretary.
I accede to your request with the utmost pleasure.
One of the most painful, let me assure you, and at the same time, one of the most frequently recurring, reflections that, as an Irishman, I am compelled to make in connection with the present aspect of things in this country, is derived from the ugly and irritating fact, that we are daily importing from England, not only her manufactured goods, which we cannot help doing, since she has practically strangled our own manufacturing appliances, but together with her fashions, her accents, her vicious literature, her music, her dances and her manifold mannerisms, her games also, and her pastimes, to the utter discredit of our own national sports, and to the sore humiliation, as I believe, of every genuine son and daughter of the old land.
Ball-playing, hurling, football-kicking according to Irish rules, ‘casting,’ leaping in various ways, wrestling, handy-grips, top-pegging, leap-frog, rounders, tip-in-the-hat, and all such favourite exercises and amusements amongst men and boys may now be said to be not only dead and buried, but in several localities to be entirely forgotten and unknown. And what have we got in their stead? We have got such foreign and fantastic field sports as lawn tennis, polo, croquet, cricket, and the like – very excellent, I believe, and health-giving exercises in their way, still not racy of the soil, but rather alien, on the contrary, to it, as are indeed, for the most part, the men and women who first imported, and still continue to patronise them.
And, unfortunately, it is not our national sports alone that are held in dishonour and are dying out, but even our most suggestive national celebrations are being gradually effaced and extinguished, one after another as well. Who hears now of the snap-apple night, pan-cake night, or bon-fire night? They are all things of the past, too vulgar to be spoken of except in ridicule by the degenerate dandies of the day. No doubt, there is something rather pleasing to the eye in the get-up of a modern man, who arrayed in light attire, with parti-colured cap on and a racquet in hand, making his way, with or without a companion, to the tennis ground. But for my part, I should vastly prefer to behold, or think of, the youthful athletes whom I used to see in my early days at the fair and pattern, bereft of shoes and coat, and thus prepared to play handball, to fly over any number of horses, to throw the ‘sledge’ or ‘winding-stone’ and to test each other’s metal and activity by the trying ordeal of ‘three leaps’ or a ‘hop, step and hump’.
Indeed if we continue travelling for the next score years in the same direction that we have been gong in for some time past, condemning the sports that were practised by our forefathers, effacing our national features as though we were ashamed of them, and putting on, with England’s stuffs and broadcloths, her masher habits and such other effeminate follies as she may recommend, we had better at once, and publicly, abjure our nationality, clap hands for joy at the sight of the Union Jack, and place ‘England’s bloody red’ exultantly above the green.
Deprecating as I do any such dire and disgraceful consummation, and seeing in your society of athletes something altogether opposing to it, I shall be happy to do for it all I can, and authorise you now formally to place my name on the role of patrons.
In conclusion, I earnestly hope that our national journals will not disdain in future to give suitable notices of these Irish sports and pastimes which your Society means to patronise and promote, and that the masters and pupils of our Irish Colleges will not henceforth exclude from their athletic programmes such manly exercises as I have just referred to and commemorated.
I remain, my dear Sir,
Your very faithful servant,
Archbishop of Cashel.
To: Mr. Michael Cusack
Hon. Sec. of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón
Last edited by Maidhcí Boy; 28-03-2008 at 01:04 PM..