Pat Nally Of Balla, Co. Mayo, Irish Legend of 19th Century Was A Patriot and Martyr
Born 17th March 1855 - Died 9th November 1891
The stadium stands at Croke Park commemorated a proud and famous trio of Irishmen, Michael Cusack of Co. Clare, Michael Hogan of Co. Tipperary and Pat Nally.
Nally was born at Balla, Co. Mayo on March 17th (St, Patricks Day) 1855 and he was an avid athletics sportsman. He was a celebrated athlete and a man who cared deeply about the preservation of traditional Irish cultures and pastimes.
Cusack and Nally were close sporting associates and in many of their leisurely strolls around the Pheonix Park, Dublin, the topic of conversation often featured the setting up of a national association. Pat Nally was active in the Irish Republican Brotherhood and also in the Land League and was also a great friend of another famous Mayoman, Michael Davitt.
Historians have recorded many times that the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884 would have been historically credited to Cusack and Nally as joint co-founders, if Nally was not incarcerated at Downpatrick Jail, Co. Down.
When the inaugural meeting took place at Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Pat Nally was already serving a ten year sentence, initially at Downpatrick and then at Mountjoy Prison, Dublin.
In 1882, along with six colleagues, he was accused of planning the murder of several land agents, men greatly responsible for the evictions of numerous Irish tenants from their homesteads.
At just thirty six years old, Pat Nally died in custody and the circumstances of his death gave rise to the opinion, that foul play by the prison staff may be responsible. His death certificate stated he died from typhoid fever.
In 1952 the famed Croke Park opened a new single tier stand sandwiched between the old Hogan Stand and Hill 16 to honour the role of Pat Nally in the formation of the association.
In January 2003 the Nally stand was dismantled and found a new home at the grounds of famous Tyrone club, Carrickmore.
Pat Nally’s influence on Michael Cusack was quoted by the Clare founder in an article to the ‘United Irishmen’ newspaper in 1899, as the greatest influence upon him to put in place the setting up of the new association
Nally was the eldest son and one of six brothers, of a prosperous farmer of 'advanced' nationalist views. Nally from an early age had been a Fenian and by the late 1870s was a leading organiser of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was also present at the founding meeting in August 1879, of the Land League of Mayo, later becoming the Land League. He was elected a joint secretary.
By 1880 Nally had become a member of the IRB's Supreme Council and despite bribes during his incarceration to name Charles Stewart Parnell as one of his close comrades, he defied his jailers and paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life.