A DISCUSISON underneath a lamp post, outside a landmark barber's shop on Tullamore's main thoroughfare in the bleak 1950s, led to the formation of one of the country's most successful sports clubs.
The extraordinary humble beginnings of Tullamore Harriers and its growth over the next six and a half decades to become one of the most well known and successful athletics clubs in the country is charted in a major new publication.
Launched by Irish and international athletics legend, Catherina McKiernan, “Tullamore Harriers – A History: 1953-2018”, is a 340 page volume which chronicles the history of the club in an encyclopaedic manner while at the same time telling its story in a fashion that both the lay reader and the athletics enthusiast will enjoy.
Painstakingly researched and written by local journalist and dedicated club member, Kevin Corrigan, the book meticulously outlines the club's history in chapters on every decade of its existence.
Each chapter finishes with a timeline detailing the story of the club and achievements of its athletes and members, both on and off the track, while photographs from every era also feature throughout.
Kevin, who is Sports Editor of the Tullamore and Midland Tribune, has also included a dedicated Harriers People section in which he interviews personalities who have made a major impact on the club while there is also a separate section on the famed Quinlan Cup.
“Tullamore Harriers – A History: 1953-2018” was launched to wide acclaim in the Tullamore Court Hotel on Thursday night last at a gala event attended by up to 700 people, including many who had travelled from far flung destinations to be present.
The lively and entertaining launch included on screen messages of goodwill from former Tullamore Harriers members who are now scattered across the globe including Ger Doyle [Australia], Claude Glynn [Scotland], Michelle English [Dublin], Gordon Abraham[Holland], Liam Brady [Coolderry], Marie O'Halloran [Clifden] Niamh O'Connor [New York], Michael Carroll [Galway], Dermot Dolan [New York], David Courtney [Ennis], Sean Gowran [Singapore], Paula Larkin [England], Richard Galvin [New Jersey], Pauline and Barry Lambe [Waterford], Anne Marie Larkin [ Donegal] and Denise Larkin [England].
Messages of congratulations were also read by Master of Ceremonies Brendan Carroll from Charlie Milner, Michael Larkin, Mick Neville, Tom Clavin and Imelda Galvin.
An RTE feature by broadcaster and former athlete, Brendan O'Reilly, on Tullamore Harriers and club stalwart, the late Paddy Larkin, first televised on Sports Stadium over two and a half decades ago, was also screened to much interest.
Master of Ceremonies, Brendan Carroll, fittingly described the mood of the launch when he declared at the outset of the formal proceedings: “I feel like I'm in a time machine I see so many faces from the past in the audience.”
Mr Carroll, who acquitted himself admirably in a most challenging role, introduced all the guest speakers and well as extending apologies from John O'Toole, Mick Neville, Eamonn Henry, Offaly Sports Partnership and Ger Connolly, former Laois/ Offaly T.D. and Government Minister.
Among dignitaries from the world of politics in attendance were former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, sitting T.D. Barry Cowen, the Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Cllr Danny Owens and the Cathaoirleach of Tullamore Municipal District, Cllr Declan Harvey.
“Tullamore Harriers – A History: 1953-2018”, which has a cover price of just €20, is for sale at Tyrrell's shop, O'Moore Street; Tullamore Tribune, William Street; Ready to Run, Cormac Street and Tullamore Hardware, Rahan Road .