16 March 2010 – Press Release
The legacy of Fighting Irishmen will be illustrated in an exhibition to be hosted by the GAA Museum and the Irish Arts Center, at Croke Park this summer.
The exhibit tells the story of Irish emigration and assimilation to eventual success and world wide acclaim through the sport of boxing. The exhibition The Fighting Irishmen: Celebrating Celtic Prizefighters 1820 to Present – will run from Tuesday, May 18 through Tuesday, August 31, 2010.
Curated by Jim Houlihan of the Irish Arts Center in New York, the exhibition offers a unique glimpse at the role that prize-fighting played in the history of Irish America and Ireland.
The exhibition had already proved popular with audiences in New York and Boston from 2006-2008 before showing to much acclaim at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh in 2009.
The exhibition will feature an array of robes, gloves, boxing bags, prints, photographs, painting and film footage of Celtic prizefighters from 1820 to the present day. Intriguing objects on display will include pieces from sporting greats such as John L Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Barry McGuigan, Freddie Gilroy, Bobby Cassidy, Gerry Cooney, Wayne McCullough, Billy Graham, Billy Conn, John Duddy, Maureen Shea and many more.
Perhaps the most unique item in the exhibition is the late, great Irish fighter Dan Donnellys mummified right arm.
Ballymena-born actor Liam Neeson, Honorary Chair and long-time supporter of the Irish Arts Center, has also loaned personal items from his amateur boxing career to the exhibit including the gloves given to him by Olympic boxer Freddie Gilroy.
Given the connection between Croke Park and Muhammad Ali, who famously fought Al Blue Lewis at the venue in 1972, it is fitting that the exhibition will include a signed glove and shorts worn by Ali that night.
Over the past three years, Croke Park has opened its doors to a vast array of mass sporting occasions so it is only fitting that it should house an exhibition which celebrates the sport of boxing and its historical relevance, at a venue, which itself is steeped in history.
The Irish Arts Center, Founded in 1972, is a New York-based arts and cultural centre dedicated to projecting a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America for the 21st century, building community with audiences of all backgrounds, and preserving the stories and traditions of Irish culture for generations to come.
Our multi-disciplinary programming is centred around three core areas: Performance including live music, dance, theatre, film, literature, and the humanities; Exhibition including visual arts presentations and cultural exhibitions that tell the evolving Irish story; and Education, with dozens of classes per week in Irish language, history, music, and dance.
Located in New York City, a global capital of arts and culture, Irish Arts Center serves as a dynamic platform for top emerging and established artists and cultural creators to reach a New York, national, and global audience, and as a gateway for other institutions to access first-rate Irish and Irish American culture.