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A Peter O'Mahony-Esque Story Of Patriotic Fervour from 1906

A Peter O'Mahony-Esque Story Of Patriotic Fervour from 1906
By Paul O'Hara
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If we were to hand out a John Hayes Award for Public Display of Unashamed Patriotic Zeal (we still might, you know), 2014 may well be wrapped up already after Peter O'Mahony's anthem-belting, Welshman-humbling display last Saturday. However, a story from the Intercalated Games of 1906 might just surpass the Corkman's antics.

In a clip doing the rounds on Reddit, it is recounted that after winning gold in the triple jump and silver in the long jump, Wicklow's Peter O'Connor scaled the flagpole during his own medal ceremony to raise an 'Erin Go Bragh' flag while Irish and Irish-American athletes fought off guards at the bottom of the pole.

Three Irish athletes had been entered for the games by the GAA and the IAAA and were under the impression that they would compete in Athens as a separate team with their own distinctive kit and flag. However, it was announced that since Ireland didn't have its own National Olympic Committee they were deemed to be British athletes..


The leading long jumper of his day, O'Connor's finishes and subsequent demonstration may have been expected by the IOC. In Dublin in 1901, he set the first official world record of 24ft 11¾ins (7.61m), which went unbroken for 20 years. It remained the Irish national record for a frankly ridiculous 89 years.

The 1906 Games were considered to be Olympics at the time, but the medals awarded are not recognised by the IOC today.

O'Connor's was not the first display of Irish nationalism at the Games -  in 1896, Dubliner and Irish Party MP John Pius Boland had been in Athens to visit a friend during the inaugural Modern games. In true Victorian, Corinthian fashion, the friend entered him into the tennis competition and he won gold in the men's singles and doubles competitions. When the Union Flag was run up the pole during his first ceremony, he suggested that the Irish flag should be a gold harp on a green field. The organisers agreed to have one ready should he win again. Like all Irish-won medals before 1924, Boland's medal is still credited to Great Britain.




The flag used by O'Connor at the medal ceremony.
Credit: Vinnie Fitzpatrick, Wikipedia.

H/T: Reddit

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