Thank You to Outgoing Chairperson Barry Thornton

Thank You to Outgoing Chairperson Barry Thornton

On behalf of Blackrock A.C. senior and master women’s section, I wish to pass on our very sincere thanks to you for all your trojan work and great leadership qualities which you showed in abundance during your reign as Chairperson of Blackrock Athletic Club (Dublin) for which we are eternally grateful.

Our very best wishes for continued success and enjoyment in athletics for the future.   

Patricia Craddock-Smith – Women’s Section

Barry has been a long standing member of the club and his strong values of collegiality, fun, competition and humility have made him an excellent Chair of the club.

He has steered the club incredibly well with a new strategy setting the club up for future success. He does not look for praise or credit and does a huge amount of work behind the scenes that is never seen.

As the All Blacks say about their jersey – leave the jersey in a better place, and Barry has done this with the club, I look forward to seeing all the future community and competitive success which has been set up so well under Barry’s stewardship.

Peter Cosgrove – Chairperson 2009 – 18

Barry has steered the club through the past few difficult years and brought us out the other side of Covid stronger than ever. He made being chairman of the club look easy and, like everyone who’s been on the committee with him, I was grateful for the phone calls he made or took, for his patience and his ability to smile through almost everything. There were fun times too: the barbeque Barry hosted for the committee in his garden one early summer evening brought everyone together over great food and chat.

And that was only one half of Barry’s role in the club: I can only admire how he continued to clock fantastic marathon times. I don’t know how he managed it all. When I went up to give him a bit of encouragement during the first virtual Dublin marathon, my respect for him went up many more notches as he ran lap after lap after lap of Cabinteely Park to complete the distance.

Now that you’re stepping down as chairman, Barry, I want to wish you many more years of enjoyable running and just to say thanks.

Mary Butler – Women’s Section

Chairman & all-round Clubman Barry Thornton

For me, Barry Thornton is Mr. Blackrock A.C., a Chairman, a Coach, a Mentor and an active Recruiter!

Barry has provided great direction and assistance to coaches with his enthusiasm and support across all age groups clearly visible. His knowledge and awareness of the athletes across all the age groups is as impressive as his work organising the club.

I know from my own son’s experience that the regular acknowledgments and congratulations from Barry makes young athletes feel extra special.

His visibility at the club appears constant, even on non-training days, I’ve often bumped into Barry in Carysfort doing bits. There appears to be no escape from the man!

Away from his obvious Chairman responsibilities I have seen first-hand how supportive Barry is to all athletes regardless of age. For me personally, Barry has been instrumental in getting me back to feeling like a runner again during the past couple of years by inviting me to train with him and the JK Harriers group and through his constant encouragement.

Barry has often been the first person to congratulate me after a good run or likewise the first to check-in and pick me up after the more regular disaster runs or injuries.

Barry’s pride and promotion of Blackrock A.C. is never more apparent than when you see him in recruiter mode always looking to secure new recruits to the cause.  I am sure the club owes a considerable percentage of its membership to Barry’s personal agent work!

Put simply Barry perfectly encapsulates what athletics is about; celebrating and acknowledging everyone’s personal successes and accomplishments whilst making sure that Blackrock AC provides the platform and structure for all athletes to reach their potential.

Paul Hunt – Junior Captain and Active Men’s Section Member

Leading Light

I can’t recall the first time I met Barry but at the 2022 Club AGM, he recalled a time when he met me at the Raheny 5 and he was surprised to see a Blackrock A.C. top.  I am guessing this was around 2014, a time when there were very few men in the club.  On that day, Barry came home in a time of 29.14.  A few men were starting to join the Fit4life group at the time.  At the end of 2021, there were almost 140 Senior and Masters members and many joined the club because of Barry, whether in a coaching capacity, through parkrun or through JK Harriers.  

Since he joined the club at the end 2015, Barry has inspired many at the club with his many amazing times at all distances from 5km up to the marathon. His best time of 17-55 at the Cabinteely parkrun will not be beaten too often by club members in the coming years. The majority of his parkruns took place in Cabinteely with many first-place positions. He even ran a virtual marathon in Cabinteely Park on the parkrun course during the pandemic. He also ran 17.19 at the Westport parkrun in 2017. I look forward to his 100th parkrun soon. Most of us are also in awe of the many sub-3-hour marathons he has run over the years including those at Dublin, London, Seville and Edinburgh.

