Croke Park – 100 Years
In the early years of the GAA All-Ireland Finals were played at a variety of venues around the country. The first finals played at what is now Croke Park took place in March 1896 with Tipperary successful in both codes, beating Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Hurling Final and Meath in the All-Ireland Football Final. By 1906 the City and Suburban Racecourse and Amusements Grounds Ltd. was in financial difficulty and was put up for auction. In the auctioneer’s advertisement the property was described as then consisting of ‘14 acres and 17 and a half perches’. Frank Brazil Dineen decided to bid for the grounds and by a deed dated 17th December 1908 he paid £3,250 for the grounds. On 27th July 1913 Central Council decided to buy the grounds and re-name it as Croke Memorial Park, a title which was never subsequently used. Dineen sold the grounds to the GAA for £3,500 and Croke Park became the principal grounds of the Association and also its administrative headquarters.
Accommodation for spectators in 1913 was primitive. Two stands existed along the Jones Road side of the grounds – one known as the Long Stand and the other simply called The Stand. The latter was a fragile timber construction which had an office underneath. The GAA’s first effort at modernisation was the construction of a terrace area at the northern end of the ground, in what is now Dineen-Hill 16. This was created in 1917 using the rubble from O’Connell Street in Dublin, which had been destroyed in the 1916 Rising.
In 1924 the GAA built a new stand along the Jones Road side of the stadium and took the historic decision to name it the Hogan Stand, in honour of Michael Hogan of Tipperary who had been shot during Bloody Sunday. The Cusack Stand was finally completed in 1938 and cost £50,000 and was regarded as one of the finest in Europe at the time. It had two tiers – 5,000 seats on the upper deck and terracing underneath. In 1966 this terracing was replaced with seating for 9,000 spectators. At the Canal End new terracing was provided in 1949 and the Nally Stand was built in 1952.
The ‘old’ Hogan Stand was replaced in 1959 when it became a two-tier structure standing 500 feet high and with seating for 16,000. By this time, Croke Park could house 23,000 seated spectators and 62,000 standing. However, 87,768 spectators watched Down beat Kerry in the 1960 All-Ireland Football Final. The following year an all-time record was reached when Down beat Offaly in the All-Ireland Football Final before 90,556 fans. After 1961 development of the grounds slowed.
In the 1980’s a grand plan for the entire redevelopment of Croke Park was set in train. This redevelopment was staged in four phases starting in 1993 with a new Cusack Stand and culminating in 2005 with a new Hill 16. The redevelopment was completed in just over 12 years with no disruptions to any All-Ireland Finals. Today Croke Park is one of the largest stadiums in Europe and is the crowning glory of the Association. Published in a single limited edition of 850 worldwide, each print is individually numbered and signed by Brian O’Flaherty, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist.
Image Size: 500mm x 380mm Print Size: 21” x 18” approx.