Born in 1923 at Curraheen, Horse & Jockey, Sam Melbourne was a Church of Ireland man of farming stock whose boyhood heroes were Jack Gleeson and Tim Condon, who won three and four All-Irelands respectively at the turn of the century. Sam himself played hurling with success and was a member of the Mid Tipperary minor team in 1940 and 1941.
His greater claim to fame was his collection of G.A.A. material, which he started in 1937 with Johnny Ryan's hurley. Johnny and the rest of the famous Moycarkey family were also his heroes.
He continued his collection when he moved into Thurles in 1948 to open a sports shop in Friar Street. The oldest hurley in the collection dates back to Ennis in 1870. According to Sam he never met with a refusal when he asked a player for an item.
Sam was married to Charlotte Smyth from Killenaule by this stage and they decided to move to Dublin in 1956. His collecting never ceased and over the course of years he had amassed a large amount of material.