In recent years he joined the committee. In his role as Chairperson, the club has seen significant growth in membership numbers from 588 at the end of 2019 to over 700 at the start of May 2022. This would not have happened without Barry’s leadership and guidance. He was also instrumental in the development of the club strategic plan, in conjunction with a number of committee members, to provide focus on the future growth of the club. Thanks to Barry for being a leading light in the club.

Gerry Flaherty – Registrar and Fit4Life Leader

Cabinteely Park

Barry and I met four years ago on my first ever parkrun in Cabinteely park. He had just stared his role as a chairman of the Blackrock AC and was already on a hunt for new recruits for the club. I felt it then, but didn’t fully realise how lucky I was to join Blackrock when I just moved to the area and be informally mentored by Barry. Barry quickly introduced a little competition for the quickest parkrun times run by a BAC member. It always encouraged to train better and keep coming back to the parkrun and have strong representation from the club.

Barry introduced me to the great running community of Blackrock and JK Harriers and has always gone the extra mile to make me and every new member feel included and welcome. We’ve run a number of races together including the Dublin marathons of 2018 and 2019 and taking team silver at the 5k championships in Tallaght – those were fun times of great camaraderie, peer support in preparation and celebrations together.

I’ve always felt the unity of the club that Barry has helped foster and most recently I’ve felt it like never before. Barry was one of the first people who phoned me and offered support for Ukraine personally and through the Blackrock AC community. He’s helped me set up the Run For Ukraine fundraiser together with Mark Cafferkey and has been very helpful in our humanitarian collection for Ukraine. Thanks Barry for your great leadership taking Blackrock AC to new heights and the community you’ve helped grow through these years!

Igor Pashchenko – Men’s Section

Igor Pashchenko and Barry Thornton

Getting the Job Done

I have known Barry for a few short years and one of our first encounters happened to be a chance discussion around communications, of all things, one Saturday morning in Cabinteely Park. Shortly after I became part of the Blackrock A.C.committee and have enjoyed working with him ever since.

Barry is many great things and as long as it is for the good of the club has a real knack for getting the job done. He always has a nice word to say even if you felt a race didn’t go so well, which was a superb thing to read following my first ever ‘last place’ at a cross country event a number of years ago!

Above all, Barry is super-inclusive and that, in my opinion, is the number one ingredient for a great club that he has helped grow immensely over the past few years and if I were to guess, will still have some part to play!

James Dowling – Communications and Fit4Life

On my own behalf, I enjoyed working with Barry.  He was an excellent club chairman, full of great ideas to progress the club onwards and upwards and very inclusive of others.  He was an excellent leader and I enjoyed working with him in the last year.  Sinéad Howard – Women’s Captain

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Barry for his work in the club to date.  I’ve known Barry for about 15 years, we met in the stands of Blackrock Rugby Club when we were introducing our kids to the game and we’ve been friends since with sport being central to our interests throughout.  When I first met Barry he was moving from triathlons to running and was due to run his first marathon which he completed in circa 3 hours – an inspirational first-time run that he continued to build upon throughout the years and in turn inspired the kids during his coaching tenure.

Barry took on the role of Chairman 4 years ago and applied his leadership and business skills with great effect, re-structuring the committee into what has become a great team with clarity and purpose.  He also conducted a strategic review of the club and supporting functions which has enabled the club to expand and grow to what it is today.


In the last couple of years, Barry has been working on securing additional facilities needed to support the growing needs of BAC making sure all efforts to ensure our athletes’ success and goals could be achieved.  Barry has put us in the best position possible to secure track time when UCD’s facilities become available and has continued working on contingent plans should the club need additional facilities.  Thanks to Ray and Ruth for supporting the drive behind this effort also.

As Chairperson, there are a lot of difficult decisions to be made to ensure the club runs smoothly and Barry has guided us very well during his tenure including seeing us through the unchartered years of Covid 19 and ensuring the club remained compliant with all the guidelines as we trained and exercised when possible.

Thanks for everything Barry, and thank you for your support in enabling the recent success across all the sections of the club.  I’m delighted you are staying involved going forward.

Mark Cafferkey – Chairperson


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