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Neil Cusack Celebrates 50th Anniversary in Boston

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It will be 50 years on Monday, April 15th since Limerick native Neil Cusack became the only Irish runner to win the famed Boston Marathon – posting a winning time of 2:13:39.

Neil and his wife Imelda have been invited back to Boston for this year’s race and he has been given the special honour of Official Race Starter for this year’s event, which has an entry of 45,000.

David O’Dwyer has written a Special Feature on Neil in the latest issue of Irish Runner magazine, titled When Shamrock Bloomed In Boston

Frank Greally, founder of Irish Runner and now Consultant Editor, ran with Neil Cusack and the Irish Brigade Cross-Country Team at East Tennessee State University during the mid 1970s. Frank has composed this ballad as a tribute to Neil’s famous victory in Boston in 1974.

When Shamrock Bloomed In Boston

The Neil Cusack Ballad

By Frank Greally

In a hotel room in Boston
While seated on his bed
Neil Cusack stitched a shamrock
To his singlet with green thread
The emblem of his country
He’d sport for this great test
From Hopkinton to Copley Square
A race against the best
He thought of all the miles he’d logged
Round Cratloe Woods of Clare
And hills and trails of East Tennessee
With Irish comrades there
He sensed it was his destiny
To win this Boston prize
He thought of family way back home
And how it might surprise
Just before the starting gun

A friend said -say that once again

How you think you’ll run today

Said Neil – I’m going to win
He felt it was his destiny
To win this Boston prize
And thought about the folks back home
And how it might surprise
An Irishman had never won
The mythic Boston crown
’Twas time to make some history
Of marathon renown
His plan worked to perfection
As he shunned the early pace
But soon the six-mile marker loomed
’Twas time to really race
He surged from out the leading pack
And soon was on his own
He thought again of Cratloe Hills
And all the folks back home
By fabled Wellesley College
The girls came out to cheer
The dashing dark-haired Irishman
Now coasting free and clear

He strode toward dreaded Heartbreak Hill
The ruin of countless dreams
The cruel few miles where lay in shreds
So many hopes and schemes

With Heartbreak Hill now conquered
And the rest of Newton’s heights
He ran down the final stretch
With mounted cops and flashing lights
The last mile was the sweetest
He knew he’d won the race
He strode to far-famed Copley Square
Ne’er slackening his pace
With Shamrock crest sewed on his vest
’Twas plain for all to see
Neil Cusack came from, Ireland
To fulfil his destiny

He’d sensed it was his destiny
To win this Boston prize
And give the folks back Limerick way
Real pride and great surprise
To give his family way back home
True pride and rich surprise.

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