Athletics in Drogheda 1861-2001 tells the story of how the modern sports of track & field, cross country and road racing made their seperate ways to the Boyneside town of Drogheda in Co. Louth. It chronicles the social conditions that initially confined such activities to a small section fo the community. Generally, the population outside of the upper classes could spectate, but they were frozen out of participation. The book explains why.
Gradually, with changes in society and the development of organisations like the Gaelic Athletic Association, GAA, the sport was embraced by the masses in a plethora of urban and rural clubs. In Drogheda the sport was a major crowd pulling activity until the 1960s ushered in a fundamental change int he Western World's lifestyle. The story of how Drogheda men and women became county, national and international athletic stars is relayed through a combination of events, social comment and individual profiles of the more prominent characters. The narrative encompasses the start of the twenty-first century.
Joe Coyle was born the eldest of six children in 1940. The family lived in Drybridge, on the west side of Drogheda.
Always involved in sport, he played many games, including all codes of football, winning a Leinster Colleges medal with Drogheda CBS in 1957. He played on various underage teams with Lourdes Rangers and Glen Emmets in the Louth Minor leagues, gaining representative honours.
He finished second in the Louth Novice Mile on the opening day of Lourdes Stadium in 1961 and the followinf November won the country Novice cross-country championship. In March 1962, he was a scoring member of the Lourdes A.C. team that brought the first ever Senior cross-country championship to Drogheda.
Following a lengthy absence from athletics, he returned in 1984 to compete as a vet with Lurdes. Seven weeks after having a heart pacemaker implanted in 1995, he recorded 97 minutes for the Guinness half marathon at the Phoenix Park. He is a founding member of Drogheda & District A.C. He still runs.
In 1965 he married Sheil McCullough, Dyer Street, in the centre of town. Now retired, they both continue to share a keen interest in athletics.