McArthur’s Return!

BBC correspondent, Jim Neilly pictured in Dervock in 1984 when he filmed an article on McArthur.
BBC correspondent, Jim Neilly pictured in Dervock in 1984 when he filmed an article on McArthur.

On Tuesday 10 July at 8pm, the people of Ballymoney are invited onto the streets to take part in a colourful and exciting re-enactment of the homecoming of Kennedy Kane McArthur!

A century ago, Kennedy McArthur (1881-1960) arrived home at Ballymoney railway station a fortnight after he had won the Olympic gold medal at the 1912 Stockholm Games.  As he stepped off the train he was welcomed by thousands of cheering well-wishers and greeted by a Guard of Honour from the Boys Brigade.  He was then brought through the town on a carriage pulled by the townspeople.  At the head of the procession was a brass band playing “See, the conquering hero comes”.

Just as it happened a century ago, it is planned to re-create McArthur’s homecoming parade through the town.  As before, ‘McArthur’ will be met in Seymour Street by a Guard of Honour from the Route Battalion of the Boys Brigade.  He will then be invited to board a carriage which will be pulled through the town by members of the Springwell Running Club who have been actively involved in organizing the Dervock marathon on 21 July.  The procession will be led by the Ballyduff silver band and will pass up Main Street and High Street and finish at the Town Hall.  ‘McArthur’ is played by Patrick Buchannan, the actor who will be filling the same role in the forthcoming drama “The Golden Point and Afterwards”. It will be performed in Ballymoney (13 & 14 July) and Dervock (19 & 20 July) and tells the story of the life of the Olympic champion.

The re-enactment parade is scheduled to begin at 8pm and last half an hour.  It is part of this year’s McArthur centenary celebrations which have been generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The programme of events has also been awarded an Inspire mark by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

Jim Neilly returns for “McArthur’s Marathon”

Following the parade, at 8.30pm in Ballymoney Town Hall, there will be even more McArthur centenary entertainment with a special showing of the BBC documentary “McArthur’s Marathon”.  The half hour programme was first broadcast on 9 August 1984.  During the making of the programme, the presenter, Jim Neilly, talked to friends and family of McArthur both here and in South Africa. As an exciting addition to the evening, Jim Neilly will be in Ballymoney as a special guest and give a brief talk on his experiences 28 years ago when he recorded the programme.

Admission to “McArthur’s Marathon” is free and no tickets are required. 

For further information on the McArthur centenary celebrations visit www.marathonmac2012.com, or contact Ballymoney Tourist Information Centre, Ballymoney Town Hall, 1 Townhead Street, Tel: 028 2766 0230 or email touristinfo@ballymoney.gov.uk .