Current trustees of Tullamore Harriers at the club’s 70th anniversary celebrations, L-R: Tom Beatty, Liam Hennessy, Adrian Curley (Chairman) and Brendan O’Shea (Honorary Life President) with Sharon Hayden (seated). Photo: Ger Rogers.

Tullamore Harriers marks 70 years at place where it all began

Seventy years ago this week, Tullamore Harriers Athletic Club was born.

On November 13, 1953, outside Tommy Clarke’s Barbershop in Tullamore, a group of nine young men, aged 19 to 21 years engaged in a spirited discussion about the prospect of establishing an athletics club, giving birth to Tullamore Harriers AC.

The seed of their ambitious idea was planted that night, and over the course of seven decades, it has grown into one of the most esteemed athletic clubs in the country.

To commemorate this significant milestone, representatives of those original visionaries, along with current committee, club members and friends, gathered last Monday night at the very spot where the idea was conceived.

Under the stars, as storm Debi subsided, Tullamore Harriers Chairman Adrian Curley extended a warm welcome to the esteemed guests, who gathered to pay tribute to the unwavering dedication of those pioneers who, seven decades ago, embarked on a mission that would impact the athletic community.

Adrian expressed gratitude to the distinguished attendees, including John Cronin, President of Athletics Ireland; Brendan O’Shea, Life President of Tullamore Harriers AC; Darren Butler, Chairman of Offaly Athletics; and Declan Harvey, Cathaoirleach of Tullamore Municipal District.

Mick Hayden, Life President of Tullamore Harriers, who was unfortunately unable to attend, was represented by his daughter Sharon. Seven of the famous nine visionaries were honoured with representation: Michael Larkin on behalf of his father Paddy Larkin; Liz Fox on behalf of her husband Larry Fox; John Dowling on behalf of his father Billy Dowling; Eanna Gowran on behalf of his father Noel Gowran; John McDermott on behalf of his father Michael McDermott; Fiona Baker on behalf of her uncle Brendan McDermott; and May Dowling on behalf of her husband John Dowling.

The highlight of the night was the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by Sharon Daly, Club Secretary, and Brendan O’Shea, which is set on the wall outside Tommy Clarke’s Barbershop as a constant reminder. The club thanks David Feely of Tommy Clarke’s Barbershop for his hospitality on the night.

*See this week's Offaly Independent for more photos.