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A taste of Ulster for World Police & Fire Games

Dame Mary Peters combined her roles as President of the Ulster Sports Museum Association and Patron of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) on the eve of the competition. WPFG president Mike Graham (left) was one of the many visitors who will enjoy Ulster hospitality and learn a little more about our sporting heritage.

Dame Mary and USMA Vice Chairman Nigel Carr presented a selection of boards in the Belfast Hilton reception and mezzanine floor giving a taste of Ulster success in soccer, rugby, cycling and golf – all sports which feature in the games.

The Belfast Hilton, as host hotel, will welcome many international delegations to this, the third largest multi-sport event in the world. Some of the thousands of competitors and spectators visiting the province will hopefully leave with many happy memories of the home of the Giant’s Causeway, the Titanic, the Walled city of Derry and the birthplace of Best, McIlroy, McBride, Irvine and many other sporting greats.


Malcolm Brodie – A Legend

Few have, or will ever, make a greater contribution to the sport they love than Malcolm Brodie.
As TV and radio; printing press and on-line web sites echo tributes to Malcolm’s impact over a lifetime in sport and journalism, his colleagues in the Ulster Sports Museum Association reflect on the personal qualities that made him such wise counsel and good company.
Malcolm was a founder member of the USMA, enthusiastic to work again with President Mary Peters so that others could share their lifelong enjoyment and success in sport. They revelled in the creation of the Mary Peters Track built in honour of Mary’s success at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Yet it was always the next goal which drove them on and both were looking forward to the establishment of permanent centre celebrating Ulster’s sporting talent and inspiring the province’s youth to fulfil their potential.
“My dream is to have a sports museum to honour our heroes of the past and to inspire future generations” said Mary. “Malcolm shared that dream and worked tirelessly for years with the Ulster Sports Museum to see that happen. What a wonderful legacy it would be as a tribute to his dedicated life promoting sport, if we could make it happen”.
The world of soccer leads the tributes through FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the premier league’s most successful manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. But there are many, many more that were enriched by knowing Malcolm. Mary spoke for the entire Ulster Sports Museum Association today when she said “I am really sad today to have lost a wonderful friend and so I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife Margaret and his loving family”.


Rory Wins Again

World number one Rory McIlroy maintained his winning momentum by clinching his fifth US PGA Tour title in Boston. Just three weeks after winning the PGA Championship by a record eight shots, Rory made it two wins in three starts with a one-shot victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The win for the 23-year-old Holywood star was his third of the season putting him level with Tiger Woods for the most victories on the US Tour this year. The win also guarantees that Rory will go into the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta later in September knowing that a victory there would earn him the overall FedExCup title and the bonus of $10 million.


Thelma jumps to relive her sporting highs

As the countdown continues to the Games of the XXX Olympiad, Ulster welcomed back a silver medalist from the 1956 Melbourne Games.

Thelma Hopkins had broken the world high jump record earlier that year (a feat commemorated by a plaque in Cherryvale Playing Fields, South Belfast). She was therefore one of the favourites for the podium in Australia.

As Thelma recently returned from her home in Canada to visit her family, the Ulster Sports Museum Association encouraged our 1954 Commonwealth Games gold medalist to take a trip down memory lane and relive those great sporting achievements in Belfast, Melbourne and Vancouver.

Thelma’s memories were recorded in sound and vision, the 59th such interview of Ulster’s sporting stars which chronicle their greatest sporting triumphs in their own words.


Ballymena Adds Olympic Theme

The Olympic torch will be one of the exhibits on display as the Ulster Sports Museum’s travelling exhibition commences the latest leg of its tour of the province.

A Mayoral Reception marked the launch in Ballymena’s Mid-Antrim Museum on Tuesday 10th July and the exhibition celebrated with new display panels and a collection focusing on the rich sporting traditions in the local area.

Displays of soccer, GAA, rugby and boxing (to name but a few) have been boosted by material representing some of Ballymena’s best known sports people including Maeve Kyle (Olympic Athlete, International hockey player and coach) and Syd Millar (International and Lions Rugby).

As the London games are almost upon us, Ballymena’s local Olympians are also celebrated in the exhibition which features material on loan from Hubert Barr, who took part in the last Great Britain squad to compete in the football tournament at the Rome Olympic Games in 1960. Also featured is hockey's Jackie McWilliams, whose team took the bronze medal in the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, after beating South Korea 4- 3 to win the 3rd place spot.

