independent

Wednesday 12 December 2018

All the President's Mallow men to be finally honoured

Record-breaking water safety team to get civic reception - five decades after winning national title

The 1968/69 Mallow Presidents Trophy-winning team of(back row) Manus O’Callaghan, Graham Morphy, Rory Barratt, and Jimmy Gyves (with trophy). Also pictured are Ita O’Leary, Mallow Red Cross; and Pat Organ, water safety examiner
The 1968/69 Mallow Presidents Trophy-winning team of(back row) Manus O’Callaghan, Graham Morphy, Rory Barratt, and Jimmy Gyves (with trophy). Also pictured are Ita O’Leary, Mallow Red Cross; and Pat Organ, water safety examiner

Bill Browne

The record-breaking Mallow team that became the first from Cork to win a prestigious national water safety award is set to set to be afforded one of the Rebel County's top accolades.

The Mayor of County Cork Cllr Gerard Patrick Murphy will next Wednesday host a civic reception in County Hall to mark the 50th anniversary of the Mallow Red Cross - representing Cork - winning the President's Trophy. 

To this day, the team - consisting of Jimmy Gyves, Rory Barrett, Manus O'Callaghan and Grahame Morphy - remain the only one representing Cork city and county to have won the coveted trophy. 

The quartet were all members of the Mallow Red Cross water safety section: a river, lake and sea rescue organisation that, in the words of Manus O'Callaghan "pre-dated swimming pools, changing rooms, showers and all such luxuries." 

Back then, the group honed its skills on dry land before putting them to use at the Bulwarks, a well-known spot on the River Blackwater that has been used by generations of local swimmers. 

"The Red Cross 'blood and bandage boys' may have had their attractive uniforms, but we had our togs - and wore them with pride. In fact they inspired many to become instructors, helping to spread the water safety message throughout Ireland," said Manus.

He said that competition played an important role, with the team winning numerous county and regional titles before they felt ready to take on "the big one" - The President's Trophy.

"We were actually surprised that no Mallow team had won it before, given the calibre of people that had been part of the organisation over the years," admitted Manus. 

"Not only did we win the 1968/69 trophy, we also featured on RTÉ Nuacht - even though no-one recognised us as all were on screen was as a series of splashes in a blue swimming pool," he laughed.

Manus also celebrated a prestigious double on that day by winning the best individual in competition award. 

He said that at the time water safety was "about as low profile an activity as you could get", so the team was not expecting any bands to greet them or civic receptions when they arrived back in Mallow.

"And we weren't to be disappointed in that respect," he grinned. 

Tim Sheahan of the Mallow Development Partnership (MDP), said he had written to the county Mayor requesting the team finally be honoured for their win.

"Although it might be five decades overdue, I think a civic reception would be a great way to remember what the team achieved and the fact they still are the only Cork team to have won the trophy," he said.

Corkman

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