He has walked in the footsteps of his legendary great granduncle one of the iconic figures to hold the office of Lord Mayor of Cork — now he’s all set to run through the city.
Boston firefighter Greg MacCurtain, a great grandnephew of Tomás MacCurtain, who was elected Lord Mayor of Cork in January 1920 and assassinated three months later, visited Cork City Hall yesterday where he was accorded a special reception by Lord Mayor Cllr Des Cahill.
Mr MacCurtain, who is visiting Ireland with his wife, Heidi, daughter, Abby, six, and Tomas, who turns five on Saturday, to compete in the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon on Sunday, his first marathon, said it is a very special visit.
“It was very humbling — to know what those guys like Tomás and Terence McSwiney went through. For Tomás to stand up to the British government — it says a lot about his character. He was able to lead men, he was strong willed. He helped make Cork and Ireland what it is today. I am very proud to be a descendent of his.”
On the same day he celebrated his 40th birthday, he viewed the bust of his ancestor outside City Hall, the historic council chamber where MacCurtain chaired council meetings during that troubled period in Irish history, and portraits of MacCurtain which hang in the mayoral chambers.
Mr Cahill, who today wears the historic chain of office worn by MacCurtain, said he was delighted and honoured to host the MacCurtain family: “There isn’t a tour group that comes into City Hall or this mayoral office where Tomás MacCurtain’s name isn’t mentioned. He is an iconic figure in the history of this office, this city, and this country. And I believe that it is because of men like Tomás MacCurtain, that the people of Cork have such affection and respect for the office of Lord Mayor.”
Greg MacCurtain said he is deeply proud of that legacy and is looking forward to attending a dinner with relatives on Monday in Ballyknockane, Tomás MacCurtain’s birthplace, in a house which has been in the family for some two centuries.
However, he said his focus for the next day or so is on finishing on Sunday what will be his first marathon — while pushing Abby in a specially-adapted Team Hoyt wheelchair provided by Clonakilty running club.
Abby, six, has Leigh’s disease, a rare, life-limiting, neuro-metabolic disorder that affects the central nervous system, leaving her unable to walk, talk, or eat — she must use a feeding tube. Greg said she has recovered well from jet-lag following the flight from the US and is looking forward to the event: “She’s all smiles — she’ll pull me through.”
The Massachusetts Port Authority firefighter, who is based at Boston’s Logan Airport, said because of his family connection, he wanted Cork to be their first marathon. The route will take them past Tomás MacCurtain’s house in Blackpool.
He also praised the hospitality and support he and his family have received since they arrived in Ireland on Tuesday.
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