Farrell Treacy, Team GB
IF YOU happen to be watching the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from your sitting room in Limerick, you best keep an eye out for one competitor with local roots.
Farrell Treacy is a 22-year-old short track speed skater with Team GB, and he has glided all the way onto the Olympic team that will compete in the next week for a coveted medal.
It’s a far cry from hurling at Claughaun, where his grandfather, Limerick city man Michael Purcell, clashed the ash 60 odd years ago.
And his grandmother, Mary Quaid from Castlemahon, also comes from a big GAA family - she is related to the hurlers of the same name - so it seems that the family’s sporting gene hasn’t gone anywhere in the third generation.
“We are so proud,” said Farrell’s mum, Catherine Treacy (née Purcell), who remembers visiting Limerick throughout her childhood with her parents.
“I’m so excited and so nervous at the same time,” she told the Limerick Leader, ahead of flying out to South Korea to cheer her son on.
Mary and the late Michael emigrated to Birmingham in the 1950s, and subsequently reared their family there.
Proud grandmother Mary, 83, still lives in Birmingham and comes home regularly. She is currently holidaying in New Zealand.
Catherine said: “We now try to get over to Ireland at least once a year, but we don’t always get to Limerick.” Her husband has roots in Roscommon and Fermanagh, so they are often up the country.
“Usually we’ll go out to see family in West Limerick, around Newcastle West,” she said.
Pointing out that two of Ireland’s skaters are actually from Canada, Catherine joked that her sons should be skating for Ireland.
Of her four sons, three are avid skaters.
“We are quite lucky in Solihull as we are about a 15 or 20 minute drive away from a rink. Farrell’s friend in school was doing it, so he said, ‘why don’t you come skating?’
“None of them, when they started, could skate. All they’ve ever been taught is how to speed skate. So Farrell started, and Ethan (19) started a couple of months later, and then when Niall was eight he wanted to have a go,” said Catherine.
“Farrell trains full-time in Nottingham. Niall (17) is about to do his A-levels, and hopes to move up to Nottingham to train full-time as well. He has been selected to go to the Junior Worlds in Poland.
“It’s strange that they’ve gotten so obsessed with it. They’ve all done every other sport you could think of - they’ve all played football, Niall even played Gaelic football, but they’ve all stuck with the skating.”
Farrell is competing in Pyeongchang on Saturday, February 10, and Tuesday, February 13.