Croke Park was the site of one of the most horrific events of the War of Independence on Bloody Sunday. A new exhibition at the GAA Museum commemorates the centenary. 

The GAA Museum remembers Bloody Sunday. Remember with us.

Original Match Ticket

In 1920, Tipperary and Dublin were two of the best teams in the country. The political situation at the time saw very few GAA championships completed.

Tipperary had qualified for the 1920 Munster semi-final but the military refused to grant permission for the match to take place. Tipperary needed a challenge game and looked to Dublin, a team that had already qualified for the All-Ireland final.

On 1st November, a letter from the Tipperary team appeared in the Freemans Journal newspaper:

"We understand that Tipperary's superiority over Dublin in football, despite two decisive victories is being questioned by Dublin. We, therefore, challenge Dublin to a match on the first available date, on any venue and for any object".

Dublin agreed to accept the challenge and Central Council fixed the date for Sunday 21st November.

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Referee's whistle

Silver whistle used by Mick Sammon from County Kildare, the referee for the Tipperary v Dublin game in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday.

Mick Sammon was a gifted footballer and, during the period 1919 – 1921, was at the peak of his sporting career. He was one of the top inter-county midfielders, nationally recognised as one of the best-known referees and he even found time to compete in athletics.

In 1919, Mick Sammon won an All-Ireland title with Kildare. On 10th October 1920, just several weeks before Bloody Sunday, he played for Kildare against Dublin in Croke Park in a match to raise funds for the match for the Munition Workers Strike Fund.

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A replica of the 1920 Tipperary jersey

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A replica of the 1920 Dublin jersey

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Mick Hogan's bootlace

The Tipperary team had travelled by train to Dublin on the day before the match, with Tipperary player Bill Ryan boarding at Templemore. At Ballybrophy, a group of soldiers boarded the train and after one of the soldiers insulted a priest on board, a brawl ensued involving some of the Tipperary players. Bill Ryan had his football boots thrown out the train window.

The following day, as the players were in the Croke Park dressing room getting ready for the game, Bill Ryan complained to Mick Hogan that his replacement boots were too loose. Mick Hogan gave Bill Ryan a spare lace to tighten his boots before they took to the field.

Bill Ryan kept the bootlace for the rest of his life. It is currently on loan to the GAA Museum and displayed as part of the Remembering Bloody Sunday exhibition.

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Annie Burke's glasses

In November 1920, Annie M. Burke from Sligo was working in Tipperary. On her way home to Dromore West she stopped off in Dublin to meet friends and accompanied them to the match in Croke Park.

When the shooting broke out and chaos ensued, Annie's glasses got damaged. One of the Tipperary players told them Mick Hogan was dead and pointed to where he was lying, not far from the goal-posts. As soon as she heard this, Annie Burke ran across the field to where Mick Hogan's body was lying and covered it with her coat, kneeling beside him until after he had received the Last Rites. She then returned to where her friends were waiting and they left Croke Park in silence.

Annie never wore her glasses again; they were never repaired and never cleaned after the events in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday.

Annie Burke later married William Looby of Cashel, Co, Tipperary. The glasses were presented to the GAA Museum in June 2019 by Annie's daughter, Sr. Margaret Looby.

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Tom Hogan's belongings

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The coat worn by Limerick native Tom Hogan when he was shot in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday is on display as part of the GAA Museum's new exhibition to commemorate the tragic events of November 21st 1920.

Tom Hogan was shot in the right shoulder, the visible patch on the right shoulder of the coat indicates where the bullet damage was repaired after Tom's death. Tom was the 14th and final victim from Croke Park on Bloody Sunday – he passed away on Friday 26th November aged just 19 years.

A box of cigarettes and matches were in the coat pocket when Tom was shot and are reminders of the human tragedy that unfolded in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday.

Image - A cigarette packet found in Tom Hogan's pocket

A cigarette packet found in Tom Hogan's pocket

Image - Tom Hogan

Tom Hogan

Thomas Ryan's prayer book and pouch

Miniature prayer book and leather pouch which belonged to Thomas Ryan from Glenbrien in County Wexford and which he had with him in Croke Park when he attended the game on 21st November 1920. The small silver cross was made from a coin that was also in his pocket when he died.

As an IRA section commander, Thomas Ryan received word at home on the morning of Bloody Sunday of the earlier events on the other side of the city. Despite a warning to stay away from Croke Park that day, Thomas went along to the game. 

 When the gunfire started, he ran to downed Tipperary player Michael Hogan and whispered an Act of Contrition in his ear before he was hit with a bullet himself and slumped to the ground.

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Letters sent to Michael Hogan's family

The exhibition features a selection of letters and telegrams that were sent to the family of the late Michael Hogan in the immediate aftermath of Bloody Sunday.

The letters include one written by Fr. Edward (Ned) O'Brien who, along with Fr. Crotty, administered the last rites to Mick Hogan as he lay dying on the field.

Image - Fr. Edward (Ned) O'Brien's letter to Mrs Hogan

Fr. Edward (Ned) O'Brien's letter to Mrs Hogan

Another letter is from P. Browne (Fr. Paddy Browne), a native of Grangemockler and a brother of Monsignor Maurice (Moss) Browne who was a friend of Mick Hogan. The Browne and Hogan families were friends and neighbours. On the second page of the letter, Paddy writes of how he "can't keep from crying myself ever still; I remember like yesterday, the first day he came to school, when he was only barely able to talk".

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Image - The letter from Fr. Paddy Browne to Michael Hogan's family

The letter from Fr. Paddy Browne to Michael Hogan's family

1921 Bloody Sunday commemorative medal

In 1921, on the first anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the footballers of Dublin and Tipperary met again in Croke Park. Mick Sammon, from Kildare, was again the referee and Tipperary won by 18 points, holding Dublin scoreless.

After the match the players converged at the spot where Michael Hogan had been shot, close to Hill 60 (now Hill 16).

The players were presented with a gold medal. The one pictured here was given to Tipperary's Bill Ryan and is inscribed "Presented by the Irish National Assurance Co. 1921 Anniversary Tournament Won by Tipperary W. Ryan".

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Image - Bill Ryan's 1921 medal

Bill Ryan's 1921 medal

The 1920 All-Ireland Final

The 1920 All-Ireland Final did not take place until 11th June 1922. While Dublin had qualified for the All-Ireland final by October 1920, the Munster championship did not resume until February 1922. Tipperary emerged as Munster champions, defeated Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final and set up an All-Ireland final encounter with Dublin in Croke Park.  

Image - A 1920 All-Ireland medal won by T Ryan Castlegrace and Tipperary

A 1920 All-Ireland medal won by T Ryan Castlegrace and Tipperary

Dan Breen, who was involved in the first incident of the War of Independence at Soloheadbeg in January 1919, threw in the ball for the game and is seated third from left in the middle row. Tipperary defeated Dublin on a final score-line of 1-6 to 1-2.  

Image - Dan Breen and the Tipperary team

Dan Breen and the Tipperary team

These images and the accompanying text are taken from the GAA Museum's exhibition marking the centenary of Bloody Sunday. The GAA Museum at Croke Park is the national custodian of all the archives and artefacts of the Gaelic Athletic Association. At the time of the anniversary, the GAA Museum is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions

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