A guide to trace your ancestors from Lurgan, County Armagh and from the County of Armagh

Lurgan Athletic Club Meeting 1874

Lurgan Athletic Club Sports.

The Belfast News-Letter,
Monday, September 14,


Lurgan Athletic Club.
Patron – The Right Hon. Lord Lurgan, K.P.
Executive Committee.
William Crawford, F. W. Magahan,
John Hancock, J.P., James Malcolm, J.P.,
James Heron, John Johnston.
Alexander A. Luton,  
Treasurer – James Macoun.
George Haslett, Courtney Johnston.


LURGAN, SATURDAY – The fourth annual meeting in connection with the local Athletic Club was held here today in Lord Lurgan’s demesne. The weather was beautifully fine, and a vast assemblage of persons congregated within the noble grounds so generously placed at the disposal of the club by Lord Lurgan. Each succeeding year witnesses an increase in the popularity of the annual sports of the club, and they have now become one of the chief athletic meetings in Ulster, if not in Ireland. At none other could better racing of jumping be observed, while it vies with the Dublin College Park sports, and surpasses all others, in point of attracting immense¬†and brilliant attendance. The demonstration of spectators to-day was most imposing, rank and fashion, wealth, beauty, and the “commonality” all joining in appreciation and praise of the exhibition of manly health and muscular vigour, so well brought before them. Independent of the club, and extraneous to the undoubted merit of the sports, there was a wonderful inducement held out to visitors in the magnificent demesne itself. It is needless to attempt to describe again the beauties of a place so well known and to which but feeble justice can be done by words. It is better simply to state that never before did its combination of water, foliage, and vista look more charmingly fresh and grand. The old trees towered now majestically as ever in the strong sunlight, and cast a refreshing shade around, forming thus a doubly pleasing retreat for the stroller and an avenue to peaceable reflection, if not a refining sentimentality. The arena designed for the display of physical culture was corded off in the usual manner. The ground so arranged had but one fault, and that was its somewhat undulating nature. Otherwise it was admirable, and under such circumstances the defect was easily overlooked. On an advantageous site the grand stand – which well deserved its title – was constructed, a sufficient space being allotted at its base for promenading, if the occupants were so inclined. The events on the programme numbered twenty-four, and all were carried out most satisfactory.

Lord Lurgan had a distinguished number of visitors to Brownlow House for the occasion, including :-

the Marquis and Marchioness of Kildare and the Ladies Fitzgerald; Mr. and Mrs. James Brownlow and Miss Caroline Brownlow;
the Countess of Antrim and Lady Caroline McDonnell; Mr. G. Francis Lambert,
the Countess of Caledon and Lady Jane Alexander; Captain Ethelstone, 13th Light Infantry;
the Hon. Robert O’Neill, Mr. Maxwell Close,
Sir Charles Brownlow, K.C.B.; Mr. Barton, 13 Light Infantry;
Mr. J. P. Ward, Mr. Acheson St. George.


Besides these, his lordship issued invitations to luncheon for to-day to the following company :-

