Famous Runner Acknowledged

On Friday evening last one of Ireland’s forgotten heroes John McGough was fittingly honoured by the unveiling of a dedicated art piece, which is located at Laurel Hill.

The art piece to the Castleblayney man which was installed by Castleblayney Regeneration Committee under the auspices of Carrickmacross/Castleblayney Municipal District will now serve as lasting acknowledgement to the athletic and GAA achievements which span over an era of 50 years.

In front of a large crowd the art piece was unveiled by the Cathaoirleach of Carrickmacross/Castleblayney Municipal District, Aidan Campbell, himself an accomplished athlete.

The evening’s proceedings were conducted by Annmarie McHugh, Chairperson of Castleblayney Regeneration Committee, who began by welcoming all present, in particular Minister Heather Humphreys.

Minister Humphreys praised the work of Castleblayney Regeneration Committee and spoke of the importance of using art in public places to highlight achievements and to raise awareness and an appreciation of art.

Annmarie also praised and acknowledged the work of Tommy McGuire, manager of Castleblayney Community Centre who has conducted a major research on the “Runner McGough” and who was instrumental in putting the art piece and plaque.

John McGough was born on the 20th January 188. At a very early age John‘s parents decided to emigrate to Glasgow in Scotland to begin a new life. After his schooling John found work as a postman and developed a keen interest in athletics. He joined the local Bellahouston Harriers Athletics Club and soon became the dominant force in Scottish Miling in the first decade of the twentieth century.

At one time he held every Scottish record from 1000 yards to 4 miles.  He won a total of 12 Scottish AAA titles.  Most noteworthy of these was his remarkable achievement in winning the Scottish title in the Mile for six years in succession 1902-’07.

In 1906 John was chosen as one of the athletes to represent Great Britain at the Intercalated Olympic Games in Athens. McGough excelled and in an enthralling sprint for the line finished in second place to take an Olympic Silver behind reigning Olympic Champion James Lightbody of the USA.

John McGough retired from Athletics in 1910 and returned to Castleblayney in 1915 where he took up residence in Annaglaive. His interests then moved to GAA and he became one of the founders of the Blackhill Gaelic Football Club.  It is reported that John’s work as postman in the Blackhill area of Glasgow and links that other club founders had with that area in Glasgow were the factors in naming the Club by that name.

While back home John turned his trade to helping injured football players and soon became a reputable masseuse for many local football teams and other injured individuals.  His talents were later recognised by the Management of Cavan GAA and in 1947 he travelled to New York as part of the background team of the famous Cavan team who won the first and ever All Ireland to be played outside the Country.

John himself died aged 86 on 23rd April 1967, while a patient in St. Mary’s Hospital.