"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
A post at the Wild Geese Forum recalls athletes of the Irish Diaspora who won Olympic medals under the flags of other lands.
Here's the entry on James Connolly, of South Boston, first medalist at the 1896 Athens Games:
Although born in Boston JAMES BRENDAN BENNET CONNOLLY was the son of Irish immigrants and was proud of his Irish heritage. In the Triple Jump competition (or the Hop, Skip and Jump as it was then called) Connolly displayed supreme theatrical bravado by marching up to the sand pit, where Prince George of England and Prince George of Greece were acting as judges, and tossed his cap into the sand a yard beyond the marker of the previous best jump. Then with a cry of, “Here’s one for the honour of County Galway” he proceeded to leap beyond his cap to a distance of 44ft 11¾ in and thus become the first Olympic Champion for 1527 years.
The photo above shows him more than a half-century later, at 80, accepting a varsity letter from Harvard.
One of nine sons of a South Boston immigrant family, Connolly had worked his way into Harvard, but when the college wouldn't give him leave to compete in the Games, he dropped out to go to Athens and become the first Olympic medalist of the modern era.
There was a parade back in Boston for the city's returning Olympic champions, but Connolly wasn't there. Instead, he went to Paris after Athens, spending what was left of the money he had saved to go to Harvard. It was May by the time Connolly returned, alone and unnoticed, taking the trolley to his home in South Boston, weighted down with suitcases and souvenirs. The silver medal, the first Olympic medal awarded in 15 centuries, was tucked away in a pocket of his pants.
His mother made him a cup of tea and brought out an apple pie.
"Cheered and refreshed," he wrote some years later, "I delivered a two hours' travelogue on the glories of Greece, the perils of 12,000 miles of land and water going, the ways and customs of five nations I had met with en-route. For myself, my college savings went by the boards. I did not regret it then; I do not regret it now. For a few minutes after I saw that flag go aloft in the Stadium, I felt that my spirit was having play, and that is life -- to give the spirit play."