Ballymena hosts the exhibition, and a photographic display showcasing the best local talent, throughout July and August.


Lighting The Road to London 2012: Dame Mary Peters carries the flame

Dame Mary Peters, one of Northern Ireland's Olympic greats, ran in the closing stages of the Belfast torch relay and dedicated it to her coach, Buster McShane who died six months after she won gold. She said: "It was emotional for me. I have happy memories of the hard work he put me through. I felt as if I was running down the roads he walked through and paying tribute to him."

She praised the hundreds who came to Belfast City Hall for the evening celebration, saying, "It was amazing, the warmth from the crowd, the flame just burst a bubble of warmth through Royal Avenue and here in the city hall."


Exhibition Back in Belfast

The Ulster Sports Museum Travelling Exhibition returned to Belfast and was welcomed to the Linen Hall Library by two of these island’s most successful and best loved gold medallists.

Around 70,000 have visited the exhibition to date as it has toured Ulster but those at the Linen Hall launch were especially delighted to have the opening marked by both Dame Mary and her natural successor, Denise Lewis. Both are looking forward to significant anniversaries. Mary celebrates 40 years since her Munich triumph while Denise, the first British woman to land a global, multi-events title since 1972, was born within a week of Mary’s podium topping achievement.

An added bonus was the involvement of British Lions winger Trevor Ringland who spoke of the camaraderie and lasting friendships which result from sport.

The free exhibition runs until 24th April 2012 before moving on to Ards and North Down. Bookings across the nine Ulster counties are secured throughout 2012 and into 2013 with further details to be available on this website.


Double Top!

Ulster sportsmen Rory McIlroy and Mark Allen were top of the world after weekend victories in golf and snooker respectively.

Rory McIlroy topped the world rankings after his third PGA Tour victory. The Holywood man’s “coronation” as world number one has been predicted throughout most of his relatively short, but amazingly successful professional career. It came to pass after with victory at the Honda Classic in Florida, the very latest outstanding display in a tremendously consistent run in which Rory has finished in the top five of his last 11 ranking events all but once.

The weekend’s victory makes the Ulsterman the second youngest number one since the rankings began in 1986.

And Antrim’s Mark Allen was also celebrating a weekend victory after clinching his first ranking title with a crushing 10-1 triumph at the World Open final in China.


Congratulations Fiona, Wendy and Michael

Golfing triumphs have dominated the sports news over the last 6 months, and they just keep coming! A distinguished assembly of movers and shakers from all of European golf’s major bodies met in the Algarve for their Annual Congress and Awards dinner. Perhaps the most prestigious of the presentations was won by Ulster’s Michael Bannon. Michael, one of the world’s top teaching professionals and coach to European Tour star Rory McIlroy from 8 years of age, was John Jacobs Coach of the Year.

In an equally busy and successful week cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel teamed up with Sarah Storey and Laura Trott to win team pursuit gold in Cali, Colombia. Houvenaghel from Upperlands, County Londonderry won an Olympic silver in Beijing and she added a World Cup silver medal in the women's individual pursuit after finishing marginally behind New Zealander Alison Shanks.

And Belfast’s Fiona Shannon was honoured recently at the GAA Handball Awards Banquet. The 3 times World Champion won the International Player of the Year Award following the GAA Writers Ulster's Female Handballer Award for 2011.


Rory Does it Again

Holywood’s Rory McIlroy won again with a dramatic victory at the Hong Kong Open.

It was the 22 year old’s third win of the season, a victory that lifts him to 2nd in the European Tour Order of Merit. Rory’s recent form gives him a chance of pipping England’s Luke Donald in the “Race to Dubai”, this weekend’s climax of the European season. Rory, Luke and Darren Clarke will then do battle again for the Sports Personality of the year. The winner will be selected by public vote during the live BBC show on Thursday, 22 December.


Victories Home and Away

Ulster athletes have again excelled in both British and World Championships.

Niall McVeigh has previously enjoyed success at European and World Championships and he was again crowned World Para Badminton Champion when he defeated England’s Krysten Coombs in Guatemala. Niall’s performance is all the more impressive given that he didn’t drop a single set throughout the tournament. 

