World shooting champion Paddy Mulroy turns 80

A world clay pigeon shooting champion celebrated his 80th birthday at his home in

A world clay pigeon shooting champion celebrated his 80th birthday at his home in

Clonmel last month.

Paddy Mulroy won the individual gold medal at the world championships in the SouthKorean capital of Seoul in 1978, when he also captained the Irish team.

At the time of his success he was a garage proprietor in Drumcondra, Dublin and travelled to Seoul at his own expense. His victory qualified him for the Irish panel for the Moscow Olympics but he was precluded from competing because he had competed with the English team in 1979 at an event in South Africa, which at the time was under an apartheid regime and subjected to a variety of international boycotts, including sporting contacts.

It was the only source of regret in a hugely successful career that he never had the opportunity to compete at the Olympics. However he found it difficult to turn down the English invitation for the trip to South Africa because the team, under manager Neville Price Jones (a Welshman who to this day is still a family friend) allowed him to travel with them to other international events to gain international experience at a time when no Irish clay pigeon shooters travelled abroad.

However he savoured numerous other victories to compensate for that one absence from his list of achievements. He won the Gytorp trophy - awarded annually to competitors from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales at an event in Ashbourne in Meath - so many times that he was allowed to keep the cup.

He won the Irish Close championship on several occasions and competed in two world championships and four European championships. His ability in so many disciplines, including Olympic Trench, the qualifying standard for the Olympic Games, set him apart in the sport. In the course of a colourful career he was invited by a son of the Spanish dictator General Franco to shoot pigeons in Madrid.

The family was in the news when Paddy’s competition gun was one of five stolen by armed and masked raiders who burst into his home in St. Ignatius Road in Dublin in the 1970s. Following an appeal the Browning shotgun was later recovered before he competed at an event in Italy and after he won the Irish open single championship with a borrowed gun.

Paddy’s family came from Parnell Street, Clonmel, where they owned a pub on the corner of Anglesea Street that was originally McGrath’s before later becoming The Horseman on a site now occupied by Paddy Power’s. He served his apprenticeship as a mechanic in Jack O’Brien’s garage in Anglesea Street before leaving for Dublin in 1962.

On his retirement in 1998 he moved back to Clonmel where he lives with his wife Maureen, daughter Mary and son Billy at Comeragh Lodge, Scrouthea West, Old Bridge, overlooking the town from the Comeragh foothills.

The couple have another daughter, Shirley (Lanigan) who lives in Kilkenny and a son Gavin who lives in Co. Meath.

Still hale and hearty, Paddy never lost his interest in shooting and occasionally hunts deer.