Donegal sporting icon laid to rest

Cyril O'Boyle brought vigour to the world of athletics locally, nationally and indeed internationally

Ciaran O'Donnell


Ciaran O'Donnell


Donegal sporting icon laid to rest

Cyril O'Boyle accepting his hall of fame award from Brendan O'Donnell from the Donegal Athletics Board

Donegal sporting legend Cyril O'Boyle, from Breenagh, Glenswilly, who inspired generations of runners locally and nationally, was laid to rest this afternoon.

Cyril passed away peacefully at Letterkenny University Hospital on Tuesday night. He was 91.

A hugely popular figure who was the first Donegal man to win the national senior cross country title in 1952 - Gary Murray from Stranorlar being the other - the Kincasslagh native was laid to rest at Killpheak Cemetery.

Addressing mourners at his funeral Mass in St Columba's Church, Glenswilly, Fr Hugh Sweeney said Cyril had added vigour to the world of athletics back in the day.

"Cyril O'Boyle was a man who was blessed with vision, energy, determination and powerful skills," Fr Sweeney said.

"To achieve the success he did, Cyril was a man of self-discipline. He ran among the greatest and the fastest, and he inspired many others. He brought vigour to the world of athletics locally, nationally and indeed internationally," he added.

Describing Cyril’s achievement over many decades as “outstanding”, Fr Sweeney continued: "He was a challenging icon to those he inspired who tried to follow."

"Cyril used the gifts and talents which God had so richly blessed him with to leave a notch in our memories, in our parish and in our country. For what can be achieved and what can be done, Cyril is our icon for that," Fr Sweeney said.

In January 2016, Cyril was the first individual to be inducted into the Donegal Hall of Fame by the Donegal Athletics Board.

Cyril was an exceptionally talented athlete who set the standards in the the middle of the last century.

He won both the national junior and national senior cross country titles in 1951, having won the Ulster junior and senior cross country titles the previous year. He was national 1,500-metre champion in 1952, won the national mile title in 1853 and claimed the national title over the four-mile distance in 1954.

Born in Belcruit, Kincasslagh he spent his formative years in the Rosses and was educated at Belcruit National School. The family moved to live in Glenswilly in 1949 and Strabane was his first athletic club - there was no organised athletics in Donegal at that time.

During his time in Scotland, he ran with Victoria Park AAC and Clydesdale Harriers. He was still competing at the beginning of the New Millennium.

He returned to Ireland with his family in 1969 and set up home in Breenagh, Glenswilly.

In 2001 he competed in the World Masters Championship, and finished just outside the medals in fourth place (over 75 category) in Brisbane, Australia.

He also competed in the World Masters in Gateshead, England in 1999 and Ricconi in Italy.

Predeceased by his daughter, Moira O'Neill, Cyril is survived his his wife, Noreen, daughter Patricia and a wide circle of family and friends.