Church Street in February 2024
By David Kissane
I’ve already told the story of Torun 2023 and my 11th place finish which still hurts (in the ego).
A long taxi-drive to Bydgoszcz airport and arrived at my most unfavourite place on a return journey. Especially with no medal. The waiting area. If purgatory exists, it is a waiting area in an airport on the return journey. Time moves like my legs on a Monday run. Treacle on the surface of mars. The queue for the Empire State Building. Tuesday morning traffic on the M50. The traffic to Banna on a July Sunday.
Luckily, some of the Irish athletes were returning from Torun on that flight and when they gathered, the clock picked up. One of them was after running in the cross country a few days before and had an interesting tale to tell.
Martin McEvilly had competed in the M70 cross country. He didn’t look stirred or shaken.
Martin started his athletics career in October 1968, inspired by a relative. His first cousin ran in the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968. He was Mick Molloy who was a hardy man who lived on his own. The nearest house was about a mile away. Mick never did any team sports…always kept to the individual ones.
He had four brothers who were all into running. He represented Ireland in the marathon in 1968 in the high altitude of Mexico. His training in the build-up included 120 miles per week on the road. And he was a nocturnal runner. Rarely trained before 11 o’clock at night. He worked on the farm during the day, all day and so darkness was his companion.
Hallo darkness, my old friend.
Mick Molloy was happy enough with his performance in Mexico but it was the altitude that got to him mostly. He wore a new pair of Tiger Cubs for the big day but threw them off with about 10 miles to go and ran the rest in his bare feet. Different days.
After that he ran in the 1969 Athens marathon and had a respectable finish in that. Then he broke the world record for 130 miles on the track a few years later in Walton Track in Surrey in London. That’s an unusual one. He had already won quite a few cross country titles in Ireland but once he got hooked on the marathon he never went back to cross country.
Martin McEvilly started running around the age of 21. If not a late starter, a mid-term starter, he says! He joined Galway City Harriers at the request of one of his friends and there was lift-off.
His first big break in the marathon was when he ran 2:16.4 in London in the mid 1970s. He had been living there for a while by then. He had gone to London for a weekend and met a few lads from a running club there and joined them. He stayed for fifteen years. “That was a long weekend!” Martin quips.
Like his cousin Mick Molloy, he could train only at night after a long day’s work in London. He became a nocturnal runner like his cousin. There was no other option and even London could be a pleasant place to train at night. Ten million people sleeping and dreaming their dreams around you. The sound of your own footsteps on the pavement. A few people wandering home after a night out. A cat scurrying over a wall. Quiet streets where old ghosts meet.
When he returned from London in 1986, he joined the masters ranks at the O40 stage. That went “all right”. Got on teams and trained a bit harder. Onward and upwards. In 2015, the GCH athlete won silver in the M65 2000m steeplechase in the World Masters in Lyon in France. Other successes followed.
(to be continued)
Sunday Mass in Kanturk
The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Kanturk is where I received my First Holy Communion and Confirmation. I was married in Castlemagner but that’s a story for another day.
I was back there lately on a visit home.
This beautiful window is behind the altar. I must make enquiries about it but it seems to me to depict maybe the annunciation and the assumption.
I associate this custom with Protestant churches. In Kanturk, the celebrant priest exits first and stands at the door greeting the massgoers.
From the Presentation Yearbook 1086
And they are still going strong..a great service!
Ireland’s national symbol is not a shamrock. It’s a harp.