And there must have been a real sense of “déjà vu” for Jenna McCorkell when she won her 9th British Figure Skating title. The Coleraine skater has enjoyed tremendous success since she first began the sport as a 7-year-old, becoming the youngest ever skater to make it onto the National GB Squad at age 10 and first claiming the British title in 2003. Jenna, who has already represented GB at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, will now hope to further improve on her World standing.


NI Men AND Ladies among the Very Best in the World

The golfing world recognises the exceptional achievements of McDowell, McIlroy, Clarke and others but it isn’t just the men that are raising eyebrows!

Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow

Thanks to Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire, Northern Ireland now have two players in the top-6 in the Women's World Amateur Golf Rankings. It’s a remarkable achievement for the province with both improving their global standing.

Stephanie is in 4th place following her forth U.S Women's College victory and is now the highest ranked GB & Ireland amateur lady. Leona moved up three places to world ranked number six while twin sister Lisa is 35th.


Travelling Exhibition opens in Londonderry / Derry’s Tower Museum

Tens of thousands across the province have already enjoyed the exhibition which highlights all that is memorable within Ulster sport. However, our rich and diverse sporting heritage is now easily accessible to those in the Maiden City as Mayor Alderman Maurice Devenney welcomed the exhibition to the Tower Museum in the presence of sporting greats including boxer Charlie Nash and soccer’s Peter Hutton.

Pictured (left to right) are Craig McGuicken, Nigel Carr, Maurice Devenney and Richie Kelly.

Nigel Carr, Vice Chairman of the Ulster Sports Museum Association said "I am delighted
that the City is hosting the exhibition and particularly thank the Mayor and Tower Museum curator Craig McGuicken for the many local exhibits which emphasised the region’s sporting achievements across a variety of sports and a range of decades".

The Mayor was equally delighted the exhibition was in the city and added “This city and region has produced a large number of high calibre  sporting individuals and teams who have achieved notable success”. Radio Foyle’s Richie Kelly also spoke enthusiastically of Derry’s many sporting triumphs and the opportunity to relive them through the exhibition.

The exhibition opened on Wednesday 09 November and will remain at the Tower until 31 December 2011.


Rory wins again!

Rory McIlroy’s play-off victory to win at the Shanghai Masters continues a remarkable run of golfing success for Ulstermen. The current US Open Champion beat American Anthony Kim in a play-off to take the $2m first prize – the richest in golf.

This latest win follows the 1-2-3 Ulster finish from Michael Hoey, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Trophy and, of course, Darren Clarke’s British Open victory at Royal St George’s during the summer.


New Patrons boost support for Sports Museum

The Patrons list of the Ulster Sports Museum Association is quickly becoming the definitive “who’s who” of the province’s sporting greats. The latest additions include two of our greatest ever boxers in “Clones Cyclone”, Barry McGuigan and “Pocket Rocket”, Wayne McCullough. Those world champions are joined by Phillip McCallen and Mary Dunlop from the world of motorcycling, together with footballers, Alan Hunter, Barry Hunter and Victor Hunter. This prestigious line-up also includes Jimmy Kirkwood  (a member of the golden winning British squad at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul), GAA All-star Eugene 'Nudie' Hughes and one of the greatest rugby centres of any era, Mike Gibson (pictured).


More of Ulster’s Greatest Sports Stars support the Museum

Rory McIlroy and Peter Canavan are two of the latest additions to add their support to the concept of an Ulster Sports Museum.

Holywood’s golfing superstar and Gaelic Football’s greatest ever Ulster All Star have become patrons of the Museum, joining the likes of rugby great, Jack Kyle; hockey’s Olympic gold medallist, Stephen Martin and conqueror of Everest, Dawson Stelfox.

The Ulster Sports Museum Association is also proud and delighted to have the support of Sammy Allen (bowls), Ossie Colhoun (cricket),  Andy McClelland (kayak surfing), Iam McFaul (football), Niall McVeigh (badminton), John Madden ( triathlon) and Stuart Pollock (cricket).  With support growing across sports governing bodies, individual clubs, politicians and the wider public, it is hoped that the patrons list will be further extended in the near future with more of our most successful sportsmen and women.


