Plaque to be unveiled for famous Limerick bred Grand National winner Foinavon

Fifty years since rank outsider won at Aintree

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan

Plaque to be unveiled for famous Limerick bred Grand National winner Foinavon

Foinavon jumps the last in the 1967 Aintree Grand National

FIFTY years ago a rank outsider by the name of Foinavon lined up for the Aintree Grand National.

Odds of 100/1 were probably generous – the horse’s owner Cyril Watkins had such little faith in his chances that he was not even at the racecourse. But in one of the most famous races of all time, a loose horse veered dramatically to his right at the 23rd fence and a pile-up ensued. The race was practically brought to a halt.

Foinavon’s jockey, John Buckingham was so far behind that he was able to jump the fence on the wide outside, steer clear of the chaos and gallop home. Some jockeys remounted but they couldn’t catch the plucky animal. That obstacle was later named the Foinavon fence in honour of the winner.

And this Friday night, April 21 at 7.30pm the parish of Pallasgreen-Temblebraden will honour the horse that was bred locally by Timothy (Ted) Ryan of Cross.

Foinavon was also broken-in by Gus McCarthy, Reask, Willie Harding, Newtown and Dan Kavanagh, Oola.

Ger O’Connell said a plaque will be unveiled at 7.30pm on Friday in the community park.

“The Aintree Grand National is over for another year and Pallasgreen has proud links to the famous race. We feel proud of its connection to one of the biggest upsets the race’s history,” said Ger.

The Fennessy family of Kilduff gifted the beautiful piece of limestone for the permanent reminder. 

The ceremony will commence with a bag piper leading horses and riders carrying the famous Foinavon colours.

The race commentary will be aired before speeches from local community volunteers.

Then, daughter of Ted Ryan, Jill McCormack and a special guest will unveil the plaque.

A sod from Cross, the townland where Foinavon was bred, and a horsehoe will be placed on the stone.

Proceedings will finish in O’Dwyers where Foinavon’s moment of triumph will be shown on a big screen.

Ger said all are welcome to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations. 

“Incidentally, the unveiling is only a few yards away from a statue to another champion – Paddy Ryan, Olympic gold medal winner in hammer throwing and silver medal in weight throwing at the 1920 Antwerp games. Paddy also held the world record for 25 years,” said Ger.

Meanwhile, the parish is also planning for future generations. Pallasgreen Community Council has announced details of its plans for the refurbishment and extension of the community centre and playground.

The community council was reconstituted last year as it was felt that the centre, opened in 1986, needed to be modernised and developed to fulfil the needs of the parish today.

“The renovations will bring it up to modern standards and will include facilities to suit young and old and all organisations in the parish.

“A playground is to be put in place to suit the demands of our younger generation. The playground will help children develop physical co-ordination, strength, and flexibility, as well as providing recreation and enjoyment,” said Ger.

A major fundraising drive has commenced. Backing a couple of 100/1 winners like Foinavon would go a long way!