The Earl and Countess of Charlemont,                                             Mr., Mrs. and the Misses Alexander, Acton;
Sir James and Lady Strouge, Captain and Mrs. Craig,
Sir Thomas and the Hon. Lady and Miss Bateson, Mr. and Mrs. McGeough Bond, Drumsill;
his Grace the Primate, Mr. and Mrs. R. Shelton, The Argory;
Mr. and Mrs. George Beresford, Mr. and Mrs. William Bond, The Argory;
General and Mrs. Warre, Mr. and Mrs. M. Synnot, Ballymoyer;
Captain Clarke, A.D.C., and Mrs. Clarke, Mr. and Mrs. John Reilly, Scarva;
Sir Thomas McClure Bart, and Miss McClure, Colonel and Mrs. Simpson,
the Mayor of Belfast and Mrs. Henderson, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Templar,
Mr., Mrs. and Miss Close, and Mr. Close (jun.); Mr. and Mrs. Boyle, and Mr. Hugh Boyle,
Mr. and Mrs. T. Stannus, and the Misses Stannus; Captain and Mrs. Pekenham, Armagh Militia;
Mr., Mrs. and Miss St. John Blacker, and Mr. Blacker (jun.); Mr. J. G. Winder,
Mr. and Mrs. James Brownlow, Mr. and Mrs. Obre,
Miss Rainey, Mr. and Miss Faussct,
Colonel and Mrs. Cross, Mr. and Miss Cross, Dartan, Armagh; Colonel Marshall and Officers of the 13th Light Infantry, Belfast;
Mr. and Mrs. Burgin, Capt. Blumberg and Officers of the 17th Lancers, Belfast;
Mr. Ynyr and the Hon. Mrs. Burges, Major Bruce and Officers of the 91st Highlanders, Armagh;
Major and Mrs. Beresford, Armagh, Mr. Henry Bruce Armstrong, Killilea;
Arch Deacon of Down and the Misses Gibbs, his Grace the Right Rev. Dr. McGettigan, Armagh;
Mr., Mrs. and Miss Miller, and Mr. Reginald Miller, Mr. and Mrs. James Johnston, Carrickbreda;
Edward Chichester, Esq., Baroness Von Stieglitz and Mr. Stewart Blacker,
John Kingsoote, Esq., Captain and Mrs. Cleland,
Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson, Crowhill, Mr. Leslie, M.P., and Mrs. Leslie, Glasalough;
Mr. and Mrs. Harden, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred C. Trench,
Mr. Harry Brook, Mr. and Mrs. Whelan, Portadown;
Mrs. Bacon, Richhill; Mr. Hancock,
Mr., Mrs. and Miss Cope, and Mr. Cope (jun.), Drummilly; Mr. Dunlop,
Mrs. and the Misses Cope, Loughgall; Mr. Stelfox,
Mr. Francis Cope, Loughgall; Mr. J. G. McMaster,
Mr. Phillips, Mr. Hampton,
Mr. and Mrs. Houston, Orangefield; Mr. Hart,
Mr. and Mrs. McNeile, Parkmount; Mr. J. Whittington,
Rev. S. L’Estrange, Malone; Mr. Hurford,
Rev. T. Eilis, Killilea; Mr. Platt,
Colonel and Mrs. Prior, Captain Harrison.
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Finlay,  


These lists will give a fair presentation of the assemblage which graced the Grand Stand, but it would be impossible to give an adequate selection from the number who thickly lined the cords in a complete circle. The Band of the Armagh Light Infantry, under the leadership of Mr. E. Whitley, bandmaster, was stationed in the enclosure, and performed the following programme of music during the day :-

March: “Kiss me as of old, Mother” Selection: “Trovatore”
Waltz: “Morna” Quadrilles: “Enchantress”
Selection: “Genevieve de Brabant” Pot Pourri: “The Waits”
Quadrilles: “Royal Irish” Polka: “The Love Bird”
Scottisch: “Good Morning” Gallop: “Fox Hunter”
Waltz: “Nymph of the Wave” ¬† ¬†


Lord Lurgan and the members of the executive committee were most assiduous in their endeavours to promote the success of the meeting. The Lurgan Club may well congratulate itself upon having such a noble and active patron and a working committee endowed with so much zeal and energy.

J. S. Whittington, Esq. N.I.C.C., acted as starter;

Lord Lurgan, Thomas Hampton, Esq., and J. T. Hurford officiated as judges;

James Stelfox, Esq., kept the time;

J. G. McMaster discharged the office of call steward, while

Thomas Hampton, Esq., Walter Platt, Esq., (Bell’s Life); W. H. D. Dunlop, Esq., and W. Hume Hart, Esq., performed the duties of referees of walking.

