A community council has restored a once-derelict cottage which was the birthplace of the first patron of the GAA, Archbishop Thomas William Croke, and plans to turn it into a museum.
Dr Croke, who gave his name to Croke Park, was born in the cottage at Castlecor, Kilbrin, Co Cork, in 1824.
It had been lying derelict since the late 1970s and Kilbrin Community Council began a rescue mission.
In 2012, they discovered the owner was John O’Connell, from Dromina, 14km away.
He generously sold it to the council for €1 and they immediately launched their refurbishment plans.
“It was quite obvious it was in a perilous state and in danger of collapsing. We set in motion our plans for the refurbishment and contacted IRD Duhallow,” said chairman Tom O’Riordan. “We received great encouragement from their chief executive Maura Walsh and her staff, to which we are very grateful.”
On their advice, the council employed Kevin Blackwood Conservation Architects to oversee the project, while PJ Lane Construction carried out the building work.
Niall O’Sullivan, PRO; Tom O’Riordan, Chairman; Esther Hayes, Treasurer, Frank Hayes, and John Corkery, works manager and vice -chairman Kilbrin Community Council outside the renovated cottage.
“We secured a grant for portion of the cost, which was a considerable sum, from IRD Duhallow,” said Mr O’Riordan. “We immediately began a huge effort to fundraise and secured a goodly sum through sponsorship of doors, windows and slates. We are indebted to all the people who made contributions.
“However, though a momentous task we feel it was a worthwhile project and we are proud have helped to keep his memory alive for the coming generations.”
The council is now putting together a memorabilia collection on the life, times and legacy of Dr Croke.
When his father died, the family moved to the residence of his uncle, who was the parish priest of Charleville. At 16, he won a scholarship to the Irish College in Paris and completed his training for the priesthood in Rome.
He travelled extensively for a number of years and as a result of his brother’s death he returned to Charleville as curate. He later served as curate in Midleton and Mallow and then parish priest in Doneraile. He was one of those who attended the 1884 meeting in Thurles where the GAA was founded.
The president of the GAA, Aogan O’Fearghail, will be amongst a number of dignitaries who will attend the official opening of the building on Saturday, October 10.
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