Originally started in 1978 the Powley (an area in the hills surrounding Castlecomer) men decided, while playing cards, on St Stephen's day (Boxing day for British readers) to run off the Christmas excess by having a race over a cross country circuit. Not being the type of men that would be caught dead in a pair of Nike's or Addidas runners, let alone actually own a pair, the most obvious foot wear for this type of event was, yes you guessed it, WELLINGTONS.
Now the less said about the amount of alcohol that had been consumed prior to this momentous decision the better but the history books will record that Paddy Phelan became the winner of the first ever Wellington race.
1981 is a year remembered for many events (More about 1981 is available in another part of the site) but without a doubt the most sensational event was the Powley men bringing the Wellington race to 'comer (an affectionate abbreviation for the town of Castlecomer). Following an offer by local publican Jim Bollard to offer a perpetual cup to the winner.
The first Castlecomer Wellington Race took place over the Kiltown circuit on New Year 's Day 1981. The circuit is a demanding 5 km country road with two severe inclines and was an instant hit with the people of Castlecomer.
A number of important rules were decided upon and many of these still serve us today. Standard Wellingtons must be worn (no sawn off jobs)
Runners will be handicapped according to age and sex
All runners must register and have their card marked at the half way point
Walkers cannot win any of the race prizes except the best fancy dress prize.
Sixty-two people ran that year and £1,200 was raised for the "Lourdes Invalid Fund" and the first winner of the new route was David Farrell, the first Lady winner was Caroline Coogan.
From here the event blossomed and the following year 1982 saw the first float parade and the winning float was the "Pope Mobile".
The number of runners had increased to 230 and the amount of money raised was £3000 by its third year the number of runners was almost 400.
The monies raised each year have been donated to a wide range of local, national and international charities, unfortunately exact amounts are not available but estimates of €700,000 over the 35 years would not be too far off the mark.
In the early years a certificate acknowledging participation was given to all participants and the top ten men and women received trophies as well as the top three veteran men and senior ladies.
Then rosettes were given as a memento of the occasion and various county colours were used, a commemorative medal was given to participants in both the float parade and the race for the Millennium event on 1 st January 2000 and the 2016 event will celebrate the 100 anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
The event has spread wings and similar events have been held in New York, Sydney, Toronto, Weston Missouri and for the past number of years our twin town of Penvenan Brittany have held a Wellie Race on St Patricks Day.
CASTLECOMER WELLIE RACE – ROLL OF HONOUR
1981 - Race Winner: David Farrell - Ladies Winner: Caroline Coogan - Personality : Martin Campion .
1982 - Race Winner: Liam Murphy - Ladies Winner: Mary Murphy - Float Winner: The Pope - Personality: Bishop L. Forris tal ( r.ip)
1983 - Race Winner: Ollie O'Neill - Ladies Winner: Kay Doyle - Float Winner: Monks - Personality: Fr. Kearns (r.i.p)
1984 -Race winner: Tom laurence - Ladies Winner: Kay Doy;e -Float winner: Shuttle Personality: christy Heffernan
1985 - Race winner: David Buggy - ladies winner: Ann Bourke - Float winner : powley Dew Personality Joe Lynch (r.i.p)
1986 - Race winner: John Walsh - Ladies Winner: ??? - Float winner: Ballylinnen hedge School. Personality: Kieran Fitzgerald
1987 - Race winner: Marty Connolly- Ladies winner ?? - Float winner ?? Personality: Fr Michael Cleary (r.i.p)
1988 -Race Winner : Martin Boran - ladies winner: Mary o' Shea - Float winner: Skehana coal -Personality: D.o Dualaing
