A SCHOOL tour aimed at educating children about Sam Maguire has been formally launched in the patriot’s hometown of Dunmanway.
County Mayor Cllr Declan Hurley, and the Cork GAA chairperson, Tracey Kennedy, joined with an enthusiastic group of fifth and sixth class students from Dunmanway Model School for the formal launch of the tour at St Mary’s Church last month.
The Sam Maguire School Tour is, in fact, a partnership between the Church of Ireland in Dunmanway, where Sam Maguire is buried, and five other groups in the area.
‘Most children know the name of Sam Maguire but few known the story of the man behind the cup,’ said the Rev Cliff Jeffers, ‘so we have organised the tours to not only tell the story of his life, but also the history of his hometown, Dunmanway.’
Rev Jeffers said: ‘We have created a package tour that promises to be informative and fun – a good day out for primary school tours because it will have optional extras.’
The extras include a visit to the Top of the Rock pod park and glamping farm, Glenilen Farm – where the children can make their own yoghurts and desserts, Dunmanway’s beautiful new swimming pool, the local Historical Association in its equally impressive new premises, and the rollercoaster delight that is ‘Funmanway’.
The tours can also take in a visit to St Mary’s Church where the children can get a brief lesson in bell ringing courtesy of the Sam Maguire Community Bells Project, which was installed in St Mary’s Church of Ireland in July 2017.
The project received the backing of the GAA in recognition of the fact that Sam Maguire gave his name to their most prized cup.
The project features eight bells with a combined weight of about 500kg, but each bell has a theme through which all aspects of life in Dunmanway town – its sport, wars and revolutions, agriculture, migration, religious traditions, education, arts, industry and commerce – can be outlined.
In addition to the school tours, the community in Dunmanway is pleased to announce that the Sam Maguire Community Bells Project will be welcoming coach tours in the afternoons during the months of July and August.
Speaking at the launch of the Sam Maguire School Tour, Cllr Hurley described it as ‘a new and exciting initiative that tells the story of Sam Maguire in a fun and interactive way’; while Tracey Kennedy described the tour as ‘a truly unique experience.’ And she urged ‘all schools to consider a visit.’
Sam Maguire was a member of the Church of Ireland from Malabracka, near Dunmanway, and is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard in the town centre.
After completing his education at Dunmanway Model School, he took up a position in the post office in London and became a member of the IRB.
During that time, he provided intelligence and support to Michael Collins in the struggle for Irish freedom.
Sam also played Gaelic Football in London and was captain of his senior football team as well as president of his club, London Hibernians. He even represented the London County Board at congress and was a trustee of Croke Park.
When Sam Maguire returned to Ireland, after the Treaty was signed, he ended up back at Malabracka, the family home, and it was here in 1927, at the age of 49, that he died in sickness and in poverty.
He was, for a time, considered by many to be a divisive figure, a traitor, but it was after his death that his friends raised £300 to erect a Celtic cross at his grave at St Mary’s Churchyard.
With the balance of the money, they commissioned a cup in the style of the Ardagh Chalice – a cup that has been awarded to the winners of the All-Ireland Senior Football final every year since 1928 – and the rest, they say, is history.
For more information about the Sam Maguire School tour contact: 023 8856508 from 10.30 to 3pm or online at www.fanlobbus.ie/Sam-Maguire-School-tours.html