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Tim Smythe

Timothy F. Smythe, athlete and politician, was born near Feakle on April 12th 1905. His parents died when he was young and he was reared at Clonloum, O'Callaghans Mills, by his aunt Mrs. Nora Lenihan. He attended O'Callaghans Mills primary school.

His athletic career began in May 1925 at a sports meeting in Feakle when he finished second in the half mile event and third in a bicycle race. In 1926 he won several races in the 1 to 4 mile distance. That same year at the Limerick Garda sports he won the 1 mile and 4 miles events. In 1927 he started training and competing with Limerick City Harriers and he was introduced to cross-country running. Tim finished tenth in the All-Ireland junior championship at the Phoenix Park, Dublin. O'Callaghans Mills didn't yet have a club of their own so in 1928 Tim was invited to join the Ryan Athletic Club in Thurles, County Tipperary. During the subsequent track season he won 3 and 5 mile Munster championships, in addition to numerous other wins in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.

An Athletic Club was founded in O'Callaghans Mills in October 1928. Tim, now with his native parish, finished in second and third place in the individual placings at the 1929 All-Ireland junior and senior championships. Taking third place in the senior competition earned him a place on the Irish team at the International cross-country championships in Paris. 1929 was a successful year for Tim and he won many Munster track and two inter-county championships. He later took part in the three country International series involving England, Scotland and Ireland, coming in first. In 1930 he won the first All-Ireland individual championship and once again he was chosen for the International cross-country team running at Leamington Spa. Further Munster championship success followed and he also won the Daily Express Cup and various county sports events. In 1931 he captured the All-Ireland senior individual title.

Tim Smythes finest hour was on 28th March, 1931 at Baldoyle Racecourse near Dublin. He won the World cross-country championship in a time of 48 minutes 52 seconds, 19 seconds ahead of the Englishman, Winfield. Despite the bad weather conditions, Tim had beaten some of the world's best runners including Deaken and Evenson from England. This win was the climax of his running career but he went on to win many more races. In the 1931 track season he was successful in twenty-two events, over distances from 1 mile to 10 miles and including 5,000 metres in the Ireland versus France contest. He won again in the 1932 senior cross-country championship and qualified for a place on the International team for that years championship held in Brussels. Later that year he represented Ireland against Scotland in Edinburgh. Between 1929 - 1937 Tim won ten All-Ireland championships and was on the International cross-country team on nine consecutive occasions. He won every Munster track championship from 1 to 6 miles. He won hundreds of medals and prizes during his running career and continued to take part in competitive athletics until 1949.

Tim Smythe entered politics in 1948 when he was a founder member in Clare of Clann na Poblachta. He unsuccessfully contested the General Election for the party. He was first elected to Clare County Council in 1950 on a Clann na Poblachta ticket. After Clann na Poblachta dissolved he became an Independent candidate and in three subsequent elections he topped the poll. He was a member of the Council until 1974 when he retired from politics. He was also a member of Ennis U.D.C. from 1967 to 1974.

Tim was also involved in G.A.A. affairs. He was Treasurer of Clare County G.A.A. Board from 1959 to 1963 and a member of Eire Og hurling club. He trained the Ennis Faughs team to win the County Intermediate Championship in 1945. His innovative training methods also helped Eire Og, Ennis, to win two senior titles in 1956 and 1957. In addition to his athletic and political interests he was a keen huntsman and was a staunch member of the Old Mill Street Harriers, Ennis, with whom he hunted every Sunday morning.

Tim Smythe was married to Ennis born Maura Duggan and they had three sons and five daughters. All members of the family had sporting interests.

Timothy F. Smythe died at his residence in Cahercalla, Ennis in 1982 following a brief illness. He is buried at Drumcliffe cemetery.

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Tim Smythe