Tuning in – From Wireless to WiFi exhibition opens at the GAA Museum

The GAA Museum’s new exhibition looks at the history of Gaelic games and broadcasting. 

Tuning In – From Wireless to WiFi is a new exhibition at the GAA Museum, charting the history of Gaelic games being broadcast on the national airwaves – radio and television - and the notable individuals who commentated and brought the excitement of the games into homes throughout the country.  

The first live commentary on a field sport in Europe was relayed from Croke Park on 29th August 1926. Ireland’s first radio station, 2RN, broadcast the All-Ireland hurling semi-final between Galway and Kilkenny with commentary by Paddy Mehigan.  

In the pre-television era, radio coverage of hurling and football on Sunday afternoons became the focal point for communities across the country as the iconic voice of Michael O’Hehir filled homes and brought to life the action and excitement on the pitch in a colourful and unique way. 

The advent of television coverage in 1962 brought the spectacle of Gaelic games directly into homes with the new Radio Teilifis Éireann (RTÉ). On March 17th 1962 the first live television coverage of GAA matches by RTE were the Railway Cup hurling and football Finals. 

The exhibition captures these and other key milestones and developments in how the coverage of Gaelic games has evolved since that first broadcast in August 1926.  

Historical artefacts from the early days of radio are on display and include wireless radio sets and broadcasting equipment from the 1920s - 1950s, courtesy of collector and radio enthusiast Pat Herbert of the Museum of Vintage Radio in Howth. The displays are complemented with selected footage and imagery from the RTÉ Archive. Highlights include footage and Micheál O'Hehir's commentary on the 1947 All-Ireland Football Final, broadcast from the Polo Grounds in New York, between Cavan and Kerry. The medal collection of Cavan's winning captain, John Joe O'Reilly, are on display alongside jerseys worn by his team mate, Mick Higgins, and Kerry's Bill Casey.   

GAA President John Horan said: "Communicating the GAA message has always been of utmost importance to us and is one of the reasons why the popularity of the games spread the way it did

"From 1926 broadcasts of our games have illuminated afternoons and fired imaginations with legendary household names being commented upon and commentating.

The technology may have changed but the principles remain the same and I look forward to the focus that this GAA Museum exhibition will bring to an important part of our history."

Tuning in – From Wireless to WiFi is housed on the ground floor of the GAA Museum in Croke Park and will run until June 2020.