John O’Grady, a champion weight thrower, was born 17 February 1891 (though he was often recorded as born in 1892) in Ballybricken, Co. Limerick. His parents were William and Catherine O’Grady, who were farmers. His mother Catherine died when John was only 6 years old, leaving his father William to raise five young children on his own. The family was on the 1901 census for Ballybricken. John was still living with his father in 1911 and was recorded on the census for that year. His parents and many of his siblings were buried in Kilmurry, Caherconlish.
John stood over 6 feet tall and weighed more than 18 stone, a formidable sight, but all who knew him mentioned his jolly disposition.
He was a world record breaking weight thrower. He represented Ireland in the 1924 Summer Olympics and was the country’s flag bearer. He participated in the shot put, which he threw a distance of 12.75 metres which placed him 17th in the Olympics.
In his later years, he was the rates book inspector for the Limerick County Council.
His headstone reads:
John O’Grady’s Sporting Achievements:
Putting 16 lb Shot:
- 1914, Irish Championships, 38 ft. 3 in
- 1916, Irish Championships, 42 ft. 6.5 in.
- 1918, Limerick Co. Board Sports, 40 ft., 7 in.
- 1923, Dublin Metropolitan Police Sports, 44 ft. 11 in.
- 1923, Clonliffe Sports, 45 ft. 5 in.
- 1924, Irish Championships, 43 ft. 2.5 in.
- 1924, Tailteann Games, 44 ft., 6 in.
- 1925, Irish Championships, 45 ft. 6.5 in.
Putting 28 lbs:
- 1913, Irish Championships, 35ft. 1in.
- 1913, Limerick v. Kerry, 35ft. 5in., World Record
- 1913, Kilmallock, 36ft. 2in., World Record
- 1913, Mallow, 36ft. 10.25in., World Record
- 1914, Irish Championships, 35ft. 6in.
- 1915, Irish Championships, 35ft. 10in.
- 1916, Irish Championships, 37ft. 9.5in.
- 1917, Irish Championships, 36ft. 6in.
- 1918, Irish Championships, 37ft. 4in.
- 1918, Limerick Co. Board Sports, 36ft., 3in.
- 1922, Civic Guards Sports, 38ft., 10in., World Record
- 1923, Dublin Metropolitan Police Sports, 38ft. 10in.
- 1924, Tailteann Games, 39ft. 9in., World Record
- 1921, Limerick, 29ft., 10.125in.
- 1922, Civic Guards Sport, 30ft. 4in, Curragh, Irish Record
Pushing 56 lb (or from the Sholder)
- 1914, Kilmallock, 23ft., 11in., World Record
- 1915, Dungarvan, 24ft., 8.875in., World Record
- 1917, Irish Championships, 24ft. 0in.
- 1918, Munster Championship, 24ft., 4.5in.,
- 1920, Cratloe Sports, 25ft., 4in., World Record
- 1922, Civic Guards Sports, World Record
- 1928, Castleiney Sports, 26ft. 7in.
- 1930, Kilmallock Sports, 25ft. 4in.
Slinging 56 lb:
- 1917 Irish Championships, 25ft. 2in.
- 1918, Irish Championships, 24ft. 4.5in.
- 1924, Irish Championships, 25ft. 0in.
- 1928, Galway Sports, 26ft., 9in.
- 1929, Limerick Sports, 26ft. 7in.
Throwing (or Slinging) 56 lbs with follow:
- 1923, Dublin Metropolitan Police Sports, 29ft. 4in
- 1928, Cappamore Sports, 31ft., 3in. (certified)
- 1928, Limerick Sports, 30ft., 6in.
- 1929, Limerick Garda Sports, 29ft., 11in.
56 lbs Over the Bar:
- 1923, Clonliffe Sports, 15ft., 3in.
- 1924, Tailteann Games, 14 ft., 6 in., tied with P. McDonald
- 1928, Tailteann Games, 15 ft., 0 in. (this was returned in error as 14 ft.)
- 1928, Newport Sports, 15 ft. 10 in.
- 1930, Kilmallock Sports, (no score printed)
- 1930, Mallow Sports, 15 ft.
The monument on Mulgrave Street, Ballysimon Road to John O’Grady was filmed in Rediscovering Limerick Episode 6.
News reports about John O’Grady’s Achievements: