Clonliffe Harriers are saddened to hear the news of the passing today of Clonliffe’s first woman Olympian Claire Walsh, after a long illness. It is particularly poignant that Claire passed away this year as the club celebrates 60 years of women’s athletics in Clonliffe Harriers, Claire was one of those pioneering women back in 1963.
Claire Dowling, as she then was, was one of the original ‘Morton Marvels’, joining the club for its opening women’s race on December 17, 1963 over 600m where Claire led home a field of 32 athletes taking the star prize of a pair of candlesticks! On the 29th of February 1964 Clonliffe held it’s first ever women’s cross country race, it was a 1-mile handicap, again won by Claire.
It was in the shorter distances on the track that Claire was in those early years most prolific winning national titles at 100, 200 and 400 and also in 1970 winning the national heptathlon title. That season she also went across the water to compete in the WAAA championships in the 800 where she finished 2nd setting a new Irish record of 2.04.90. In 1971 she qualified on the Irish team for the European Championships in Helsinki finishing 6th in the final, having in the semifinals lowered the Irish record to 2.03.40.
In 1972 Claire reached the pinnacle representing Ireland in the 800m at the Munich Olympic Games and becoming Clonliffe’s first women’s Olympian. 2 years later she competed for Ireland at a 2nd European Championships, in Rome, in the 400.
All in Clonliffe extend our deepest sympathies to Claire’s family and friends on the passing of this legendary Clonliffe Harrier.