George Sigerson & Letterkenny
You may know that third level colleges in Ireland compete annually in GAA football for the highly prestigious Sigerson Cup, but did you know that George Sigerson, after whom the trophy is named, was once a student in Letterkenny.
Sigerson, from Strabane in County Tyrone, attended Dr. Crerand’s High School on the Main Street for one year in 1850. The High School had been opened in 1849 and was located approximately where the Central Library is today.
Due to alleged sectarian trouble in the area though, his parents decided to remove him from the Letterkenny High School in 1851 and send him to Paris to continue his education. Dr. Crerand, originally from Illistrin, had lived in France himself for a short time, and often spoke to his pupils about the beauty and wonders of the French capital. Crerand’s influence remained with Sigerson for many years as he often spoke fondly of his old teacher and his time in Letterkenny. When his brothers John and James fell ill, George even wrote to his father stating: “I hope Dr. Crerand has been to see them for he is a better doctor than those in Strabane”.
Sigerson later became a renowned poet, scientist, writer and politician who was a leading member in the Irish Literary Revival in the late 19th Century but is perhaps best remembered as the donor of the GAA Sigerson Cup contested annually by Third Level colleges in Ireland. Sigerson donated his salary from his post at UCD in 1911 for the purchase of the trophy.