Over 50 years enjoying Irish greyhound fraternity with family and friends George Letham has happily been making his way to Ireland by car, ferry and plane.
Having celebrated his 90th birthday recently he enjoyed another Irish derby at Shelbourne Park with’ Born Warrior ‘the big winner on the night.
George Letham who lives in Cupar on the east coast of Scotland along wife Mary and good friends Graham and Beverly Steedman are avid followers of greyhound racing.
They have been making the annual trip over to Shelbourne Park to enjoy the Irish Greyhound Derby and also to the Champions Night over the years. They have also been coming to Navan for many years establishing lifelong relationships in the locality.
Initially with Jack Murphy and then Chandre Monerawela both very much involved
He first came to Ireland when introduced by a good friend of his Willie Lloyd and Neil Campbell. These gentlemen too were also great followers of the greyhound game both in Ireland and the UK.
They introduced George to a well-known and successful greyhound trainer Jack Murphy. Originally from just outside Kanturk, County Cork.
He had built up a successful business and held a trainer’s licence with kennels at Ennistown, Kilmessan, County Meath.
Jack had come to the area to work with his father a well-respected horseman in his field at Ennistown Stud. The Murphy family settled well into the locality and remained for the rest of their days
After finishing his national school his love for horses sent him in one direction.
In his earlier years hoping to become a national hunt jockey but his natural build and weight were not in his favour.
He also had the privilege to have worked with the great trainers of his time, Vincent O’Brien, Tom and Dick Dreaper. No doubt he learnt a lot from these men in his days.
In the early 70’s Jack Murphy had won the ultimate blue riband event when winning the Greyhound Derby with a greyhound called Lively Band (1974). He won many other prestigious competitions as a trainer all over Ireland.
In those days it was very important for Irish horse trainers and greyhound trainers to have good connections into the UK market which was a much more lucrative sales market for potential buyers.
George continued to travel over and maintained a very successful friendship and business association with the late Jack Murphy.
Unfortunately, Jack Murphy was to succumb to Motor Neuron Disease in the late 80s. Many of his friends at the time came together and run a very successful fundraising evening at the Boyne Valley Greyhound Racing Track in Navan based on the Trim Road.
Today a bygone memory, with Lidl and housing developments on those lands.
In its heyday many people travelled to the track at Navan and enjoyed an evening out before heading to the various hostelries to celebrate or drown their sorrows! Whatever the case may .have been.
Unfortunately, the track is no longer and the nearest tracks are Mullingar, Dundalk and Shelbourne Park. Some regret its loss to the town but that was the decision of the directors at the time as major investment was needed to update facilities to the modern standards of the day. At the time they got an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Jack introduced George and Mary to Chandre and Geraldine Monerawela. They too would continue a lifelong relationship for many years enjoying their common interest in greyhounds and true friendship.
L-R George Letham,TBA, Jack Murphy,and Terry Ryan at a
presentation at Navan Track .
Unfortunately, Geraldine passed away in early 2017 and as George says ‘’I miss that lovely smile of Geraldine a wonderful woman she was’’ and as he says it with emotion in his voice.
George is very well versed in his Scottish literature being ardent follower of his fellow countryman the poet Robbie Burns. He can quote many a poem with passion and pride.
There’s a Burns poem for every occasion and emotion which George can quote them with complete recall and clarity in his 90th year.
He continues to enjoy his travels over to Navan and his passion for the greyhounds is as strong as ever. Long may they continue.