All these gentlemen contributed by their experience towards making the sports what they unquestionably were – a great and gratifying triumph. Appended are the details of the various events :-

100 YARDS FLAT RACE – For members of the Lurgan Athletic Club. First prize, silver gilt handled cup; second, pair of saltcellars; third, silver gilt mug.
The entrants for this event were seven –¬†

James Heron, James Matthews,
R. H. Shepherd, James Jackson,
William Thomas Heron, Peter Duffy.                    
James Gorman,                  


The race was eagerly contested, and the winners had little to boast of. The premier place was taken by James Heron, Gorman coming in second, and W. T. Heron third. Time 11 1-5 secs.

VAULTING BAR – The contest was confined to gentlemen amateurs. Prize, oxydized Grecian vase.
Only two competitors put in an appearance –
A. C. Barton, 13th Light Infantry, Belfast, and W. O. Milner, Liverpool. The latter gentleman, after some clever vaulting, was adjudged the winner, at a height of 6 feet 6 inches.

100 YARDS FLAT RACE – For gentlemen amateurs. First prize, silver gilt biscuit box in bas-relief; second, butter-cooler; third, gilt card-tray.
As in the previous race, seven gentlemen started –

James Heron, S. Bestow, Nottingham Forest F.C.;
J. J. Duffy, Gilford; Robert Gibson, Ulster C.C.;
E. Kelsall, Blackrock A. C.; James Gorman.
Arthur Preston Graves, Donnybrook;  


The result showed James Heron to be again the best man, Kelsall taking the second honours, and Gorman third place. Time, 11 1-5 secs.

HIGH JUMP, WITH POLE – For gentlemen amateurs. Prize, silver biscuit box.
M. A. Ciese, Drumbanacher, and James Jackson entered the arena. Jackson coming out of it victorious, having cleared a height of nine feet. Close, however gave his opponent hard work, the triumph being just obtained with nothing to spare.

120 YARDS FLAT RACE (handicap) – For gentlemen amateurs. First prize, silver gilt dessert case; second, egg boiler; third, engraved silver mug.
This event was run in heats, in the first of which seven gentlemen started –

James Heron, scratch; A. P. Graves, 5 yds;
R. R. Williamson, Pembroke C.C., 4 yds;  James Pinion, Downpatrick C. C., 3 yds;
J. J. Duffy, 4 yds; S. Bestow, scratch.
Edward Kersall, 3 yds;  


Kersall made the running from the first, and passed in succession Graves, Williamson, and Duffy. Heron, who started three yards behind him, ran in beautiful style, and made a remarkable inroad on the separation. Leaving the others behind him, he had almost overhauled Kersall also when the tape was breasted; in fact, to many it seemed a dead heat, not more than an inch or so dividing the two men at the goal. Bestow came in third. Time, 13 2-5 secs.

The second heat was run by –

Francis Cope, Loughgall C.C, 4yds; William Thomas Heron, 4 yds;
James Hurford, jun., Dublin, 4 yds; E. Lingham, Mersey H & H, 3 yds;
Robert Gibson, 3 yds; J. Bird, Mersey H & H, 4 yds.


Heron, Bird, and Hurford kept well to the foreground, and it was doubtful upon which of them success would eventually alight. Heron maintained his priority, but at the close Hurford gave way to Bird, who made a good but unsuccessful fight with Heron for first place. The race was very keen and closely contended to the end. Result – Heron, 1st; Bird, 2nd; Hurford, 3rd. Time 13 1-5 secs.

THREE MILES BICYCLE RACE (handicap) – Open to gentlemen amateurs. First prize, pair bronze vases; second, silver cup; third, opera glass.
This was a very interesting event, and occasioned as much excitement possibly as any other item on the programme. There were four entries –

George Godder, Dublin, 130 yds; W. O. Milner, Liverpool, scratch;
Frederick Vernon, Mersey H & H, 80 yds; William Crossley, Belfast, 130 yds.  


In starting, Milner had to make a very awkward run up rising ground, the others by the handicap having the advantage of a run down on the further side. The mileage was made up of twelve laps or rounds, and before the fourth of these was complete there was good¬†path to the winning man. In the second lap Vernon overhauled Godder and made a good way to the front, succeeded in passing Crossley,¬†in the subsequent laps.¬† Milner, however, picked up his opponents one by one, and at the fifth lap took up the post of honour and maintained it. Vernon was the only one he had to fear, as he made to the finish a good and at times a troublesome second. Milner’s style was remarkable for the ease and gracefulness with which he guided his steed – qualities which became even more apparent while ascending the sloping elevation which marked one portion of the course. Vernon also careered along in a very fine manner, and rode rather a better machine than Milner’s. Crossley third. Time, 16 min. 17¬Ĺ secs.

RUNNING LONG JUMP – Only gentlemen amateurs were eligible for entrance, and three such came forward; the prize being an oxydized Grecian vase.
James Jackson, of the local club, carried of the award from W. O. Milner and J. Bird, by clearing a distance of 20ft 3in.

120 YARDS FLAT RACE (deciding heat) – This was the deciding heat of the previous 120 yds handicap, but in consequences of Bird having hurt his foot in the preceding jump, he was unable to take his place among the starters. The latter, therefore, comprised – Edward Kersall, James Heron, and William Thomas Heron. The event was run in the same time as the first heat – 13 2-5 secs. – and resulted in the places being taken by James Heron, William Thomas Heron, and E. Kersall respectively.

120 YARDS HURDLE RACE – For members of the Lurgan Athletic Club. Prize, silver gilt mug.
Four competitors ostensibly started, but two, James Heron and William Thomas Heron, dropped out after covering the first flight. The remaining two, James Gorman and James Jackson, took the matter very easy, and no especial effort was made by either to outstrip his rival. With as much ease as was consistent with keeping the event a race at all they breasted the tape, Gorman slightly in advance of Jackson. Time, 19 2-5 secs.

ONE MILE FLAT RACE – The race was open to all except professionals. First prize, silver cup, presented by the Right Hon. Lord Lurgan, K.P.; second, breakfast set; third, silver rose cup. The entrants were eight –

J. J. Nunns, Dublin; R. H. Sheppard, L.A.C.;
Thomas Duckett, Liverpool E.S.A.C; James E. Warbuton, Haslingdon A.C.;
H. H. Dwyer, Blackrock A. C.; James Matthews, L.A.C.;
John B. Ferguson, Belfast; Walter Slade, London A.C.


Nunns dropped out in the second lap. Slade and Sheppard made the running between them for a brief¬†space, when Warbuton crept up and passed Sheppard.¬†He was unable, though, to overtake Slade, who kept a grand lead to the end. In the third lap Ferguson came forward in clever style, and ousted Warbuton from second place. In this order the race finished, Warbuton keeping third. Time, 4 min. 39¬Ĺ secs.

410 YARDS FLAT RACE (handicap) – Open to gentlemen amateurs. First prize, oxydized tankard; second, writing set; third, silver jam stand. The competitors were –

R. R. Williamson, Pembroke C.C., 15 yds; S. Bestow, 5 yds;
A. P. Graves, 20 yds; James Hurford, jun., 15 yds;
Christe Stevenson, Derrytrasna, 25 yds; Robert Gibson, 10 yds;
James Pinion, Downpatrick C.C., 15 yds; William Thomas Heron, 15 yds;


From the first the race lay between Heron, Hurford, and Pinion, who kept together with remarkable closeness. In the run home Heron kept very slightly to the front, and never lost the advantage thus gained; but it was only at the tape that Pinion allowed Hurford to actually get in front of him, as he did barely, Pinion being third. Time, 51 2-5 secs.

120 YARDS HURDLE RACE – For gentlemen amateurs. Prize, oxydized beer jug.
Messrs. Bestow, Gorman, and Bird started, Gorman being the successful man. Time, 18 1-5 secs.

