Lurgan’s second most famous son was in the news on Wednesday night when he guided Celtic to the group stages of the Champions League but it wasn’t Neil Lennon causing ructions in his home town.
He may not have been born in the county Armagh town but he made his home there and the great Master McGrath was the main talking point in Lurgan this week as local historians and politicians squabbled over where his statue would be located. Indeed he was front page news! This story however goes back a few weeks. The local paper reported:
The Master McGrath statue has finally returned to Lurgan town centre following a six-year campaign. The bronze icon has spent its first weekend in Lurgan, having been moved on Friday to High Street. Craigavon councillors backed the move for his return following a campaign spearheaded by Dermot McCabe and Charlie Gardiner. The statue had been gifted to Craigavon Borough Council by the Brownlow family in 1993 on the condition it was kept in a secure location.
A council spokesperson said: “It was decided to locate it at the Civic Centre due to its secure location and high footfall, so all members of the public could view and enjoy it. In February 2013, permission was sought from the Brownlow family to relocate the Master McGrath sculpture from the Civic Centre to Lurgan town centre. There was an opportunity to carry out this work through the public realm scheme at no additional cost to council, and a planning application was submitted seeking approval to site the Master McGrath sculpture within the scheme.”
It would now appear a row has broken out between campaigners and local councillors. Still it’s nice to see he hasn’t been forgotten! Bred in Waterford and owned by Lord Lurgan, the 53lb dog made history becoming the first greyhound to win the Waterloo Cup three times, winning the prestigious title in 1868, 1869 and 1871.
In his day he was so well known that Queen Victoria herself requested an audience with the great man. He has been immortalised since in poem and in song and remains perhaps the best known greyhound ever to grace the plains at Altcar. Given that he caused quite a stir in his day it is no surprise that the famous hound is still being talked about.
I’ve known many greyhounds that filled me with pride,
In the days that are gone, but it can’t be denied,
That the greatest and the bravest that the world ever saw,
Was our champion of champions, great Master McGrath