Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Post: LOOKING BACK AT THE CASTLEMARTYR ROAD RACE... by John Walshe

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Up until recently, the middle of April was the start of the Summer season of evening road races in Cork. In this guest post by John Walshe, he looks back at the Castlemartyr 4 mile road race which preceded  the current Ballintotis 4 mile.


Given the glorious weather we’re having of late, no doubt there would have been a huge turnout for this Thursday’s Ballintotis four-mile road race, traditionally the opener to what promised to be another exciting summer of evening events. But alas, for obvious reasons, it is not to be.

Therefore, as we while away these strange times, less us take a look back to the race that preceded Ballintotis which took place in the nearby village of Castlemartyr. On this Blog there is another article [March 2015] on one of those four-milers which was prompted by a photograph discovered by local man Pat Walsh and shows the start of the 1989 event on Castlemartyr’s main street.

That was the fourth year of the race organised by East Cork AC and Castlemartyr in mid-April would herald the start of the spring and summer races for well over two decades. Just 81 runners took part that night, with victory going to Liam O’Brien of the promoting club in 19:25, eight seconds ahead of his team-mate, John Kearney. Eileen Prunty, also East Cork, was first of the women in a time of 23:41.

However, there was a four-mile race in Castlemartyr before East Cork was formed and this was held on three occasions from 1983 to 1985. The first event, on the evening of Friday July 8th, was organised by Imokilly Social Club and sponsored by local firm O.R.M. The winner was Michael Dwyer from Limerick in a time of 19:53. Michael had run in the junior race at the previous year’s World Cross-Country Championships in Rome and at the time of his Castlemartyr victory was working in Shanagarry.

Second that night (20:08) was Denis McCarthy, then of the Youghal club. Later that same evening Denis travelled to Midleton where he took part in the 5000m organised by the East Cork Board, finishing fourth. Dick O’Brien of St Nicholas, who had also run in Castlemartyr, fared better in Midleton when coming second in the 5000m behind club-mate Mike Griffin.

Michael Dwyer had finished 18th in that year’s Ballycotton ‘10’, his time of 52:40 putting him one place and 10 seconds behind Castlemartyr man Pat Whyte, a member of the Midleton club. Pat would go on to run 49:52 for eight position the following year at Ballycotton. No doubt his early morning runs before work around that Castlemartyr circuit – which formed part of his 100 miles a week training schedule – played a major part in his significant improvement.  

Although, as that picture shows, by 1986 the race commenced on the main street those early races had a slightly different start. The route was the same, on to the Ladysbridge road for almost a mile, then a left around Dower before re-joining the main N25 Youghal road just before three miles with the finish on the roadway outside the national school.

Pat Whyte’s brother John, who worked at O.R.M., was involved in those early races and was responsible for the results (below) of the 1984 race which shows 87 finishers, a fine turnout at the time. Two Youghal natives, Martin Drake and Mary Sweeney, took the individual honours with both setting respective course records of 19:40 and 23:49.

A year later just 23 runners took part and so brought the first piece of the Castlemartyr story to an end. With the formation of East Cork AC in that year of 1985, a road race was planned for the following April over the same route and this continued for the next 24 years until Ballintotis came along in 2010. Numbers there continued to increase for the following decade, culminating in last year’s record 1,240 finishers.

And so, along with the 1984 results (below), let us also take a nostalgic look back to the 10th (1995) and 20th (2005) Castlemartyr 4-Mile events and recall those enjoyable races as we scroll through the names of those who participated ‘All in the April Evenings’ going back to a quarter-of-a-century ago.

1984 results...

1989 Results

1995 Results

2005 Results

List of John Walshe's articles

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love to see results of 1992,1993 and 1994? I ran it those years i think, completely forgot have fast (or how slow) i was back then.