The cemetery in question is at St Bartholomew’s Church in Kinneigh, Co Cork – the location of the only round tower with an hexagonal base, as well as headstone commemorating O’Mahony Mór.
This headstone initially stood out for the green lettering. Upon reading, it did raise question as to what was involved in the All Round Gaelic Championship and when did these championships run. Once again, the web reveals.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (G.A.A.) and the Irish Amateur Athletic Association (I.A.A.A.) were both formed in the winter months of 1884/1885. From the Roll of Honour of Athletics Ireland, it appears that both the G.A.A. and the I.A.A.A. held championships in 1885 and 1886 but the I.A.A.A did not have a decathlon event.
The Decathlon of the G.A.A. Championships in 1885 and 1886, their first championships, was won by Tom Wood of Enniskeane – the man recorded in green at Kinneigh. It appears that the Decathlon was first held in 1884 in U.S. and previously called All Round competition – hence reference to All Round Champion.
Searching the web then providing dots to John Flanagan, runner-up to Tom Woods in 1895 who competed in 4 events in three Olympic Games, winning 3 gold and a silver medal.
John Flanagan was a contemporary of the Baby Whale, Pat McDonnell remembered at Trá Bán, a clubmate at Irish Canadian Athletic Club of Tom Longboat, and he competed against both Denis Horgan, commemorated at Lyre. He advised Pat O’Callaghan, remembered at Banteer, prior to his departure for 1928 and 1932 Olympics.
These men competed well over a hundred years ago – a time when Ireland, even Munster, provided a greater number of medal winners in athletic field events than of now, or many years before now.
“His first Irish Championship was won in 1895 when he captured the 28lbs title, which he retained in the following year. This would have conferred no exceptional distinction at such a period. He did not fail to strike a supreme line, however, for at Cobh he beat Mitchel’s seven year old record with the 7lbs weight, his cast 28.32 – 84cm beyond the previous best. On the same day he threw the hammer 45.14m.
“For more than fifty years, Daniel Ferris was secretary of the American Amateur Athletic Union and he knew ‘Babe’ McDonald and the Irish-American athletes that included James Mitchel, John Flanagan, Matthew McGrath, Martin Sheridan and Paddy Ryan. They were ‘larger than life’ he once commented. ‘They were so big’, he remembered’that any three combined weighed nearly 900 pounds. They looked like whales and they could eat.’”
“In August, 1895, on the historical day when James J. Ryan broke the high jump record, John negotiated 22’ in the long jump as a close-up second to Larry Roche of Bruree, and cleared over 46’ in the hop, step and jump as second to Ryan. His first notable hammer win was accomplished here for he beat Denis Carey. In September he was second in the G.A.A. all-around Championship, to Tom Wood of Enniskean, Cork, at Clonmel, with 11 points to spare over Mike Ryan of Rockwell, famous Rugby man.”