BALLYLANDERS native Frank Dineen was honoured in Croke Park this Wednesday to make the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his presentation of the deeds of Croke Park to the GAA.
Surviving members of the Dineen family and representatives of Ballylanders GAA club were invited to Croke Park, where they were presented with framed copies of the original deeds.
“Today is a hugely important milestone in the history of the Association and one on which we are proud to shine a light on the all important contribution of Frank Brazil Dineen,” said GAA President, Liam O’Neill.
“Not only did he serve as both President and General Secretary of a then fledgling organisation, but he personally secured what would become the long-term iconic home of the GAA. For that amongst others things we should be eternally grateful. I welcome relatives of Frank here today in addition to representatives of the families of other key administrative families of that era. Their ancestors may not have realised it at the time, but collectively they played a part in a monumental decision that placed Croke Park at the heart of the GAA’s and indeed the nation’s sporting and cultural activities, said O’Neill.
In 1908 Dineen purchased the 14-acre City and Suburban Racecourse for the sum of £3,250 with the sole aim of providing the GAA with a suitable home.
Three years earlier he had advocated, anonymously through a newspaper article, an elaborate scheme for a major Gaelic games stadium in Dublin. The financial situation of the GAA between 1905 and 1908 was such that it could not afford to buy the stadium itself so Dineen bought the grounds and held them in trust for the GAA.
Between 1908 and 1910, he oversaw substantial improvements to the grounds, including relaying the entire pitch and increasing the terrace accommodation.
These improvements were paid for by Dineen himself and, in 1910, due to financial constraints, he had to sell off four acres of the ground to the Jesuits of Belvedere College for £1,090.
In 1912 the grounds had fallen into a state of disrepair and it has been speculated, by Marcus DeBúrca the renowned GAA historian, that the deteriorating state of the grounds may have prompted the GAA to stage the Croke Memorial Tournament in 1913, the proceeds of which were used to purchase the grounds from Dineen.
Following the sale of the grounds to the GAA, who subsequently re-named it the Croke Memorial Park (and later simply Croke Park) Dineen remained involved in the GAA until his death in 1916.
In 2006 Hill 16 was officially re-named Dineen Hill 16 in honour of Frank Dineen.