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Face to Face with John Colton. According to John Colton, cycling is the healthiest sport in the world but also one of the toughest and he is living proof of this. He has been cycling for over forty years and has never been sick. “Go out for a fifty mile spin on the bike and it gives one a great appetite - you could eat table and all”. Go to bed and you go out like a light and awake next morning as fresh as a daisy. It can also do a marriage good – “if a row starts – hop on the bike – do fifty miles, and by the time you get back tempers have simmered down” Family John’s father was Willie Colton from Ardnasalem and his mother was Annie McKeown from Scotland, who was living in Mullaghloughan, Glaslough. When they got married they lived at Hillhall, where John was born, but then moved to Emyvale and from there to Lenagh, where John now lives. He has one brother, Liam, living in Lakeview, Emyvale, and a sister, Bridget, in England. He attended knockconan N.S. under Miss Flood and the Master was Master Smith, who lived in Fortsingleton House. His main memory of his school days is going to school barefoot and suffering ‘crigged toes’. Work Like so many others, as soon as he was able, he got a job in Mullan Mills in 1950 and worked there for 42 years, until 1992. He has seen many changes in the factory over the years. In 1950 there were about 120 on the workforce but in 1992 that was down to 30. There were many advances in technology and methods – some good and some not so good. Mass production was necessary and business had to keep up with progress and Mullan Mills was a leader in the field, always maintaining a high quality product. Sport Lunch times at Mullan were great. Every day there were Handball competitions with the final on Friday. These finals were like All- Irelands. There was a great interest taken in the games and fierce competition. Some of the big names at the handball were: Bennie Connolly R.I.P.; Peter McMeel; Kevin Majnone. From what I hear, John himself was very hard to beat. Basketball was another favourite game at the time. Many of the young men were in the FCA and Packie McKenna R.I.P. decided to start a basketball team to take part in army competitions. Some of the players with John were – Peadar McGeough; the two Paddy Murphys; Peter McMeel; Tony Majnone and Packie Hughes. As well as army leagues, they played in tournaments in ‘Blayney, Dungannon, Armagh and other places. It was all very enjoyable. Cycling How did John get started? When he began work in Mullan he walked to and from it every day until Packie Savage sold him a bike ‘for next to nothing’. There were about twenty five fellows on bikes and very soon there were races every evening from the factory to the top of the ‘Cassey’. John’s bike was a sturdy heavy bike and he was finding it hard to push, so Sean McEntree R.I.P. helped him buy a new one from McKenna and Deerys in Monaghan. With it he began to leave everyone behind and saw that he could do well at this sport and so started to enter Cycle Races at Sports. Tommy Rodgers of Cookstown, himself from a great cycling family, told John to get a proper racer and sold him a new one for €32, which was big money. John went to Cookstown to collect the bike on good Friday 1952 and cycled home. He was so ‘new fangled’ with his purchase that he went on to Blayney and back the same day and so began his love, his interest and involvement in the bicycle. Soon others, who were cycling, all joined together. Boys like John Joe Gorman, Paddy Lavery, Jimmy Skinnader, Kevin McKenna, Tony Majnone, Victor Fields. They formed themselves into the Emyvale Cycling Club and Seamus Cadden and Owenie Skinnader and Jack Donaghue were in charge. Within a short space of time the club established a big name for themselves and were winning races all over the top half of Ireland. Jimmy Skinnader was selected to ride in ‘The Rás Tailteann’ and this was a great boost for the club and a target for other riders to aim for. On the morning that Jimmy was heading off to Dublin for the Rás, he broke a gear and John cycled to Cookstown and back to get the spare part in time for Jimmy leaving on the 11am train from Glaslough. More young men took up the sport then – brother Liam, Kevin Majnone, Sean and Patsy Kelly, Mickey McKenna (Mickey’s Mick) and Michael Hackett. They attended sports meetings all over Ulster and always came home laden with trophies. They would cycle to Dundalk, take part in a 50 mile race, and cycle home again – a total of 150 mile. They went to Cavan, Portadown, Newcastle and Dublin – distance was no problem and all expenses were paid for out of their own pockets. The club was famous and its riders brought great credit to the area. The feats of men like Paddy Lavery, John Joe Gorman and John Colton were being talked about everywhere. Tony Murphy was a great ambassador for the club – taking part in ‘The Rás’ and cycling for the Irish team in France. Dessie McKenna, another rider with the club, held the distinction as the youngest rider at 16 years of age to complete ‘The Rás’. Donagh Parochial Sports was a big attraction each year with about 40 riders, from all over, taking part in the grass track events for All-Ireland and Ulster titles. So big was the number of entrants in these events that crashes were inevitable, which added to the excitement for the spectators. Tree-Speed! One night a group of