Friday, April 04, 2008

Grand National 50th Anniversary - Mr What 1958 Race Video

The famous Grand National horserace is being run at Aintree this weekend and it's 50 years exactly since the great Mr What won, and I have a particular reason for celebrating the anniversary of his win.

My Great Uncle DAVID 'TONE' JOSEPH COUGHLAN (1898 - 1962) owned the racehorse MR WHAT when it won the Grand National in 1958 and came 3rd in 1959 & 1962, as well as another horse Careys Cottage which came 3rd in 1955. (He had gone to America in 1916 but returned to Ireland in 1938.) Mrs Barbara O’Neill of Rathganny, West Meath bred Mr What and strangely the next Irish winner was L’Escargot in 1975 also bred by Mrs O’Neill. What A Daisy dam of L’Escargot was a 3 parts sister to Mr What. In 1958 he was ridden by Arthur Freeman, the Queen Mothers jockey and won 'at ease' winning by thirty lengths, a record for the National and at odds of 18-1. Another record was the winnings, which amounted to £13,744, the largest prize distributed so far as a first prize.

Mr What was trained by Mr Tom Taaffe in Rathcoole, the grandfather of the present Tom Taaffe, the trainer of 3 horses running in this years National. As a report in the local paper of the time described it 'In Skibbereen town the bookies were disgorging for nearly a fortnight and bookies across Ireland that never in the history of their 'profession' did its members receive such a keelhauling. 'Tone' was the recipient of a gay reception in Skibbereen. A band met his family party at the outskirts of the town and there was a reception held at the West Cork Hotel.'

Mum and Dad sadly hadn't put a bet on, and nor had my great uncle! so they were mightily chagrined when the horse actually won and at such great odds. They had however, told the local milkman who did, and who was cock a hoop at his win. I don't think they ever really got over it :-) Ive found an old newsreel of the race which you can watch below, and very exciting it is too :-)

Since I started studying my family history and genealogy in general I have been trawling the internet for references to this little bit of history and have tracked down a Jacobs biscuit tin and a shot glass on eBay, and photos of my Great Uncles triumphant return to Skibbereen which was printed in the local paper at the time and Mr Whats return to his stables in Rathcoole, it's amazing what one can find with a bit of diligance!


Are you a Coghlan/Coughlan with roots in Skibbereen, Co.Cork? Then visit my family history WEBSITE and get in touch.

If video link broken watch it on YouTube HERE

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fools Day

Well, Easter has been and gone. We had the Boy Wonder to stay, and true to form he spent the entire time with his head buried in his laptop playing Warhammer! I do worry about that boy, but it would appear he is typical of boys his age (15) so I suppose I shouldn't really. We had the usual surfeit of Easter Eggs (I think I had 3 altogether!)and Caiti came with her partner for lunch.

We had roast chicken, roast vegetables, stuffing and yorkshire pudding. At this point I should tell you I didn't cook it, as Hubby does all the cooking in our house as he's such a great cook. The day he moved in I handed the kitchen over to him and have never looked back since :-) Anyway we enjoyed our lunch and then sat in the lounge chatting about the forthcoming arrival (Jonah is due on the 4th April so anyday now!. I had been hoping he would put in an appearance either yesterday (my birthday)or today (April Fools Day!)but so far no sign.

Talking of April Fools Day, I saw the BBC's spoof this morning. Apparently a colony of flying penguins have been found in Antarctica! It was very well done, the film clips showing all these penguins flying was brilliantly done. I can't help wondering how many people it fooled. I always remember the famous Swiss Spaghetti Tree Harvest they did a number of years ago and how many people thought that was for real. There was another one in our local Metro newspaper, this was about a new BMW car that had electric shock technology installed that gave any dog that cocked its leg against the wheels a 200 volt shock! (I don't think so!)There was even a diagram purporting to show how the system works with a detailed technical description. Someone had obviously spent quite some time coming up with this (I cant help wondering if they had a personal reason for this particular choice of subject :-).