Tullamore Sportsfest to be a 'mini-Olympics'
31st August 2017
"WE see this as a mini-Olympics for adults."
That's what next month's inaugural Tullamore Sportfest promises according to the chairman of the organising committee, prominent local athlete, Darren Butler.
The first ever event of its kind takes place at the end of September coinciding with the Pfizer Healthy Towns programme.
Mr Butler, speaking at the official launch on Wednesday night last, revealed the initiative had taken shape following a chance on-street conversation between himself and the President of the local Chamber of Commerce, Anne Starling.
He recalled: "Anne stopped me on the street and said Darren, Tullamore needs a festival. This was around the time of the Offaly Sports Person of the Decade awards, organised by the Offaly Sports Partnership. I attended the awards and realised that we have so many high achievers in sport in such a small county . . . I suggested to Anne that we should have a festival based around sport. The idea was then bounced around and a few others came on-board to support the idea and here we are tonight."
The Sportsfest Chairman said the organisers aim is to hold a week-long festival of sport to help promote Tullamore and its sporting facilities along with raising much needed funds for the participating clubs.
"We see this as a mini Olympics type event for adults and see this growing into one of the recognised festivals around the country over time, similar to the community games," stressed Mr Butler.
He added: "Tullamore has a history of hosting festivals and events very successfully. Take the Tullamore Show which is getting bigger year on year. Last year and this year we are hosting the National Ploughing Championship which attracted record numbers in 2016. Other major events held in Tullamore such as Fleadh Cheoil also attracted record numbers. The Tullamore Half Marathon this weekend has 1000 runners and cannot accommodate anymore runners and The Midnight 7 rugby tournament is now the 2nd largest 7s rugby tournament in the country"
So far , Mr Butler revealed, organisers have over 20 events confirmed "which a great start."
"This is would not be possible without the help and support of Offaly County Council which brought Sean Fennell on board to coordinate this festival. Sean [who acted as M.C. at the launch] has done great work in pulling these events together and has even got interest from clubs not taking part this year but will be involved in 2018."
Mr Butler explained his committee decided to run this festival at the end of September to coincide with the Pfizer Healthy Town Ireland programme which Tullamore is to host for the months of September and October.
In 2018 the festival will be run tat the end of August, building on the success of the Half Marathon and the cycle rally.
He continued: "We are running this event on a very tight budget. Our plan going forward is to get a major sponsor for the festival and attract national coverage to grow our festival. We welcome any members of the public that would like to get involved or suggestions for the festival to contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on our Facebook page."
Officially launching the festival, Cllr Liam Quinn, Cathaoirleach, Offaly Co. Council, observed the county had a great sporting tradition in a variety of different fields.
Eamonn Henry, Offaly Sports Partnership, commended the Chamber of Commerce for becoming involved in the initiative and noted that "from small acorns mighty oaks grow."
"Look at the small beginnings of the Rose of Tralee," he added.
Events finalised to date
Tullamore Tennis Club
Senior open starting on the 25th of September. Singles, Doubles and Mixed Competitions.
Tullamore Angling Club
Open course angling competition on the Saturday (30th) morning. Book in at 9am, fishing at 10am till 2pm at Whitehall. 5 euro entry.
Esker Hills Golf Club
Tournament between Offaly, Laois, Longford and Westmeath county councils, Friday the 29th. 20-24 Players. Ex and current council members. Four ball scramble tournament.
Tullamore Golf Club
Looking at a 3 person mixed team event for the Monday (25th).
Castle Barna Golf Club
Mixed team event in place for the Saturday (30th).
Spartacus Boxing Club
Open training session event on Tuesday 26th at 7pm. Will feature Grainne Walsh doing some sparring against a high level opponent.
Grand Canal 8km run/jog/walk backed by Tullamore Harriers on the 24th September