Monday, 13 May 2013
Pat Davin of Deerpark
In September 1888, Pat Davin travelled to the United States with a group of 45 hurlers and athletes on a trip sponsored by the newly founded GAA which became known as the "American Invasion". In Boston, he defeated the champion of America in 120 yards hurdles and also took part in several hurling games during the tour. The hurley which he used on the tour to America is inscribed with the names of many of the cities Davin visited. On further examination, the hurley shows it was fashioned not from ash but from a hardwood, probably oak. Davin played cricket at an earlier stage of his life and when it came to hurling, it seems that he used a harder wood, more suitable for a cricket bat, to fashion his hurley. Nevertheless,in a long puck competition, he used this rather unsuitable hurley and the large and heavy 10 ounce sliotar of the time to good effect, pucking almost 85 yards.
Pat Davin's athletic achievements have never attracted the renown they deserved, partly because he never achieved the prestige of an Olympic medal for the simple reason that he was a man before his time and the games did not exist when he was in his prime. Also he has tended to be overshadowed by his brother Maurice who attracted much more notoriety not only because he was a great athlete in his day but also because he was the first President of the GAA. Nevertheless, Pat Davin could lay justified claim to being Ireland's best ever athlete. He brought much honour to Carrick-on-Suir and Ireland at a time when national prestige was at a low level and he did much to raise public interest in sport which undoubtedly contributed to the successful formation of the GAA.
The hurley and sliotar that Pat Davin used on the "American Invasion" are now given pride of place as part of the Davin showcase collection at Lár na Pairce, the National Visitors Centre for Gaelic games in Thurles.