riders were returning from Dungannon and they had no lights on their bicycles. They knew they had to pass a Police check-point on the Emyvale Road out of Aughnacloy. When they got there the policeman was out on the road to stop them, which they did – all except John Joe. He sped on as fast as he could go. The Policeman told the others to rush after him – he was trying to warn them that there was a big tree across the road at Gibsons Corner. The others raced on to stop J.J., but, alas, too late. When they got to the tree there was the bike entangled in the branches and then a voice from the middle of the tree – “I’m killed, I’m killed”. John answered - when you can roar like that you’re alright’ and so he was – the bike suffered more than he. Down and Up There were very few new riders joining the club and bit by bit the ‘older’ cyclists dropped out until there was only John left taking part competitively. One night he was telling Mickey McKenna, from Knockakirwan, now living in Emyvale, about the state of the club and he said he would help to build it up again and this he did in a big way. He helped organise the Tramps Ball in Emyvale, which became an annual event and brought in much needed funds to reorganise the club. Son, Adam, and Gerard and Stephen Hughes, Jim and Noel Harvey and others became members and the club was soon on its way back to former glory. Francie McQuaid and Seamus Cadden succeeded in getting the Town of Monaghan to sponsor jerseys and tracksuits. The club now looked professional and grew in confidence. Training programmes were devised and Summer Leagues organised to encourage consistent training. Seamus Cadden donated a beautiful Shield for the Overall winner, which would be presented at the Club’s Annual Dinner each year. The result of all this was that members were now leading contenders for prizes wherever they competed and this in turn encouraged more young lads to take up the sport. John could not find the words necessary to praise Mickey McKenna for his organising ability and the time and work that he has done for cycling. Suffice it to say that the club was asked to run the All Ireland Junior Road Race championships last year, which was a great event. Seamus Mulligan secured sponsorship from John Rice R.I.P.; Ulster Rose, Sinead Murphy was Official Starter and the club supplied marshals for the course. Clubs from all over Ireland were loud in their compliments for the Emyvale Club. This year the club was asked to organise the Stage 3 end in the Tour of Ulster, which was again a great success. Malachy Columb Furniture has been the main sponsor for the club for the past two years and now because of this financial assistance the club has decided to revive ‘The Tour of Monaghan’ on the 24th and 25th of July taking in Monaghan, Ballybay, Carrickmacrosss, Castleblayney, Emyvale and Tydavnet. It will be an All-Ireland event and will involve a massive organisational effort with plenty of help needed. But the club has a great band of willing workers and riders at the moment and are capable of doing a good job. Dessie McKenna (Sr), who is Road Manager, mechanic and driver deserves great praise for his work for all the riders. Humble John In all the time I was talking to John, he was loathe to talk about his own achievements and his contribution to the sport, even though he was All-Ireland Half-Mile Champion and, on the same day in Dunleer, how he won second place in both the 100k and 10,000 Irish Championships, not to mention all his other awards. Nor was there a mention of the encouragement he has been to all those who have represented the club over the years and the esteem with which he is held by all involved in the sport. Throughout his years he had a few very minor accidents until November 28th last, when he was brought off the bike by a dog, which resulted in a broken pelvic bone and other injuries. He spent four weeks in Navan Hospital and is making a very satisfactory recovery. He takes a spin now and again and his love of the sport has in no way diminished. Marriage He married his next door neighbour, Molly Gorman, in 1961. They have five children – Noel (Emyvale), Pauline (Home), Sean (Monaghan), Claire (Home) and Ann (Home). John says a cyclist needs a very understanding wife. Social life can be at a minimum because of training and meal times can be very irregular, dinner at 9.00pm for example, when the training is over. Sean represented Monaghan at the All-Ireland finals in the Community Games, Pauline took part in Ladies Races and won the Fintona Shield three years in a row and Molly was very successful at grass track racing and has the trophies to prove it. Racing Today Bikes today can range from £200 to £5,000 with all sorts of new technology – disc wheels, tripods, low profile frames and gaudy colours, but, as far as John is concerned, these are all gimmicks, they add glitter to the sport but at the end of the day it is down to the man on the bike. If he is not fit, no gimmick will win a race for him. It takes courage, teamwork and commitment to win races – he has done it and he knows best of all. From all your friends, both in and out of cycling, we wish you many more happy miles in the saddle. This profile was recorded and published in the early 90’s and so many changes have taken place since then as well as the deaths of many mentioned here including John and Molly. May they all rest in peace. Copyright with author
