Glengoole Community Group reports:
The village of Glengoole, Thurles, Co. Tipperary will be fully ‘en fête’ on Sunday December 27th 2015, when ‘on the dot’ of 12:00 noon, local athletic hero, Patsy Fitzgerald will be honoured officially in his native parish.
In the 1940’s and 50’s Patsy was one of Tipperary and Ireland’s best cross country and middle distance athletes. During a glittering career he won thirty four All Ireland Medals, together with hundreds of other awards and accolades nationwide. Patsy had the distinction of winning the All Ireland National Athletic and Cycling Association (N.A.C.A) Senior Cross Country title at the tender age of just sixteen years, thus adding to the junior All Ireland title he had won previously that season.
Later on he changed his allegiance to the A.A.U. and was almost unbeaten there in senior cross country, achieving five individual titles in 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, and 1953 respectively. Coolcroo’s début in the A.A.U. junior All Ireland was on a snow-covered course in Belfast in late 1947. Patsy surprised the star-studded assembled field when he won in a canter, taking home to Coolcroo the team prize, while racing against Co Meath’s Kevin Maguire, latter who had previously beaten John Joe Barry (the “Ballincurry Hare”).
On the track Patsy was equally as impressive, winning the All Ireland 10 miles flat A.A.U.E All Ireland championship in 1952 at Shelbourne Stadium, Dublin, from a field of fourteen of the best distance runners in the country. By then he had represented Ireland five times in international cross-country championships. He was on course for inclusion on the Irish Olympic Team for Helsinki, but decided against it. He has a unique record of winning A.A.U. novice, junior and senior titles in the same year.
Patsy won several Co Tipperary championship medals on track and cross-country, A.A.U. medals over 3 miles and 10 miles track, 3-miles open international flat race in Reading, England as well as prizes at open sports throughout Ireland. Just some of the highlights of a glittering career that made him the toast of Tipperary, Ireland and the Coolcroo and Ballincurry clubs and of course his much loved native parish of Gortnahoe/Glengoole.
In later years Patsy received many awards for his athletic achievements – accolades such as the ‘Knocknagow Award’, ‘County Board Hall of Fame Award’, ‘Coolcroo Golden Jubilee Award’ and many more. But this honour on Sunday December 27th will be very special, when he is acclaimed in his own village, just down the road from his native Poynstown. Following a plaque unveiling ceremony, a free to enter ‘Celebration Road Race’ will be held; while a special souvenir booklet will also be available to all those attending on the day.
The organisers, Glengoole Community Group extend a Cead Mile Failte to all in attendance, including old athletes. It will be a great sporting occasion to honour an outstanding athlete, whose deeds are unlikely be equalled again. So the unassuming Patsy will relish this plaque to perpetuate him, situated just on his own doorstep.
No doubt Patsy will reminisce with some of his old colleagues and former adversaries from that Golden Age of Tipperary cross country running.