Loughrea Athletic Club, located 20 miles from Galway city, was founded in 1968. The inaugural meeting to form the club was held in Sergeant Ryle's house in the town's Bride Street.
In 1985 the club purchased 27 acres in Bushfield – an area just outside the town. This facility is now used for training by the club's junior and senior members on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and and also for cross-country competitions. Last year the club fundraised for a new clubhouse in Bushfield and the building will be officially opened later this year. One of the main events of the fundraiser was a climb up Croagh Patrick in Mayo.
Loughrea AC has over 100 juveniles and 150 senior members. The juvenile section caters for athletes over seven years of age. Most club athletes compete at county, provincial and national level – indoor and outdoor track and field and cross-country. The juvenile club was set up in 2010 and soon expanded from just two members to the present roll of over 100. In the County Galway Indoor Track & Field Championships in 2011, only three club members took part in the event. However, this year in Athlone over 60 Loughrea AC juveniles competed.
Special Achievement Awards are presented annually at the club and a perpetual cup is presented to the Athlete of the Year, along with other awards in the different age groups.
There is a plentiful supply of qualified coaches in the club with Mary Barrett, Mick Casey and Barry Beirne heading up the training for juveniles.
Many of the club's coaches have completed the Athletics Ireland coaching courses, and Padraig Wade is one of the youngest coaches registered with Athletics Ireland for Level 1. This year, the club elected its first junior chairman, Stephen Hanrahan, to lead the way forward for the up-and-coming young athletes that includes junior international Laura Shaughnessy.
Loughrea athlete and Olympian Olive Loughnane represented Ireland on the international stage for over 12 years in race walking and won a silver medal in the 20k event at the 2009 World Track & Field Championships in Berlin. Olive continues to be a loyal member of the club and in 2010 she was honoured with Honorary Life Membership of Loughrea AC. Club coach Mary Barrett represented Ireland at the World Masters Track & Field Championships in the pentathlon, where she won silver and bronze medals.
Long-serving club stalwarts include Colm Moorehead, Martin Smyth and TJ Beatty – affectionately known as 'The Three Wise Men'. TJ is still active on the road racing scene and the club hosts its own annual road race, the Grey Lake 10k in September. The club has a great tradition in road race organisation and back in the 1970s, the then International Road Race attracted athletes of the calibre of Sebastian Coe and Eamonn Coghlan.
Loughrea AC is today an all- embracing club that caters for everyone – juveniles, juniors, seniors and masters – as well as Fit4Life recreational runners led by Siobhan Glynn and Marie Reilly. Martin Smyth was the club's first chairman and he still serves the club as treasurer.
This is a thriving west of Ireland athletic club – a club with a very bright future.
President: Colm Moorehead
Senior chairman: David Quinn
Senior secretary: Marie Reilly
Senior PRO: Andrea Sellars
Junior chairman: Stephen Hanrahan
PRO: Brenda Reynolds
Treasurer: Martin Smyth
Website co-ordinator: Keith Shaughnessy
Fit4Life co-ordinator: Joanne Murray