Town draws up plans for Sam Maguire visitor centre

PLANS are being drawn up to create a visitor centre in West Cork dedicated to one of the GAA’s most noted figures, Sam Maguire.

The famous All-Ireland senior football trophy is named in honour of Maguire, a highly active member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) who died in 1927.

Born in February 1879 at Mallabracka, near Dunmanway, he is buried in the West Cork town’s St Mary’s cemetery.

The local GAA club and the community council are pooling their resources to build a visitor centre and hope to have it up and running within the next year.

Maguire was credited with recruiting another famed Corkman, Michael Collins, into the IRB in 1909.

The new amenity is likely to be similar to the Michael Cusack centre at Carron, in the Burren, Co Clare, which attracts a large number of tourists every year.

The centre was opened in 2007 to commemorate Cusack, a founder member of the GAA and who has a stand named after him at Croke Park.

Spokesman for Dunmanway Community Council, Tommy Collins, said they had invited tenders from consultants to conduct a feasibility study in order to outline a cultural strategy for such a visitor centre encompassing the heritage asset of the Sam Maguire theme.

Mr Collins said it was possible that the visitor centre would be erected in the grounds of the local GAA grounds, also named after Maguire.

“We have been collecting memorabilia for it and were hoping to get more from Croke Park and Thurles,” Mr Collins said.

“Realistically we would hope to open the centre within a year.”

Sam Maguire’s former homestead at Mallabracka has been restored by local businessman Pat Spillane.

In 2002, a statue of the man was unveiled as a centrepiece of a €500,000 redevelopment of the town’s square.

Local county councillor Declan Hurley said he hoped the visitor centre development would lead to a tourism boost for the town.

“The intention is to develop the Sam Maguire theme in the context of historical tourism within West Cork and to create an archive of GAA related materials, linking in with Croke Park and Thurles museums and to seek out important historicalaudio/visual recordings of GAA-related events from the RTÉ archives,” Cllr Hurley said.

“There has been a strong tradition of success of GAA in the Cork/Kerry region and there is, at least, one GAA club in every parish in Ireland.”


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