With parkrun Ireland’s tenth anniversary coming this weekend, Michael McMahon, the first event director in the Republic of Ireland, takes a look back on how the first parkrun event started in Ireland.
It’s ten years now since parkrun started in the republic, with Malahide as the first event back in November 2012. I had first heard about parkrun a couple of years earlier from parkrunners who had done one in the UK. I loved the idea of a walk or run held at the same time and in the same place in a nice park every Saturday morning, with the possibility of a coffee and a chat afterwards with the people you would get to know week after week.
It also seemed to be made as easy as possible to organise with the technology like barcodes and scanners that were available. A visit to meet Matt Shields at Waterworks parkrun in Belfast confirmed my expectations, both in terms of the enthusiastic and welcoming community created, and the relatively straight forward job in organising each week.
Between the jigs and the reels, and the fact this was the first event in a new territory meant it took around a year and a half to finally get the go ahead to start in November 2012, with the support of Fingal County Council and parkrun Ireland. The core team initially comprised of myself and Kieran O’Leary, joined soon after by Micheál Regan. We worked well together I think because Kieran had a strong background in community events, and Micheál provided the inspiration for the run reports that isn’t so much about reporting times and finishing places, but finding stories about people and their journey to physical exercise which ended up at Malahide parkrun.
Over the years, we have built up a fantastic team of enthusiastic volunteers. Kieran and Micheál moved on to other parkruns, and new members of the core team came onboard. It’s a testament to parkrun that after ten years, it is still the central part of my Saturday morning, whether in Malahide, running or volunteering, or exploring the many other parkruns around the country.
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