All in Colemanstown pay tribute to the legendary Willie Morris, formerly of Newcastle, Athenry who passed away on Monday morning just months shy of his 99th birthday. Willie, an uncle of the Burke family, Tiaquin, Colemanstown had a very distinctive running career. We were honoured to have Willie present the winners prizes for Colemanstown’s first 10k run in 2011. Originally from Newcastle, Athenry, he was well used to the sound of the starting-gun and won 4 NACA – 9 mile championship cross country titles in 1953 (held in Dublin); 1956 (held in Clonmel) when he also won The Irish Independent’s ‘Sports Star of the Week’; 1958 (when the event was held locally in Athenry) & 1959 (held in Louth); almost all these titles won in his bare feet. At the pinnacle of his running career he won the Crumlin marathon in 1960 and that same year he won the Co. Intermediate Hurling Championship with Newcastle and toured the USA in 1961 as a member of Derrydonnell Athletic Club. In 1966 he was a member of the Galway team who won the cross country All Ireland championships in Dromoland, Co. Clare and was also a member of the Derrydonnell relay team who beat Donore Harriers, Dublin in a road race from Galway city to Ballinasloe.
He was a determined individual with a hugely resilient spirit running right up until he was over 80 years of age, winning many veteran races abroad. Running for Willie was so much more than a competitive activity through the roads and through the fields where he began his running career as a cross-country runner, but also for the lifelong friends and connections he made along the way. Running was his way of life – he often ran to work as part of his training regime. Willie was a legendary figure in Irish running and a history maker in the process. His running genes are evident today in his grand-nephew Gearoid Rohan, Tiaquin, an accomplished runner with Athenry AC & also in his grand-niece, Catherine Burke, Colemanstown.
Willie passed away peacefully on Monday morning. His funeral takes place at St. Oliver Plunkett Church, Renmore tomorrow, Wednesday from 5-7pm. Funeral mass at 11am on Thursday morning followed by burial in Bohermore cemetery. He is survived by his wife Winnie & son Liam. We express our deepest sympathies to his family at this time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anam.
Thanks to Gerald Corbett, Newcastle, Athenry for supplying Willie’s competition details.