HALF MILE FLAT RACE – For gentlemen amateurs. First prize, silver gilt rose water jug; second, oxydized gilt cup; third, fish slice and fork.
The race was well contested between –

J. Heron, Charles Bryan, Liverpool A.C.;
J. J. Nunns, Walter Slade.
J. B. Ferguson,              


Ferguson here proved his metal, and realised the expectations of the many with whom he was a favourite, by attaining the diginty of premier place. He was pushed hard in the endeavour by Slade, who came in second place at his heels. Time, 2 min. 5¬ľ secs.

THREE MILE WALKING MATCH РOpen to all professionals. First prize, silver cup, presented by Lady Lurgan; second, oxydized claret jug; third, potash kettle.

This was looked forward to as par excellence the event of the day, and certainly none was more appreciated. Nine gentlemen answered the summons of the starting bell –

William James Morgan, Atlanta Rowing Club; Henry Webster, Stanley A.C.;
W. M. Worrell, I.C.A.C; Michael Webster, Stanley A.C.;
Joseph Spencer, Knottyash, Liverpool; John Galway, Ulster C.C.;
Wilson Williams, Dundrum; George Matthews.
John Hughes, Liverpool;  


At the “off” Morgan took the lead, but soon gave way to Worrell. In the second lap Henry Webster went in great style to the front, and from then until the conclusion of the race continued to increase his lead. Morgan and Hughes came together in the third lap – Worrell being a bad fourth – and had a most exciting race between them for second place. In fact, as Webster’s coming in first was now a foregone result, all attention was centred in the other phases of the race, of which there were especially two. The struggle between Morgan and Hughes continued exceedingly close until the tenth lap, when Hughes, putting on a spurt, went clear ahead of his adversary. But Morgan was not yet knocked up, so, spurting in turn, he once more placed Hughes at his heels. This little episode was repeated twice in the following lap, while in the meantime Webster looked very much as if he purposed overlapping them all. In the run home Hughes displayed the greater vigour, and took the place he had so well battled for. The other feature of the event was the battle royal between Williams and Matthews. Both competitors were far behind in the race, but kept in the immediate vicinity of each other. The first named gentleman was evidently possessed of considerable more wiriness and determination than physique, while his pro tem rival possessed both qualities with comparatively herculean proportions. Matthews kept scare a yard in advance, and until the final half mile Williams never flinched from his position. The time and pace here began to tell upon him, and he lagged behind, but regathering courage, spurted and recovered his lost ground. Thus it continued until both gentlemen, animated possibly by the same impulse, dropped out. Webster’s walking was the subject of great admiration, his stride and form being as graceful as rapid. The race ended – Webster, 1st; Hughes, 2nd; Morgan, 3rd. Time 22 mins, 51 3-5 secs.

440 YARDS HURDLE RACE (handicap) – For gentlemen amateurs. First prize, silver gilt card-tray; second, silver mug.
The only competitors who put in an appearance were James Heron, 25 yds; S. Bestow, scratch; and James Gorman, 15 yds. The previous labours of Heron seemed to have told on his speed, and he did not turn out so well as in the earlier part of the day. Gorman cleared the flights with great celerity, and landed first at the tape, with Bestow second. Time, 63 4-5 secs.

HALF MILE FLAT RACE (handicap) РFor the members of the Lurgan Athletics Club. First prize, pair of oxydized vases; second, pair of bronze ink-stands; third, parlour ink-stand.
The following started –¬†

R. H. Sheppard, 5 yds;  James Matthews, 40 yds;
W. T. Heron, 20 yds; James Jackson, 40 yds;
James Gorman, 10 yds; Peter Duffy, 80 yds.


Neither Heron, Sheppard, nor Gorman ever collared their two well-placed opponents; Matthews, Jackson, and Duffy coming in the order mentioned. Time, 2 min. 8 sec.

