The statue of GAA founding father Maurice Davin outside Davin Park unveiled during the June Bank Holiday Weekend is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction in Carrick-on-Suir.
American tourists have already been spotted viewing the impressive limestone sculpture of the GAA’s first president, who was also a world renowned track & field athlete in the late 19th century.
Maurice Davin Memorial Committee Chairman Bobby Fitzgerald said information plaques about Davin will be erected next to the statue to inform visitors about the great man. The nine-foot statues is illuminated at night by lights installed at its base.
Meanwhile, the Maurice Davin Memorial Committee has donated a miniature replica of the sculpture along with the green cloak made by Marion Organ from Carrick-on-Suir that covered the statue before its unveiling to South Tipperary County Museum.
The two items will be displayed at the Museum as part of its permanent Maurice Davin exhibition that feature’s Davin’s rowing boat, The Cruiscin, which he won many regatta races in.
The miniature replica of the statue was presented to County Museum Curator Marie McMahon at the opening of the exhibition of Maurice Davin and local GAA clubs’ memorabilia at The Carraig Hotel after the statue unveiling on June 1.
The replica, which was included in The Carraig Hotel show, was crafted by the statue’s sculptor Barry Wrafter and used by him as a guide during the year he worked on the commission.
At the exhibition opening, Maurice Davin’s grand nephew Pat Walsh gave a detailed account of the stories of Davin’s sporting achievements and exploits behind the exhibition’s key attractions that included a display of sports cups and a selection of weights and hammers used by Davin in athletics competitions.
Mr Walsh recalled how GAA co-founder Michael Cusack described his grand uncle as a “deep thinking person who possessed the qualities of good leadership”. He was a man, who was able to see far beyond his time and threw all his zeal into the organisation for the revival of athletics and native games.
“I am delighted a statue has been erected to his memory in his hometown where he gave 60 to 70 years of his life devoted to athletics and the GAA. He didn’t do it for any honour or glory but for the enjoyment he got from it. He was a man who had a wonderful life.”
Mr Walsh was one of between 60 and 70 relatives of Maurice Davin, who attended the unveiling of the statue by GAA President Liam O’Neill. RTE News Political Editor David Davin-Power was among the contingent of family members to travel to Carrick-on-Suir for the celebrations.
Other visiting relatives were John and Jane Davin from Rathfarnham, who said the Festival was a wonderful occasion and the statue was a great gesture from the local community and GAA.
John, a great grandnephew of Maurice Davin, said it was only since the publication of Seamus O’Riain’s book about Maurice Davin that the GAA had been able to fully learn his amazing contribution to the organisation. He felt renaming of the Canal End of Croke Park as the Davin Stand in 2005 had also greatly increased public awareness and knowledge of him.
Eighty commemorative medallions, created by Cahir based jeweller PJ Quirke, were presented during the Maurice Davin Festival.
Among the recipients were members of the Waterford and Tipperary hurling teams that competed in the Festival’s challenge matches at Davin Park, Maurice Davin Memorial Committee members, GAA President Liam O’Neill and past GAA President Sean Kelly, who officially open the memorabilia exhibition, other senior GAA figures and winners of the Eamon Coghlan one-mile-fun run.
Medallions were also presented to Jimmy Flynn from Carrickbeg, who designed the limestone wall behind the Davin statue and former Tipp FM GAA commentator Paddy Finucane as a tribute to the many years he was the “Voice of the GAA” on local radio.
In other Maurice Davin Festival news, the one-mile-fun run led by Irish running legend Eamonn Coghlan was won by Lee Mackey of Carrick Davins GAA Club in a time of 5 minutes and 7 seconds while Miriam Maher won the ladies race.
The Festival’s closing event, a senior hurling match at Davin Park between Carrick Swan and Carrickshock from Co. Kilkenny was won by Carrickshock. The match was played in memory of the late Sarah Lonergan, an avid Swan supporter.