by ehistoryadmin on October 10, 2023

“Go-As-You-Please” Pedestrian Race From Monasterevin to Kildare, 1904

This photograph  was donated to the Kildare Local Studies Collections by Seán McCabe, Monasterevin in 2002. It depicts competitors at a “Go-As-You-Please” Pedestrian Race that took place on a route from Monasterevin via Duneany to Kildare and back again on Sunday 28 August 1904. “Go-As-You-Please” races were usually a precursor to modern day race walking, though competitors were permitted to jog on occasion. Pedestrianism events took place across Ireland in the late 19th century and into the early 1900s. A similar event had taken place between Inchicore and Naas the previous month.

Several public meetings were held in Monasterevin in advance of this event, with representatives from neighbouring counties in attendance along with townspeople, to co-ordinate the day. John T Heffernan, Secretary of Kildare County Council, was elected Chair of a large meeting in August in which subscriptions were gathered towards the event that had a first prize of £10. The final public meeting days beforehand, reported in the local press, heard appeals for fair play from spectators, that all vehicles were to stay behind competitors (unless officials) and also a reminder to those in attendance on the Sunday to be on their best behaviour “so that the enemies of Sunday sport, who seek occasions for censure in our conduct, would be disappointed’. The surplus funds raised by the event went towards the expenditure of lighting the town.

The Nationalist & Leinster Times of Saturday 3 September 1904 carried a detailed report on the race itself, including the large crowd gathered in Kildare town on the tougher outbound leg where a gold medal was awarded to Conway, a militaire from Fethard Barracks, for being first to arrive. The race itself was won by W.J. Flynn of Malahide Road, Dublin, who completed the full course in a time of 1 hour 44 minutes and 50 seconds. His brother J.P. acted as pacemaker, with both experienced athletes in this sort of event. The newspaper also reported on the brazen attempt by Patrick Gibson of Kildare, described as a grey-bearded older man, to win the race after travelling out the road for one mile and waited until the leading competitors were on the return journey before re-joining the course! Both he and Private J O’Brien, 11th Hussars, who crossed the line in second position were both disqualified.

The reported stated that around sixteen contestants finished the course. The following was the list of those that started:

James Smyth, Oghill, Monasterevan; James Steele, Cooleen, Moate: John Quinn, Doneany, Kildare; Edward Quinn, do, do, Private J O’Brien, 11th Hussars, Curragh Camp; Frederick James Pollard, Offaly Lodge, Kildare; Bernard Blynn, Quinsboro’, Monasterevan; James Harney, 2 Thomas Street, Clonmel; Thomas Cardiff, Eyre Street, Newbridge; John Buggy, Money Stradbally; J Ward, RHA, Newbridge; Martin Griffin, Blackbull, Drogheda; William Cusack, 50 Iveagh Buildings, New Bride Street, Dublin; Edward Murphy, Timahoe, Kilcock; Gunner McKillop, RFA, Kildare; James Gallacher, 18 Clonmore Terrace, Ballybough Road, Dublin; Private Ayers, 4th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, Curragh Camp; Richard Tisdall, 14 Hardwick Place, Dublin; P Doyle, Eyre Street, Newbridge; Michael Dalton, 16 Denmark Street, Dublin; Patrick A Tyrrell, 54 Manor Street, Dublin; Michael Kemmey, Doneany, Kildare; Daniel O’Brien, 55 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin; Frank McArdle, 3 Hardwick Arch, Dublin; Joseph Wrenn, Bracklin, Derrygolan, Kilbeggan; Barney Coffey, Donadea, Kilcock; Jer Kenna, Lea, Portarlington; John P Kelly, 142 Upper Abbey Street, Dublin; John Woods, Lea, Monasterevan; E O’Hanlon, Oakmount Cottage, Glasnevin; John J Whelan, 2 Brunswick Place, Dublin; P Conway, Barracks, Fethard, Co Tipperary; Patrick Gibbons, Kildare; Corporal W C Brinckman, RFA Newbridge; W J Flynn, 3 Casino Terrace, Malahide Road Dublin; J P Flynn, 3 Casino Terrace, Malahide Road, Dublin.

The top six were 1. W J Flynn 2. James Harney, 3. J. Ward 4. James Gallacher 5. Richard Tisdall 6. William Cusack.


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