Runners, joggers and walkers in Limerick will be able to follow in the footsteps and pay homage to some of the county’s greatest athletes after the launch of the first of the Limerick Olympian fitness trails. The 2.3km ‘Niall O’Shaughnessy trail’, named after the Adare native who competed in the 1976 Games in Montreal, is the first of nine ideal running routes which are dotted around the city and county.
The idea was first touted last year during Limerick’s reign as European City of Sport, with the chief aims being to improve the surface condition of the popular running trails, raise awareness of the routes, re-brand them to honour Limerick’s Olympians, and subsequently boost athletics participation levels in the county which has become synonymous with sporting excellence.
At the launch, attended by several former Limerick Olympians such as Jim Hogan, Neil Cusack and Rosemary Ryan, the ribbon was cut to open the trail by Dermot Henihan of the Olympic Council of Ireland. Niall O’Shaughnessy, after whom the trail was named, had a glittering middle-distance career which saw him become a standout performer for the University of Arkansas, highlighted by his European Indoor mile record of 3:55.4 in 1977. A year earlier, he represented Ireland over 800m and 1500m at the Montreal Olympics.
Building on the idea of London’s Olympic legacy of increased youth participation, a group of local schoolchildren were the first to take to the trail in Adare, led on an easy run by Sydney Olympian Rosemary Ryan. The next pair of fitness trails to be launched in the coming weeks will be in Limerick City, honouring a pair of Irish athletics luminaries in Frank O’Mara and Neil Cusack, who both grew up in the city.
By Cathal Dennehy