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Competitor Profile: Fred O'Callaghan

MGP Career Summary

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Frederick Cornelius Westrop O’Callaghan (Fred) was born in Derry, where his father managed a brewery, but was reared in Cork in the Republic of Ireland. Whilst at university (Trinity College, Dublin) to read Geology, he joined the DUMC&LCC (Dublin University Motor Cycle and Light Car Club) and started competing on his home-tuned 500cc Triumph.

His first event was the club hill climb at Cruagh (the Gaelic word for “hard”!) in the Dublin Mountains in 1964. This was an event not to be missed in following years, and he invariably took the award for fastest club member, and frequently put up fastest time of the day. During one of the early events, Fred crashed into a gateway and from that year onwards the gate was left open in case a further attempt was made! From this and other “exploits” he earned the title “Fearless Fred”!!!

Every spare penny from his employment in Guinness’s brewery was spent making his home-tuned machinery, mostly big Triumph and Norton based twins, go faster. The number of events he attended rapidly expanded and soon he was travelling to most of the main Irish national road races both north and south of the border. He also entered hill-climbs and sprints whenever possible, and even a few trials in the winter months. When sprint racing became popular, he also built a “kneeler” on a Triumph frame, though he lacked the resources to take this to the ultimate in performance. He was renowned for his dedication and enthusiasm, and was rewarded with many fine performances on the road.

In 1979, his competition career entered a new phase when he attempted the Manx Grand Prix for the first time. He was “over the moon” (in his own words!) when he managed to lap at over 91 mph on a 500cc Norton twin in practice. He finished the race at an average speed of over 76 mph, despite the poor conditions.

He returned to the Island in 1981 on the Triumph (DNF), and in 1983 and 1984, entered the Classic Junior race on a 350ccAermacchi. In his final appearance, he finished a very creditable 5th at an average speed of over 88 mph.

In the same years, he was one of the moving spirits in the foundation of the Irish Classic Racing Association, and in 1987 became the Irish Classic Champion in the unlimited class.

Sadly, Fred died in August 1988 whilst on holiday in Co. Donegal – ironically, he suffered a heart attack whilst sailing a Laser dingy, and drowned before help could reach him. Dozens of his comrades in motorcycling travelled to attend his funeral in Co. Dublin, a fitting testament to the high regard in which he was held.

To those who had the privilege to know him, he will always be remembered as a true enthusiast and a worthy member of the sport, which he loved so much. Who knows what he could have achieved if he had not been taken so early …

This simple biography is dedicated to his memory.


October 2005

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