Introduction. At a meeting of the Irish Cyclists’ Association, held in Dublin on Thursday, 22 January 1885, standing orders were suspended
‘to discuss some matters relative to the Gaelic Athletic Association, which had recently come into existence’.
The members present agreed to oppose Cusack’s sporting organisation, which, in their opinion was of a highly political nature. It had, they believed, been set up by Cusack to dominate Irish athletics, and they refused to be bound by his rules. The chairman of the Association, J. A. Christian, sent a circular to members to alert them that
‘matters of the most urgent and pressing importance to the athletic community in Ireland’
would be discussed at a meeting on Saturday 24 1885. The Freeman’s Journal carried a report about the meeting the next day. The reporter criticised members of the Cyclist’s Association for going against such influential people as Croke and Parnell.
Source. Freeman’s Journal, 25 January 1885.
CYCLISTS’ MEETING, 24 JANUARY 1885
The Chairman, Mr. J. A. H. Christian, said they wished to disabuse the minds of any people who might think or endeavour to lead others to believe that they were opposed to the Gaelic Athletic Union, but they were strongly opposed to this body newly formed attempting to govern Irish athletics. They wanted to govern and manage their own sports and let the Gaelic Athletic Association govern and draw up rules applicable to the sports and pastimes they wished to revive, and which everyone wished to see successful. At any rate they could not allow themselves to be dictated to, or bossed in the way proposed.
Mr T. Ashley (Dundalk) proposed the following resolution:—That whereas a self constituted body, calling itself the Gaelic Athletic Association has been formed; and whereas this Association has for its Hon. Sec. Mr Michael Cusack, and is formed on political lines; and whereas this association at a meeting held at Thurles on the 17th instant, at which seven gentlemen were present, passed rules presuming to dictate to the whole body of Irish athletes, it is now resolved that in the opinion of this meeting, the Gaelic Athletic Association does not command the confidence of Irish athletes, and that this meeting refuses to recognise the right of such an unrepresentative meeting to make laws governing athletes in Ireland. It appeared a monstrous thing, he said, that seven gentlemen should go and pass rules at Thurles for the athletes of Ireland. Mr. J. S. Berry seconded the resolution which was adopted unanimously. …
Mr J. C. Beatty then proposed; That in the opinion of this meeting of hon. secs. and representatives of Irish athletic clubs, it is necessary that an Amateur Association be immediately formed, and that the hon secs. of the meeting be instructed to write to the hon. secs. of each athletic club in Ireland, requesting him to send representatives of his club to a meeting to be held on a date fixed by the committee for the purpose of forming such an association in Ireland. In seconding the resolution, Mr. G. H. Christian said that they had been forced to take the present steps. The G.A.A., he said, went directly contrary to the Amateur Athletic Association in allowing amateurs and professionals to compete at the same meetings. There was the fundamental axiom that the laws should be made by the people to be governed by them, but the G.A.A. had the audacity to come forward and make laws, forcing them on Irish athletes, and anyone who did not conform to the rules laid down by the largely attended meeting at Thurles would not be allowed to compete after the 17th March. If such a thing were allowed to go on, athletics would soon die. The G.A.A. was formed on what must be called national lines, but they had an objection to sport being mixed up with athletics. He had no objection to the G.A.A. in its proper sphere.
FREEMAN’S JOURNAL’S RESPONSE, 25 JANUARY 1885
We do not know that it (the GAA) seeks to interfere with any other association, but if the bicyclists of Dublin imagine that they are going to quash the Archbishop of Cashel, Mr Parnell, and Mr Davitt, because these gentlemen desire to promote Irish athletics, and to secure a due recognition in athletic programmes of those manly exercises in which Irishmen have from time immemorial excelled, we take the liberty of telling them that they are very much mistaken.