All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Face to Face with John Colton. According to John Colton, cycling is the healthiest sport in the world but also one of the toughest and he is living proof of this. He has been cycling for over forty years and has never been sick. “Go out for a fifty mile spin on the bike and it gives one a great appetite - you could eat table and all”. Go to bed and you go out like a light and awake next morning as fresh as a daisy. It can also do a marriage good – “if a row starts – hop on the bike – do fifty miles, and by the time you get back tempers have simmered down” Family John’s father was Willie Colton from Ardnasalem and his mother was Annie McKeown from Scotland, who was living in Mullaghloughan, Glaslough. When they got married they lived at Hillhall, where John was born, but then moved to Emyvale and from there to Lenagh, where John now lives. He has one brother, Liam, living in Lakeview, Emyvale, and a sister, Bridget, in England. He attended knockconan N.S. under Miss Flood and the Master was Master Smith, who lived in Fortsingleton House. His main memory of his school days is going to school barefoot and suffering ‘crigged toes’. Work Like so many others, as soon as he was able, he got a job in Mullan Mills in 1950 and worked there for 42 years, until 1992. He has seen many changes in the factory over the years. In 1950 there were about 120 on the workforce but in 1992 that was down to 30. There were many advances in technology and methods – some good and some not so good. Mass production was necessary and business had to keep up with progress and Mullan Mills was a leader in the field, always maintaining a high quality product. Sport Lunch times at Mullan were great. Every day there were Handball competitions with the final on Friday. These finals were like All-Irelands. There was a great interest taken in the games and fierce competition. Some of the big names at the handball were: Bennie Connolly R.I.P.; Peter McMeel; Kevin Majnone. From what I hear, John himself was very hard to beat. Basketball was another favourite game at the time. Many of the young men were in the FCA and Packie McKenna R.I.P. decided to start a basketball team to take part in army competitions. Some of the players with John were – Peadar McGeough; the two Paddy Murphys; Peter McMeel; Tony Majnone and Packie Hughes. As well as army leagues, they played in tournaments in ‘Blayney, Dungannon, Armagh and other places. It was all very enjoyable. Cycling How did John get started? When he began work in Mullan he walked to and from it every day until Packie Savage sold him a bike ‘for next to nothing’. There were about twenty five fellows on bikes and very soon there were races every evening from the factory to the top of the ‘Cassey’. John’s bike was a sturdy heavy bike and he was finding it hard to push, so Sean McEntree R.I.P. helped him buy a new one from McKenna and Deerys in Monaghan. With it he began to leave everyone behind and saw that he could do well at this sport and so started to enter Cycle Races at Sports. Tommy Rodgers of Cookstown, himself from a great cycling family, told John to get a proper racer and sold him a new one for €32, which was big money. John went to Cookstown to collect the bike on good Friday 1952 and cycled home. He was so ‘new fangled’ with his purchase that he went on to Blayney and back the same day and so began his love, his interest and involvement in the bicycle. Soon others, who were cycling, all joined together. Boys like John Joe Gorman, Paddy Lavery, Jimmy Skinnader, Kevin McKenna, Tony Majnone, Victor Fields. They formed themselves into the Emyvale Cycling Club and Seamus Cadden and Owenie Skinnader and Jack Donaghue were in charge. Within a short space of time the club established a big name for themselves and were winning races all over the top half of Ireland. Jimmy Skinnader was selected to ride in ‘The Rás Tailteann’ and this was a great boost for the club and a target for other riders to aim for. On the morning that Jimmy was heading off to Dublin for the Rás, he broke a gear and John cycled to Cookstown and back to get the spare part in time for Jimmy leaving on the 11am train from Glaslough. More young men took up the sport then – brother Liam, Kevin Majnone, Sean and Patsy Kelly, Mickey McKenna (Mickey’s Mick) and Michael Hackett. They attended sports meetings all over Ulster and always came home laden with trophies. They would cycle to Dundalk, take part in a 50 mile race, and cycle home again – a total of 150 mile. They went to Cavan, Portadown, Newcastle and Dublin – distance was no problem and all expenses were paid for out of their own pockets. The club was famous and its riders brought great credit to the area. The feats of men like Paddy Lavery, John Joe Gorman and John Colton were being talked about everywhere. Tony Murphy was a great ambassador for the club – taking part in ‘The Rás’ and cycling for the Irish team in France. Dessie McKenna, another rider with the club, held the distinction as the youngest rider at 16 years of age to complete ‘The Rás’. Donagh Parochial Sports was a big attraction each year with about 40 riders, from all over, taking part in the grass track events for All-Ireland and Ulster titles. So big was the number of entrants in these events that crashes were inevitable, which added to the excitement for the spectators. Tree-Speed! One night a group