Fighting Irishmen Exhibition
Celebrating Celtic Prizefighters 1820-Present
In 2010, the GAA Museum hosted Fighting Irishmen - Celebrating Celtic Prizefighters 1820 to present. This exhibition, organised by the Irish Arts Centre, NYC under the direction of Jim Houlihan, told the story of Irish emigration through the sport of boxing.
The exhibition was on display in Croke Park from Tuesday 18 May through Sunday 29 August 2010.
The exhibition offered all visitors, and boxing enthusiasts alike, a unique glimpse at the role that prize-fighting played in the history of Irish America and Ireland; it featured an array of robes, gloves, boxing bags, prints, photographs, paintings and film footage of Celtic prizefighters from 1820 to the present day.
Intriguing objects on display included pieces from sporting greats such as John L. Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Barry McGuigan, Freddie Gilroy, Bobby Cassidy, Gerry Cooney, Wayne McCullough, Billy Conn, John Duddy, Bernard Dunne and many more.
The exhibition included the Olympic medals won by Michael Carruth, Kenny Egan and Wayne McCullough as well as the European and World Medals won by Katie Taylor.
Perhaps the most unique item in the exhibition was the late, great Irish fighter Dan Donnelly’s mummified right arm. Actor Liam Neeson, Honorary Chair and long-time supporter of the Irish Arts Center, 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 was fitting that the exhibition included a signed glove and shorts worn by Ali that night.
The exhibition, which was hosted by the GAA Museum in Croke Park, was officially opened on Tuesday 18th May by the US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney. The event was also attend by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michael Martin, legendary boxing commentator Jimmy Magee and Irish boxing luminaries such as Barry McGuigan and Michael Carruth.