Thursday, September 19, 2013

Presentation to West Waterford Athletic Club...Wed 18th Sept 2013

Donal Power presents James Veale chairman of West Waterford athletic club with the James Hughes perpetual cup for cross country. Also pictured are Kevin and Michael Power. James Hughes was their grandfather and was an Irish international cross country athlete. Donal gave a very in depth talk on his grandfather in association with the Waterford Museum Society in the Town hall theatre Dungarvan on Wednesday evening. This was attended by members of the Museum society and local athletics enthusiasts. The cup will be awarded each year to the winner of the West Waterford AC open  cross country race which is celebrating its 21st year this year. The race goes ahead at St Augustine's College on October 6th at 2 pm where Waterford counties best cross country runners battle it out to make their own piece of history by being the first name inscribed on this magnificent trophy. Donal and members of  the Power family will be along on race day to present the cup to the race winner.

From Donal O'Donoghue....Donal Power had a Powerpoint presentation of 77 slides shown via overhead projector, to an audience of about 60 people.

This was a very interesting talk that covered James Hughes life from his early years on the family farm, and running locally for clubs in Co Louth.
There was no blog covering races back then, so the most reliable records of the era were the many newspaper clippings he kept in his scrapbook, along with a few photos.

Circa 1911 James Hughes moved to Surrey, working for the Pearl Life Assurance company for most of the next 37 years, and joined the local Surrey Athletic club.

In early 1915 he took a break from Pearl, and joined the Royal Munster Fusiliers of the British Army, and was sent back to Ireland to his training at Fermoy and Mitchelstown. He was in the trenches of the Western Front during the 1916 Easter Rising, where the opposing Germans raised banners taunting the Irish soldiers. He fought at the Battle of the Somme, and in particular the Battle of Guillemont, 3–6 September, where his athletic career was cut short, which his right leg was seriously injured by shrapnel, and what remained had to be amputated.

After the war he continued to work for Pearl, until his retirement in 1948. He had married a lady Mary Kehoe from Waterford, but had to continue to work in Surrey while the family grew up in Ireland. He retired to Abbeyside where he passed away in 1961, but kept active throughout his life, despite his severe injury.

Several Great War campaign medals and one surviving Athletic medal, which were left to Donal Power, were on display, along with the new Trophy, which will be presented annually at the West Waterford Cross Country race. This 21th running of this race will take place on Sunday 6th October at St. Augustine’s College.

An interesting side note in this lecture is that Cross Country was an Olympic event in the early years, until an incident in 1924 Paris Olympics. The race was won by Paavo Nurmi, the "Flying Finn".
This was the era before Hydration was taken seriously. In 40C heat, many runners failed to finish. Some who did collapsed. Many hours after the race, Olympic officials and French Red Cross were still out searching the course for lost runners! As a result the Olympic Committee decided to drop Cross Country from the Games, and it has never been reinstated since. 

No comments: