Glen Boxing Club will honour the memory of first president Tomás Mac Curtain

THE Glen Boxing Club will officially commemorate their first president and former Lord Mayor of Cork Tomás Mac Curtain at their clubhouse tomorrow night (8pm).

The Glen BC, Ireland’s oldest boxing club, is located on the North Ring Road in Blackpool.

Lord Mayor Dr John Sheehan will lead Friday’s ceremonies. Fionnuala Mac Curtain, granddaughter of Cork’s former first citizen and author of the best-selling memoir of Mac Curtain’s life: 'Remember It’s For Ireland', will be among the guests with members of the Mac Curtain family.

Other guests include former Lord Mayors, city council officials, local business and community leaders, the Blackpool Historical Society, members of St Nicks and Glen Rovers teams and representatives from the boxing fraternity, including the Cork Ex-Boxers and the county board.

The event is part of the official Cork City Council 2020 Commemoration programme. The current Lord Mayor has the distinction of being a Blackpool man holding office 100 years after Blackpool native Mac Curtain was in situ.

Tomás Mac Curtain was murdered on his 36th birthday and Cllr Sheehan will wear the chain of office worn by his patriotic predecessor at the time of his death at this weekend’s observance.

The focal point of the ceremony will see the unveiling of a special commissioned pictorial tribute to Mac Curtain. It will also be an occasion of reading and musical tributes to the life and times of the Glen BC’s first president.

Proceedings will commence when Lord Mayor Sheehan is greeted by the current president of the Glen BC, Michael O’Sullivan. Following this introduction, the Lord Mayor will be led into the hall by well-known piper Norman O’Rourke.

The gathering will stand for the national anthem followed by several marches courtesy of the Butter Exchange Band before Cllr Sheehan delivers an oratory on the theme of Mac Curtain’s legacy to Cork and Ireland.

Ten candles, representing each decade of the last century, will be lit and held by Cork’s former Lord Mayors.

A prayer reflecting on Mac Curtain’s contribution to the boxing club will be read by Father John O’Donovan from the North Cathedral. Poignantly, it was Father Butts from the same Church who gave the last rites to Mac Curtain a century ago.

Students from the North Mon where Mac Curtain was educated will sing a tribute to the martyr in Irish while the Glen Male Choir will facilitate requests including Only Our Rivers Run Free.

The musical interlude will be followed by a five-minute reading outlining Mac Curtain’s role in the Blackpool Community and his part in setting up the Glen BC.

Denis Lane will sing three arias and The Butter Exchange Band will deliver a rendition of one of Mac Curtain’s much-loved pieces A Nation Once Again.

The unveiling of the Commissioned tribute to Mac Curtain follows. The Emerald Ballad Group with George O’Mahony will also entertain guests and refreshments will be served.

Mac Curtain was born in 1884 in Mourne Abbey near Mallow. When he was three-years-old, his family moved to Blackpool. Educated at the North Mon, he developed a love of Irish music, poetry and history.

In 1904, he became involved with St Nicks and also developed an interest in politics and business. While he was with St Nicks he became a friend of Pakey O’Mahony who played full back with the team.

At 27 years of age, O’Mahony took up boxing and went on the become heavyweight champion of Ireland after stopping the durable Private Dan Voyles in the 16th round on St Patrick’s Day in London in 1913.

Following O’Mahony’s retirement from the ring in 1916, a group of locals met in the Crosslane area of Blackpool to form the Glen BC, five years after the IABA was established in Dublin.

Among those attending on the night the club was founded were O’Mahony and his brothers Mickaleen and John, Willie Ryan, Pat O’Shea and Connie Donovan. O’Mahony also invited Mac Curtain to attend. Cork’s ex Lord Mayor immediately began to organise the club and was duly elected president. An influential man, Mac Curtain had, within two weeks, secured a lease on a terraced house on Springlane from the Goulding Fertiliser Company. The Glen BC trained out of the house. Champions and medallists began to emerge.

At this point, Mac Curtain was also elected Leeside’s first citizen, but he was still determined, along with his boxing colleagues, to lay the foundation stone for Ireland’s oldest boxing club.

Tomorrow evening, the Glen BC, the elder statesman of Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport, will proudly commemorate their first president.

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