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GCH One Hundred Years Ago Today


from Galway City Harriers One hundred years ago today, on March 16th 1909, Tom Hynes, one of Galway City Harriers AC’s founding members, won the first marathon race to be held in Ireland. “Tom Hynes, of Galway, the champion of many a long-distance race, was cheered to the winning-post yesterday at Jones’s Road, Dublin, when he finished first in the Irish Marathon of 26 miles 385 yards. For this achievement he gets the first prize of £30 sterling.” Irish Independent Monday May 17th 1909.
Photo credit: National Census Archives.

Jones’s Road Sportsground, also known at the time as the City and Suburban Racecourse was the setting, the scene of many athletics meetings between 1891 and the early 1920’s. In 1913, the GAA purchased the ground from Frank Dineen, who himself had secured it in 1908 with a view to the future. It was renamed Croke Park, securing the future Headquarters of the GAA.

The event on March 16th 1909, the first marathon to be held in Ireland, was organised by a local committee of sporting gentlemen. The starter was Surgeon McArdle, who with Dr. M. Burke Savage also acted as medical examiners. The track was laid with cinders and it was noted that it was well rolled. Each lap measured just under half a mile, so the competitors had to run 60 laps and 425 yards.

Twenty eight athletes entered, twenty making the start line, eight making the finish line. They came from all over Ireland as well as London and Wales. Conditions were noted as favourable. Dublin’s P. Fegan from Greek Street, and an international runner having recently competed in New York, forged ahead to the crowd’s delight, leading at the 5 and 10 mile marks. He was joined at the front by F. Curtis from Ashbourne Co. Meath and both held a clear lead at the half-way. But Hynes seems to have paced himself brilliantly, because by 20 miles he was in control. Curtis and Fegan pursued, taking the lead once more, but with three laps to go Hynes made his final effort. “Fegan was full of pluck, but he could not hold the great Hynes, who sauntered away in the last lap, and won amidst a scene of wild enthusiam by 100 yards. Curtis finished third nearly a lap behind Fegan, and the other prize positions were filled by P. Conway, J. Timmons, and W. McAuliffe.”

Ther order of finishing was:
1. (£30) T. Hynes 2hrs 51mins 51sec
2. (£10) P. Fegan 2hrs 52mins 13sec
3. (£5) F Curtis 2hrs 56mins 13sec
4. (£2 10s) P. Conway 3hrs 3mins 20 sec
5. (£1 10s) J. Timmons 3hrs 8mins 20sec
6. (£1) W. McAuliffe 3hrs 14mins 46 sec

Jones’s Road Today – March 15th 2009
Thanks to Mick Rice for reminding us of this memorable day!