Cumann na mBunscol, Áth Cliath – Source Of The Blues
In the 1958 Our Games annual, Leon MacCanna, a founder member of Cumann na mBunscol in 1928 and father of the late Peadar MacCanna, a member of FODH and Hall of Fame recipient, wrote: ‘The Dublin of the late twenties was a stronghold of foreign games. The sons of those who had harried the Tans and British military, and many of those who had been imprisoned or died for ‘the green’, did not know the way to Croke Park’.
In the same publication, he stated ‘hurling, after all, was the traditional Irish game and figured in Irish history from Cúchulainn to Cremona. Most Dublin youth knew nothing of it, and though St. Gabriel’s and Brunswick St. from the Owen Roe’s district and St. Patrick’s from Croke’s area, had teams, it was hard to get the ordinary Dubliner interested in it.’ The Dublin senior hurling team was almost entirely composed of Munster men or Kilkenny or Galway men.
The aim was to train the makings of an All-Dublin senior hurling team. From the very beginning, Cumann na mBunscol officers decided that the period from Christmas to summer every year would be dedicated to hurling. The exponential growth from 8 schools to nearly 500 has been quite phenomenal. The traditional Dublin clubs grew from the local primary schools and all the great Dublin hurlers – the Foley brothers, Achill Boothman, Jimmy Gray, Billie Jackson – played in Cumann na mBunscol leagues and finals.
Practically all players who have represented Dublin over the years are Cumann graduates and many of the current hurling and football panels played and captained their schools in Croke Park. Footballers Cian O’Sullivan, Philly McMahon and Cormac Costello were all hurling captains. All-Star, Liam Rushe led Scoil Phádraig, Lucan, to Croke Park success.
Dave Hanley, a Waterford native and teacher in Whitefriar St. was a major driver of hurling development in the early years. He was the first President of Cumann na mBunscol and Chairman from 1930 to 1933. At a time when sponsorship was difficult to secure, he started the relationship with The Evening Herald which is still valued. The Herald supplied hurleys to needy schools and presented the Herald Cup – the blue riband of Division 1 Cumann na mBunscol hurling. 2018 marks the 80th. anniversary of Corn Herald.
Dave Hanley was a man of many parts. He commentated on several hurling games on Radio Éireann, including the 1938 All-Ireland hurling final after which Mícheál Ó Hehir began his broadcasting career. This was the last time Dublin won the MacCarthy Cup. As we celebrate 90 years of Cumann na mBunscol, we remember the pioneering efforts of the great teachers from the 8 founding schools who gathered together in 100 Seville Place, headquarters of O’Tooles GAA Club in 1928. They sowed the seeds of the current thriving hurling scene in the capital. Another visit from MacCarthy to city schools would be a fitting tribute to these men and a major boost for further promotion and development of our ancient game.
Na Bunaitheoirí – Frank Cahill (St. Laurence O’Toole’s CBS), Andy Lavin (Central Models), Fionán Breathnach (Dorset St.), Geoff Keating (Star Of The Sea), Dave Kelleher (St. Patrick’s, Drumcondra), Tom Ryder (St. Gabriel’s, Aughrim St.), Bill Mullarkey (St. Mary’s Place). Leon McCann (East Wall).