Irish Mountain
Running Association

Help with History of Irish Mountain Running

Ryan WeirNov 16 2021, 6:40pmHello. I'm a podcaster researching the history of mountains in Ireland during 1800-1916. I was wondering if anyone here had any insights or information relating to Charles Barrington, his climb of the Eiger, or his role in the creation of the IMRA. I'd really appreciate any help you can offer. Many thanks, Ryan
Joe LalorNov 16 2021, 8:57pmHi Ryan, IMRA is celebrating its 40th anniversary next weekend. However we do have a slight connection with Charles Barrington. His great great great grand nephew sponsored our Christmas race up the Sugarloaf (near the original family home) for a number of years, starting 27th Dec 2006.
If you go to the events page on our site and click 2006 and scroll down to 27th Dec you will get a newsy report and some photos. Best of luck with your research.
Brian KitsonNov 17 2021, 1:26pmHey Ryan

The Barrington Brothers, and Charles in particular, have a number of remarkable achievements to their name.

I wrote a short report about a lockdown ultra run I devised and ran last year which resulted in me discovering a plaque on a long-forgotten bridge dedicated to Charles' brother, Richard, which reminded me of another plaque I came across years ago at the base of The Eiger mountain dedicated to Charles acknowledging his first ascent of the mountain.

The link to my piece is as follows:

There is also of fantastic account of Charles' epic first ascent of the Eiger in this Irish Times article.

Good luck with the podcast, I'll definitely be listening.

Ryan WeirNov 17 2021, 4:05pmThanks both for your speedy response!

Brian - I'll be checking out your article for sure, and that link to the Irish times is perfect! It sounds like the Barrington family were / are a fantastic group of characters!

Joe - 40 years! How about that! What perfect timing! Are there any specific events planned? I'm going to take a look at the news report and photos now. I'm hoping that I can connect with Ron Barrington so it will be useful background knowledge for any conversation we might have.

Aside from Charles' story, I'm also keen to understand more about the history of mountain climbing in Ireland, and the general attitude towards it. Has it always been popular? Or is it an emerging activity and growing in popularity? From my discussions with friends it was unclear between us if Ireland even HAD any mountains, but I can see that there are many beautiful ones. Do you think that they're just not being promoted very effectively, or is there a sense that they're just not enough of a draw for tourists?

Any thoughts you have, I'd be glad to hear.

Thanks again

Joe LalorNov 17 2021, 5:09pmHi Ryan, re celebration for 40th see Kilmac Running Festival on home page. Two days of race based at Kilmacanoge GAA. Particularly on the Sat.
great scope for meeting veteran IMRA folk with stories to tell
Justin ReaNov 19 2021, 9:15amDuring the period you mention (1800-1916) the pursuit of mountaineering or mountain running was more of an act of derring-do of independantly wealthy gentlemen seeking to outdo each other.

A lot of races in UK and Ireland would have been based around professional prize money, or in the case of Barrington's race up Sugarloaf in 1870 - a gold watch.

IMRA was formed in the 1980s from a group of orienteeers who enjoyed running trails without having to get lost.
Niamh O'BoyleNov 19 2021, 11:26amHi Ryan, there is a chapter in Frank Nugent's book 'In Search of Peaks, Passes and Glaciers' about Charles Barrington, as well as lots of other early mountain pioneers. The mountain run at Sugarloaf that he organised gets a short paragraph too. It could be worth a look for you.