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Hugh Gallagher – still making an impact at 91

 

Hugh Gallagher Civic Reception 1

Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr John Campbell presents 91-year-old Hugh Gallagher from Carrigart with his scroll to mark his Civic Reception hosted by the council. Also in the photo are (l-r): Chief Executive Seamus Neely, Rosemarie Gallagher, Cllr Ian McGarvey who proposed the reception, Hugh Gallagher, Bernadette Gallagher and His Lordship, Most Rev Dr Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe.

 

The remarkable achievements of 91-year-old Hugh Gallagher from Carrigart were proof that age was no barrier to a full, healthy and active life.

 

His dedication to sport, his family and his county were all praised at a Civic Reception held in his honour by Donegal County Council last Tuesday afternoon.

 

The Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr John Campbell described Mr Gallagher as “a remarkable man” adding his achievements spoke for themselves.

 

“His will power, stamina and dedication to sport are a great example to all of us,” he said.

 

Chief Executive Seamus Neely added this reception was timely in that the council had just launched its first Age Friendly Strategy to improve the quality of life of the older generation in Donegal and Mr Gallagher’s achievements proved how a healthy, active lifestyle really worked.

 

This theme was expanded by Cllr Ian McGarvey (Independents) who had initially proposed the reception for Mr Gallagher. He stressed the importance of encouraging older people to remain active.

 

“Life is about living and staying healthy,” he said.

 

Other speakers representing the other political groupings on the council also spoke namely Cllr Mick Quinn (Sinn Fein), Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh (Fine Gael) and Cllr Ciaran Brogan (Fianna Fail).

 

Mr Gallagher thanked everyone involved in organising the reception saying it was a great honour for him. He paid particular tribute to his wife Rosemary, who was currently in hospital and their family for their ongoing support and encouragement. He also revealed he was still winning medals and was in training for more high profile events at home and abroad.

 

Special guest of the Gallagher family at the reception was His Lordship, Most Rev Dr Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe. He described Mr Gallagher as “an inspiration” for everyone and spoke of how he knew him as a fellow parishioner and a man who had achieved much for his area and county at local, national and international levels.

 

After the presentation of the commemorative gifts by the Cathaoirleach, an informal reception followed with refreshments at the nearby Old Courthouse Bistro.

 

Hugh Gallagher Civic Reception 2

Members of the Gallagher family celebrate with Hugh (front row, centre) at the Civic Reception ceremony at the County House in Lifford. Also in the photo are (l-r) front row: Most Rev Dr Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe; Cllr Ian McGarvey, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr John Campbell and the council’s Chief Executive, Seamus Neely.

 

Roll of Honour

Born in Creevy, Carrigart in 1924, Hugh competed in sport from a young age taking part in athletics and cycling throughout the county and all over Ulster. He moved to Scotland and England for a period to work and had to curtail his sporting activities as a result.

 

Twenty-eight years ago Hugh was bitten by the sports bug once again and began competing in veterans’ athletics, now called the Masters athletic championships.

 

His medal haul started when he won the Donegal 56lb hammer title. That same year Hugh entered his first Masters competition, winning three silver medals.

 

He has now won 166 All Ireland gold medals in athletics and Irish weight throwing championships. He has also won 26 world gold, two silver and two bronze; 23 European gold medals, 25 British gold medals, 26 Scottish and Welsh gold, Donegal and Ulster medals

 

Hugh has competed for Ireland in 16 different countries and carried the Irish flag on several occasions; taken part in nine World Masters athletic championships in England, South Africa, Australia, Spain, Puerto Rico, Hungary, Italy, France and Ireland as well as representing the country in the European Masters athletic championships in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Poland and again in Ireland.

 

Hugh holds world records at different age groups and events - from 4kg to 56lb in weights, long jump, 5000m track walk and the 60m sprint. He broke the British all comers record in the weight throw, hammer throw, long jump and triple jump. Hugh also competed for Ireland in an International 3000m walk in the Phoenix Park where he was the only winner for Ireland.



Throughout his career Hugh has competed in numerous indoor and outdoor  national and international events such as the Scottish Indoor championships in the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow; the British Indoor Championship in the International indoor arena in Cardiff, the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham and secured honours in a variety of disciplines including athletes, the shot putt, discus, javelin, hammer, heavy weight throw, long jump and the weight pentathlon, the Goulding hammer, the Grenade throw, triathlon and the 56lb sling.

 

Athletics Ireland officials made a presentation to Hugh marking the fact he was the first Irish person to win track and field medals at over 90 years of age.

 

One of his most coveted honours was when he was selected as the Donegal Person of the year in 1996.

 

The Gallagher family are probably one of the most renowned sporting family’s in Donegal and indeed of all Ireland. They won the best athletic family in Donegal at the millennium Donegal Sports Star Awards.

 

Hugh Gallagher Civic Reception 3

Members of the Gallagher family and special guests at the Civic Reception in honour of Hugh Gallagher which was held at the County House, Lifford. Also included are Cathaoirleach of the Council Cllr John Campbell,  Chief Executive, Seamus Neely, Most Rev Dr Philip Boyce, Bishop of Raphoe; local councillors Liam Blaney, Michael McBride, Mick Quinn, Gerry McMonagle and Ian McGarvey who originally proposed the reception.

 

 

 

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