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Frank Greally: Running Full Circle A radio documentary for Midwest Radio

Frank Greally: Running Full Circle, a new radio documentary from Little Road Productions

Ltd., will broadcast at 9am on Sunday August 28 th 2022 on Midwest Radio.

At an initial glance Frank Greally is simply inspirational. Now 71 years old, he held the

10,000 metre National Junior Record in Athletics for nearly 52 years, competed

internationally for Ireland, was the founder of the Irish Runner magazine and its editor for

37 years, is the Athletics Ireland Ambassador for The Daily Mile, is the founder of the

Remembrance Run that takes place in Dublin every November, has written two books and is

also a songwriter. However, behind all these accolades is the story of a struggle against

depression and alcoholism and how running and now walking have been his redemption. In

this one-hour radio documentary, we find out more about the man behind these many

achievements and why he feels the need to show his gratitude for a life of more ups than


A Ballyhaunis native who was born prematurely in the Old Coombe Hospital in 1951, Frank

was not expected to survive. His mother had already lost a daughter in a home birth back in

Mayo so she made the lonely decision to travel to Dublin to give birth to Frank and brought

him home to Ballyhaunis a few days later, travelling alone on the train with Frank wrapped

in a blue blanket. Tragedy was to hit the family again as Frank was only six when his baby

brother Gerard was born – sadly, he only survived a few days. Frank now recollects that

Gerard’s death had a profound effect on him for many years and it was only in his later life

that he fully came to terms with his passing. Like many Irish families who suffered a

bereavement of a child at the time, Gerard was seldom spoken about, therefore not

allowing the family the proper chance to grieve.

Early on in his life, Frank realised he had a gift for athletics and emerged as a prodigious

talent in his native Mayo. Not long after, he set his 10,000m National Junior record of

30mins 17secs in Santry on an August evening in 1970. Incredibly, it took nearly 52 years for

this record to be broken, making it the longest held running record in Irish history. Selected

shortly afterwards to run for Ireland at the World Cross-Country Championships in

Cambridge, this led to him winning an athletics scholarship to the USA where he became

one of the 70s Irish brigade distance squad at East Tennessee State where he majored in

English Literature and Journalism. Unfortunately, Frank’s time in the USA was not what it

could have been and he tried to work part-time for his upkeep while logging miles of

training along with class time. Ongoing injuries and the immense pressure placed upon him

as a young athlete miles from home led to the start of his battles with depression and


Desperate to keep up with 1972 Olympians Neil Cusack and Eddie Leddy, Frank soon ran

himself into the ground and his athletics career in the US was cut short due to injury, but

not having the heart to tell his parents, Frank stuck it out in East Tennessee, without the aid

of his beloved running to ease his troubled mind. Returning to Ireland and still battling his

demons, Frank struggled repeatedly but still managed to become an accomplished journalist

and founder of the Irish Runner magazine, which he edited for 37 years.

However, his ongoing hidden struggles with depression and alcoholism came to their peak

when Frank was in his mid-forties and living in isolation in a little rented cottage near

Lacken, in the Wicklow hills, away from his wife and family. That night he believes were it

not for the miraculous intervention of his friend Ray McManus, he might not be with us to

tell his story of redemption. A slow but successful recovery at St Patrick’s followed, along

with a return to his first love – running, no longer with medals and accolades as the

objective, but simply for the sheer joy of it.

Frank is passionate about the importance of exercise and activity as we grow older. In 2012,

he also founded the annual 5k Remembrance Run, an event that takes place in the Phoenix

Park in November to allow people to merge running and a remembrance for those who

have passed away. According to Frank ‘we all have a primal need to be remembered even

in some small way’.

A regular face on the annual Dublin Marathon commentary scene, along with being the

Athletics Ireland Ambassador for The Daily Mile, Frank has no desire to stop working as he

enters his seventies. To Frank now, it is all about giving back. In this one-hour radio

documentary, Frank will inspire others to never give up, to keep going and to find a place for

gratitude, and exercise, in their own lives.

The documentary was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television

Licence Fee.

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