Death Notice: Willie Neenan

Willie Neenan leading the field at a cross country event at Burnfort, Mallow, promoted by Abbey Striders AC in the mid 90s. photo by Steven Murphy of Vale Star publications

The death has occurred unexpectedly on Thursday February 9th 2012 of Willie Neenan of Ballydaly. Reposing at his residence tomorrow, Sunday, from 2pm to 8pm. Reception of remains at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballydaly, on Monday, before 12 noon Requiem Mass. Burial afterwards in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Millstreet.


In the papers:

Willie Neenan – the death of a Legend – For more than 60 years, Willie engaged in competitive athletics, his power packed and consistent efforts impeccably displayed and distinct trails of a man known far and wide. Willie became the first winner in an Irish singlet of the over 65 British and Irish International Cross Country Championship and some weeks earlier he broke the Irish record over the 800m middle distance in the European Championships in Cesnatinico, Italy … (the Corkman 2012-02-16)


The momorial plaque to Willie Neenan by the reservoir at Mount Leader where he passed away doing the thing he loved - running
The memorial plaque to Willie Neenan by the reservoir at Mount Leader where he passed away doing the thing he loved – running  (added 2015-03-25)

At the Sliabh Luachra 10k in 1987


The 1960 Munster 1 mile Championship in Macroom led by Michael O’Sullivan Tournafulla from Fintan Walsh Waterford, Dick Henchion UCC and Willie Neenan Millstreet. Henchion went on to win narrowly from Walsh with Noble Johnson St Finbarr’s third
Photo Irish Examiner 20/6/1960 [f]

11 thoughts on “Death Notice: Willie Neenan”

  1. Willie was a man who gave more of his time to the youth of Millstreet and surrounding areas than he needed to.He did it because he loved running and being fit and felt that everyone should at least try it.As someone who ran with him over 30 years ago,he was then and remained an inspiration.Some people live their lives and leave a legacy.RIP

  2. rip willie u were great runner i remember in 80s when i was young coming to park in millstreet to go training with u in running there would be over 12 of us there at 5 oclock

  3. willie was great, he used to arrive on our farm twice a day for a couple of months every year from the seventies until three years ago. he always had a smile (sometimes a grunt 🙂 ), a story or something to make you look on the brighter side of life. of course he had us running around the park when we were young and we loved it, even if he pushed us hard most of the time.

    Willie was second in the World Vets 1500 metres in Puerto Rico in 1983, and ran 2hrs. 38 mins. in the Dublin City Marathon in 1982 age 49. He is also the holder of the following Irish National Masters records:

    Outdoor 800m…M65…Willie Neenan Millstreet 2.32.12 Sep. 1998 Italy
    Outdoor 1500m…M65…Willie Neenan Millstreet 5.08.87 Sep. 1998 Italy
    Indoor 1500m…M60…Willie Neenan Millstreet 4.44.86 17/03/1997 Nenagh

    and this Munster Masters Record:
    3000m Willie Neenan Millstreet 12.56.81 2004

    He will be missed. rest in peace willie.

  4. So sad to see the great man go, what a legend in our sport, got great memories of the many different events and races down through the years.

  5. The fox on the high field was barking in a voice though familiar wild and shrill
    In the cold depths of mid Winter when January was blowing out it’s chill
    The pale moon did offer a faint light in memory time does stand still
    I saw him the great Willie Neenan running on the high road to Bealach Hill

    Alone with his thoughts on the high road the passionate athletic man
    One who took on the best in the World and his legend the decades does span
    On the steep road that leads to Kilmeedy the seeds of his greatness were sown
    The miles he ran in training and racing would at least be a million if known

    On a high road that most only walk on he ran at a good pace in the moonlight
    His dark shadow on the road with him and no other human in sight
    Towards the flatter road in Kilmeedy he did increase speed down the height
    Leaving Bealach alone in it’s loneness the great man he was out of sight

    He ran against the best in the World and by him younger athletes inspired
    To him running it did come natural one who never easily tired
    Again he had conquered old Bealach the one with the untiring feet
    On his way to Millstreet Town to Ballydaly the legendary Millstreet athlete

    A white backed magpie was warbling on a wattle in the grey dawn of a Summer’s day
    As i awoke to realize i was only dreaming of a man from a place far away
    The great person and great athlete Willie Neenan all is quiet where he now does lay
    One who had run many miles in his lifetime how many could anyone say?

    “I Saw Him The Great Willie Neenan” is by Francis Duggan


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