of riders were returning from Dungannon and they had no lights on their bicycles. They knew they had to pass a Police check-point on the Emyvale Road out of Aughnacloy. When they got there the policeman was out on the road to stop them, which they did – all except John Joe. He sped on as fast as he could go. The Policeman told the others to rush after him – he was trying to warn them that there was a big tree across the road at Gibsons Corner. The others raced on to stop J.J., but, alas, too late. When they got to the tree there was the bike entangled in the branches and then a voice from the middle of the tree – “I’m killed, I’m killed”. John answered - when you can roar like that you’re alright’ and so he was – the bike suffered more than he. Down and Up There were very few new riders joining the club and bit by bit the ‘older’ cyclists dropped out until there was only John left taking part competitively. One night he was telling Mickey McKenna, from Knockakirwan, now living in Emyvale, about the state of the club and he said he would help to build it up again and this he did in a big way. He helped organise the Tramps Ball in Emyvale, which became an annual event and brought in much needed funds to reorganise the club. Son, Adam, and Gerard and Stephen Hughes, Jim and Noel Harvey and others became members and the club was soon on its way back to former glory. Francie McQuaid and Seamus Cadden succeeded in getting the Town of Monaghan to sponsor jerseys and tracksuits. The club now looked professional and grew in confidence. Training programmes were devised and Summer Leagues organised to encourage consistent training. Seamus Cadden donated a beautiful Shield for the Overall winner, which would be presented at the Club’s Annual Dinner each year. The result of all this was that members were now leading contenders for prizes wherever they competed and this in turn encouraged more young lads to take up the sport. John could not find the words necessary to praise Mickey McKenna for his organising ability and the time and work that he has done for cycling. Suffice it to say that the club was asked to run the All Ireland Junior Road Race championships last year, which was a great event. Seamus Mulligan secured sponsorship from John Rice R.I.P.; Ulster Rose, Sinead Murphy was Official Starter and the club supplied marshals for the course. Clubs from all over Ireland were loud in their compliments for the Emyvale Club. This year the club was asked to organise the Stage 3 end in the Tour of Ulster, which was again a great success. Malachy Columb Furniture has been the main sponsor for the club for the past two years and now because of this financial assistance the club has decided to revive ‘The Tour of Monaghan’ on the 24th and 25th of July taking in Monaghan, Ballybay, Carrickmacrosss, Castleblayney, Emyvale and Tydavnet. It will be an All-Ireland event and will involve a massive organisational effort with plenty of help needed. But the club has a great band of willing workers and riders at the moment and are capable of doing a good job. Dessie McKenna (Sr), who is Road Manager, mechanic and driver deserves great praise for his work for all the riders. Humble John In all the time I was talking to John, he was loathe to talk about his own achievements and his contribution to the sport, even though he was All-Ireland Half-Mile Champion and, on the same day in Dunleer, how he won second place in both the 100k and 10,000 Irish Championships, not to mention all his other awards. Nor was there a mention of the encouragement he has been to all those who have represented the club over the years and the esteem with which he is held by all involved in the sport. Throughout his years he had a few very minor accidents until November 28th last, when he was brought off the bike by a dog, which resulted in a broken pelvic bone and other injuries. He spent four weeks in Navan Hospital and is making a very satisfactory recovery. He takes a spin now and again and his love of the sport has in no way diminished. Marriage He married his next door neighbour, Molly Gorman, in 1961. They have five children – Noel (Emyvale), Pauline (Home), Sean (Monaghan), Claire (Home) and Ann (Home). John says a cyclist needs a very understanding wife. Social life can be at a minimum because of training and meal times can be very irregular, dinner at 9.00pm for example, when the training is over. Sean represented Monaghan at the All-Ireland finals in the Community Games, Pauline took part in Ladies Races and won the Fintona Shield three years in a row and Molly was very successful at grass track racing and has the trophies to prove it. Racing Today Bikes today can range from £200 to £5,000 with all sorts of new technology – disc wheels, tripods, low profile frames and gaudy colours, but, as far as John is concerned, these are all gimmicks, they add glitter to the sport but at the end of the day it is down to the man on the bike. If he is not fit, no gimmick will win a race for him. It takes courage, teamwork and commitment to win races – he has done it and he knows best of all. From all your friends, both in and out of cycling, we wish you many more happy miles in the saddle. This profile was recorded and published in the early 90’s and so many changes have taken place since then as well as the deaths of many mentioned here including John and Molly. May they all rest in peace. Copyright with author