1989 - Race Winner: Tom laurence - ladies winner: Ann walsh -Float winner: Comer auld Times - Personality: Margaret Tynan (r.i.p)
1990 - Race winner: Marty Connolly - ladies Winner: Agnes Brennan -Float Winner: Day at the Races - Personality: Liam Nolan
1991 - Race Winner: Fergus Kealy - ladies Winner: Mary o' Shea - Float Winner: The Batchelors -Personality: Jimmy Magee (r.i.p)
1992 - Race winner: Marty Connolly - Ladies Winner: Mary o' Shea - Float Winner: Firoda China -Personality: Denise Murphy
1993 - Race Winner: Tom laurence - Ladies Winner:Kathleen Boyle -Float Winner: The &th Kilkenny Scouts -Personality: Michael Carruth
1994 - Race Winner: Fergus Kealy - ladies Winner: Caroline Keane -Float Winner: Gullivers Travelles - Personality: M. O Muircheartiagh
1995 - Race Winner: jessie Nolan -ladies Winner: Roseligh Comerfors -Float winner: Road to Peace -Personality: Mick Dowling
1996 - Race Winner: Martin Boran -ladies Winner: Niamh maher - Float Winner: 007 and a Half -Personality: Ronan Collins
1997 - Race Winner: Billy o'Neill -Ladies Winner: Martina Brennan -Float Winner: 1920's America -Personality: Ritchie kavanagh
1998 -Race Winner: Tom Hourigan -ladies Winner: Margaret Dillon - Float Winner:: Powley United Men - Personality: David Mitchell
1999 - Race Winner: Brendan Dukes - Ladies Winner: Kate o'neill -Float winner: Firoda Fashions -Personality: Martina Stanley
2000 -Race Winner: Martin Kelly - Ladies Winner: Lucia Brennan - Float Winner: Sporting Heroes - Jim Bolger
2001 - Race Winner: Jim o'Brien -Ladies Winner: Eilish Hayes -Float Winner: Firoda Book Club - Personality: Andy Comerford
2002 - Race Winner- Billy o'Neill -Ladies Winner: Eilish Hayes - Float Winner: The Hilly Alliance - Personality: Ian Wilson
2003 - Race Winner: Billy o'Neill -Ladies Winner: Eilish Hayes-Float Winner: Treasure Isalnd -Personality: Paul Collins 2FM
2004 - Race Winner: Martin Kelly - Ladies Winner: Eilish Hayes - Float Winner: Powley Radio -Personality: Maclean Burke
2005 - Race Winner: Sean Dowling - Ladies Winner: Laura Brennan - Float Winner: Boys from the lots - Personality: Orla o'Shea
2006 - Race winner: Michael Coyle - Ladies Winner: Catherine McDonald - Float Winner: Firoda Sports Acadamy - Personality: Brian Cody
2007 - Race Winner: Martin Kelly - ladies Winner: Breda Roche - Float Winner: Firoda six one News - Personality: Eileen Dunne
2008 - Race Winner: Michael Coyle - Ladies Winner: Mary Burke - Float Winner: Firoda Greenish Party -Personality: Nicky Brennan
2009 - Race Winner: Michael Coyle - ladies Winner: Mary Burke/Farrell - Float Winner: Powley vale Hard Times - Personality: Pascal Scott
2010 - Race Winner: Michael Coyle - Ladies Winner: Breda Roche - Float Winner: Duffy's Circus - Personality: Derek Lyng.
2011 - Race Winner: Michael Coyle - ladies Winner: Mary Burke - Float Winner: James Bond 007 - Personality: Evanne Ni Chuilinn
2012 - Race Winner: John Feehan - Ladies Winner: Breda Mulcahy - Float Winner: Conahy Vintage Club - Personality: Damien Tiernan
2013 - Race Winner: Philip Fennelly - Ladies Winner: Anne o Connor - Float Winner: Flying Column - Personality: Darragh McCullagh
2014 - Race Winner: John Feehan - Ladies Winner: Teresa Agar - Float Winner: Gaelic 4 Mothers - Personality: Tommy walsh
2015 - Race Winner: Martin McDolnald - ladies Winner: Breda McDonald - Float Winner: Jurassic Park - Personality: Helen Carroll
2016 - Race Winner: Michael Coyle - Ladies Winner: Ciara Purcell - Float Winner: Stone Breakers Yard - Personality: Darren o'Neill
2017 - Race Winner: Calvo - Ladies Winner: Anna Duggan - Float Winner: Jungle Book - Personality: Ann Downey
2018 - Race Winner: Philip Fennelly - ladies Winner: Catriona Fennelly - Float Winner: Conahy Vintage Club -Personality: Michael Doyle
2019 - Race Winner: Tom Walsh - Ladies Winner: Anna Duggan - Float Winner Fittestv Family -Personalit: Michael Lyster
2020 Race Winner: John Feehan - Ladies Winner: Breda Mulcahy- Float Winner: Cricky's boys -Personality: Eddie Brennan