The Celtic Times:
Michael Cusack's Gaelic Games Newspaper 1887
CLASP Press, 364 pp, Price: €75,
ISBN: 1 90054 514 4
Sport and politics are old bed-fellow
really and the GAA is the most mentioned in this sense, as if the pathetic
'Ireland's Call' was not big-P political. Just how political it was in
its inception is no longer in dispute. One of the prime movers was Michael
Cusack, so often referred to simply as Joyce's 'Citizen' (the 'saoran'
of one of the story endings also, perhaps). Now Cusack ran a weekly paper
aimed unyieldingly 'for the Preservation and Culturation of the Language,
Music and Pastimes of the Celtic Race', which lasted for a year from early
Copies of the paper were not known to
have survived, and the story of its retention and resurrection as it were
is recounted here by Breandán Mac Lua, who was given 'the complete
file' by Dublin's Cathedral-street publican Tommy Moore. There were, apparently,
some issues which did not survive.
Cusack had fallen fould of his own organisation,
being dismissed from its executive in July 1886. The Celtic Times
was his organ for his side of the story and for his beliefs.
Instead of giving us an account of the
paper and its brief life and times - mediated by the inevitable bias in
choice of editors - the publishers had the brilliant idea of what is in
effect a bound facsimile copy of the original: not mediation, no apology,
And a fascinating read it is, ranging
from games reports through organisational politics to advocacy of regular
shinty and hurling games. Athletics too - he had been a champion athlete
himself - a version of Father O'Flynn by a T. Mac Sweeney (who he?); a
letter from T. O Russell in the roman alphabet animadverting on the antiquarianism
of the use of the old 'gaelic' script and font; letters from Hyde and
'Caoch Ó Laoghaire', and one in Irish from a William Russell in
the USA. But he also reported on the various industrial movement, trades
associations and clubs, including the still extant workingmen's club on
Dublin's Wellington Quay.
An art column advocated innovation, saying
in effect that the imitation of old masters was sterile of itself.
Most will enjoy perhaps the flavour of
controversy as when Cusack himself satirises the 'OO' as he called it
- the Official Organ of the GAA. Maybe Joyce did read it!
The Celtic Times