One Of The 1916 Leaders Had A Rather Unusual Sporting Past

One Of The 1916 Leaders Had A Rather Unusual Sporting Past
By Gary Reilly

Joseph Plunkett was an undoubted hero of the 1916 Rising. The IRB member has been credited as being one of the main driving forced behind the Rising and many have said that it may have been his execution in Kilmainham Gaol that was the key in turning popular opinion in favour of the rebels.

In poor health and having married Grace Gifford in the prison chapel a matter of hours before the firing squad, Plunkett's death in particular came to signify everything the rebels had given up for the country.

That's how he'll go down in Irish history and rightly so. But there was another side to Plunkett that you're unlikely to find in your Leaving Cert history books.

In his Irishman's Diary column in the Irish Times today, Frank McNally has included a rather peculiar sporting tidbit about one of the Easter Rising's most prominent leaders.

Calling it 'the most astoundingly interesting piece of trivia I’ve heard so far in this decade of centenaries concerns' McNally goes on to detail Plunkett's unlikely pastime in his pre-Irish hero days.

He had been a roller skating champion. In Algeria.

Apparently that was a popular past-time during the early 2oth century and while he was in Algiers in 1911 'seeking warm weather respite' for his tuberculosis, Plunkett showed those North Africans how they did it back in the old country. 'It' being roller skating of course.

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His diary from the time interjects some serious thoughts on the current affairs of the day with some lighter notes about going to the rink in the evening.

Quick proposal: the all Ireland roller skating championships to commemorate the Rising next year?

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