James Nowlan

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James Nowlan Alderman James Nowlan GAA President 1901 - 1921.jpg
James Nowlan
James Nowlan (right - dark suit with bowler style hat) shakes hands with Michael Collins (left) ahead of the 1921 Leinster hurling final Good Times (9490851253).jpg
James Nowlan (right - dark suit with bowler style hat) shakes hands with Michael Collins (left) ahead of the 1921 Leinster hurling final

James Nowlan (1862[ citation needed ] – June 1924) was President of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) from 1901 to 1921 and is the longest serving president of the organisation. He was also a Sinn Féin representative and member of the Gaelic League.[ citation needed ] In 2009 he was named in the Sunday Tribune's list of the 125 Most Influential People In GAA History. [1]


Early life

Nowlan was born in Monasterevin,[ citation needed ] County Kildare in 1862 and is listed in the local church as being baptised at Cowpasture, Monasterevin on 25 May 1862. His father, Patrick Nowlan, was an early member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and friend of James Stephens. [2] Patrick Nowlan was a cooper from Kilkenny city and possibly moved from there to work at Cassidy's Whiskey in Monasterevin. [3] [1] James Nowlan also trained as a cooper. [4] [5]


Nowlan was a member of the Gaelic League, a lifelong supporter of the Irish language revival movement and a supporter of Sinn Féin from its foundation in 1905. In 1898 he was elected an alderman of Kilkenny Corporation.[ citation needed ] He used his time in this position to help promote the GAA, which had been set up 14 years prior and was a relatively new organisation at the time.[ citation needed ] In 1900 he became the first chairman of the Leinster Council of the GAA. He was elected President of the GAA nationally at the 1901 Congress held in September of that year.[ citation needed ] He would hold that position for twenty years - making him the longest serving president. [4] During his time in office he attempted to steer the organisation on a more republican path.[ citation needed ]

Following the Easter Rising, Nowlan was arrested by the British in May 1916 and interned without trial in Frongoch, Wales.[ citation needed ] In August of that year he was released and continued with his GAA and Sinn Féin duties.[ citation needed ] He publicly voiced support for the Irish Republican Army during the Anglo-Irish War in the 1920s.[ citation needed ]

At the 1921 Congress, held in March of that year, Nowlan retired as GAA President, and was appointed Honorary Life President of the association the only person to be so honoured.[ citation needed ]

Death and legacy

Nowlan died in June 1924 in his mid-70s.[ citation needed ] Nowlan Park, the GAA stadium in his native Kilkenny, was renamed in his honour three years later.[ citation needed ] He was buried in Glasnevin cemetery. There was no headstone on his grave until 2013 when the GAA erected a Celtic cross. [6] In September 2016 the GAA unveiled a new trophy named The James Nowlan Cup to be presented to the All-Ireland under-21 hurling champions. [7]

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Nowlan is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:


  1. 1 2 Enda McEvoy, Kieran Shannon, Dave Hannigan (4 January 2009). "125 Most Influential People In GAA History". Sunday Tribune . Archived from the original on 9 August 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2009.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. Jim Walsh (2013). James Nowlan - The Alderman and the GAA in His Time. Independent Publishing Network. ISBN   9781782801993.
  3. "James Nowlan - who was he?". Kilkenny People. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  4. 1 2 "GAA History > GAA Presidents". Official GAA Website. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  5. "Household Return (Form A) - Residents of a house 2 in Troysgate (East) (Kilkenny Urban No. 2, Kilkenny)". National Archives of Ireland. 1911. Listed as: Nowlan James, aged 47, Male, cooper by trade, relation to head of the house hold as Brother, religion listed as Roman Catholic.
  6. "Irish Press Releases - The Unveiling of the Headstone of Alderman James Nowlan GAA President 1901 to 1921". Press.ie. 18 July 2013. Archived from the original on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  7. "New All-Ireland U21HC trophy unveiled". www.hoganstand.com. Hogan Stand. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Michael Deering
President of the Gaelic Athletic Association
Succeeded by
Daniel McCarthy