Home News Athletics in Ireland mourns the passing of Jim McNamara.

Athletics in Ireland mourns the passing of Jim McNamara.


A member of Donore Harriers, McNamara competed in the Olympic marathon in Montreal in 1976. His influence and impact was to have a far greater impact than his individual achievements alone. Below is a tribute by one of his contemporaries Pat Hooper, 1980 Olympian and Chairman of the Dublin Athletics Board.

 Dublin Athletic Board is sad to announce the death of Jim McNamara (Donore Harriers) today – one of the all-time greats of Irish Athletics. Jim ran for Ireland in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal and the 1966 European Championships in Budapest. He also represented Ireland at senior level on the Road, Track and Cross Country. He is also a former National Senior Championship winner.

From the early 1950s to the mid 1970s Donore Harriers totally dominated Irish middle and long distance running winning every team title that was available to them. Jim was one of the main reasons behind this domination. He was always available for selection. His prowess as a relay runner was legendary where no cause was ever lost until the finish line. He lived by the adage that “A race was always better than a training session and that the best training for running is running.”

Jim McNamara will probably go down as Ireland’s greatest ever Masters Athlete. He won his first European title in 1982 and his first World title in 1983. He has kept on accumulating titles ever since as well as rewriting the record books. Only last summer he was still trying to set records in the over 75 age group. It was fitting his last race was in the green singlet of Ireland when he helped the Irish team finish 2nd in their age group in the Home Countries International.

Jim was also a great coach and was always ready to part his knowledge to anyone who cared to listen. He was coach to the very successfully ladies section in Donore Harriers and led them to many titles on the Road and Cross Country. He never forgot the advice and knowledge he got from his own coach the legendary Eddie Hogan.

In 2013 Jim was awarded the IAAF Jubilee Gold Medal medal for his services to the sport he loved so much. To his children James, Shane and Andrea and the rest of his family we offer our deepest condolences and thanks. Jim was predeceased by his loving wife Betty who died in 1981. May he rest in peace.

Source: Athletics Ireland