TWO MILE FLAT RACE (handicap) – For gentlemen amateurs. First prize, embossed rose-water dish; second, silver salver; third, case of silver napkin rings.
Half a dozen gentlemen competed –

J. J. Nunns, 150 yds; John B. Ferguson, 170 yds;
Thomas Duckett, 30 yds; R. H. Sheppard, 160 yds;
H. H. Dwyer, 200 yds; J. E. Warbuton, scratch.


The order of starting was maintained until nearly the completion of the first lap, when Warbuton began to overlap those in advance of him. By the fourth lap he had so far succeeded in this as to place himself foremost; Duckett by the same time bringing himself up to second place, with Nunns in his wake. Ferguson now retired, and the race knew no further change until the tape was carried away. Time, 10 min, 7 sec.

440 YARDS FLAT RACE (handicap) – For members of the Lurgan Athletic Club. First prize, oxydized vase; second, pair of oxydized candle-sticks; third, silver mug.
The competitors were six in number –

R. H. Sheppard, 20 yds; James Matthews, 20 yds;
W. J. Heron, 15 yds; James Jackson, 20 yds;
James Gorman, 5 yds; Peter Duffy, 35 yds.


Gorman made a splendid run for it, and passed his opponents one by one; with Heron he had some trouble though before doing so, as the latter contested every inch of the ground, and made at the finish a capital second. Sheppard third. Time, 61 2-5 secs.

RUNNING HIGH JUMP – For gentlemen amateurs. Prize, cake basket.
J. Jackson carried this event successfully by a jump of 5ft 2in, his only opponent being W. O. Milner.

440 YARDS FLAT RACE (handicap) РThis was an interesting event, being confined to schoolboys under 15 years of age. The first prize was a silver watch, the second a cricket bat, the third a knife, and the fourth a knife Рall such as would tempt the youthful ambition to do its utmost.
Twelve boys were handicapped according to their ages, and the start having been effected, a general scramble round the course took place. The winning boys were –

1st: Thomas Henry Matthews, Lurgan, aged 10 yrs; 3rd: Samuel Fryer, Waringstown, aged 11 yrs;
2nd: William Edgerton, Lurgan, aged 11¬Ĺ yrs; 4th: James Lynch, Lurgan, aged 7 yrs.


440 YARDS FLAT RACE РFor weavers in the employment of any manufacturer having an office in Lurgan. Prize, £1.
Only two contested – Thomas H. Best and John Best (jun.), the first of whom proved himself to be the best. Time, 62 4-5 secs.

440 YARDS FLAT RACE РFor the band of the Armagh Light Infantry. First prize, £1.
Some seven or eight members started, first place being taken by Bandsman Cassidy. No little amusement was created by a freak of one of the runners, who, having started, and getting remotely in the background, took a diagonal cut across the course, caught hold of the winning man, and attempted to detain him. Failing in this, he made another sweep over the ground, and rushing in after Cassidy at the tape appeared to believe that he should be credited with coming in second.

1,000 YARDS STEEPLECHASE (handicap) – For gentlemen amateurs. First prize, silver cup, presented by Messrs. Malcolm & Johnston; second, silver teapot; third, double inkstand.
The gentlemen entered –

J. J. Nunns, 25 yds; C. Bryan, scratch.
James Heron, 30 yds;  


In the first lap Nunns got a ducking in the water leap, and a similar fate befell the others in turn before Heron was declared first prizeman and Bryan second. Time, 2 min. 57 sec.

1,000 YARDS STEEPLECHASE – For persons resident in or within ten miles of Lurgan. First prize, 30s; second, 15s. Only two “residenters” took advantage of the opportunity of¬†distinguishing themselves – T. H. Best and John Best, (jun.), and the victory was allowed to remain with the first-named.

This concluded the events of the programme; after which Lady Lurgan graciously handed the various premiums to the successful competitors, amid great cheering. The vast assemblage then separated.


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