George Best - New Book ''George Best will not be playing today''

George Best will not be playing todayAnother tribute to George Best was published today which includes hundreds of individual tributes and photographs which have never been made public before. It was launched in the City Hall, Belfast by the High Sheriff, Dr.Ian Adamson OBE. 

Barbara (George’s sister) and Norman McNarry attended the launch. The idea for the book “George Best will not be playing today” came from the Ulster Historical Foundation and is available at all major bookshops price £24.95.

The book has been published by the George Best Foundation, designed by Dunbar Design and printed by Scotprint For further information contact the George Best Foundation, P.O.Box 269, Newtownards, Co.Down, BT23 9DN Tel.+44 (0) 28 918 70999


Golfer Michael Hoey wins Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Michael HoeyMichael Hoey won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Trophy in Scotland by 2 strokes (266) competing against a world-class field which included the World’s No.1, 2, 3 and 5.

This was Michael’s third win on the European Tour –and his second this year.

3 Ulster men took the first 3 places in the competition - Rory McIlroy was second and Graeme McDowell third.

This is a fantastic achievement which re-inforces the quality of Ulster golfers in the world sporting scene.


Peter Chambers and Kieren Emery take gold at world championships

Coleraine’s Peter Chambers completed a fairytale season by claiming his first senior world title at the spectacular venue of Lake Bled in Slovenia yesterday.

The 21 year-old, along with Kieren Emery, rowed to gold in the final of the men’s lightweight pair giving Great Britain a first medal of the championships.

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Leona Maguire Wins British Stroke Play Title

Congratulations to Leona Maguire on winning the Ladies British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club, in Sussex England on 19th August.

It was a come-from-behind win worthy of her status as No 5 in the Women's World Amateur Rankings. Two shots off the pace and tied for third place at the halfway stage following a pair of 75s, Leona surged past the pacemakers into a five-stroke lead with a brilliant round of three-under-par 69.

Having previously won the Portuguese Ladies Amateur Open by 15 strokes earlier this year we wish this young golfer and her twin sister Lisa a bright future.


Darren Clarke wins first major aged 42 - 2011 Open Champion

Congratulations to Darren Clarke who joins Rory McIlory and Graeme McDowell as open winners from Northern Ireland. It been a while coming with more than 20 tournament wins over his career but never an open. With three victories now in 13 months for ulster's golfers what's next?


Rory McIlroy - 2011 US Open Champion

Congratulations to Rory McIlroy, one of Ulster's Sporting Heroes, on winning the 2011 United States Open in Bethedesa, Maryland. It was a win that gave Northern Ireland back-to-back successes after Graham McDowell's win at Pebble Beach, California in 2010.

Not only did the young 22-year old Ulsterman win but he smashed record after record on his way putting the Provence of Ulster back into the history books.

The support for Rory going into the last day was staggering and the world watched on to see if this young man from Northern Ireland could calm his nerves and hold on to his lead. It was like watching a lap of honour with Rory being cheered on every shot and finishing with a record winning score of 268 and 16 under par.

Let's hope this Open win will be the first of many.


The USMA Website

The Ulster Sports Museum Association has taken a further stride towards the creation of a permanent sports museum by launching its website on 3rd June. A local company, Blue Cubes Web Design from Belfast, designed the site. They have hundreds of clients across the UK and Ireland and a wealth of experience in designing websites.

Brian Morrison, Honorary Secretary of USMA, said "We were delighted to engage Blue Cubes. In planning the site Blue Cubes showed energy, commitment and technical knowledge and with their creative flair, they have been the correct choice of website design company for us."


Haley Sharpe Supports USMA

Haley Sharpe – the leading museum consultants - have reported that "the objective of creating a permanent Ulster Sports Museum to celebrate the past and inspire the future is very laudable and is definitely worthy of support". Their report says that such a museum " could be a cherished resource which would create an enduring legacy and collective archive of sporting memories; inspiring future generations to become actively involved in sport; and bringing other significant personal and community benefits"


Politicians Supports USMA

Peter Robinson, First Minister, and Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister, have told the USMA that they " are supportive of your proposals to celebrate the achievements of local sportsmen and women which provide inspiration to others, particularly young people, to become involved in support and continue the tradition of sporting excellence here" and have encouraged the USMA to continue to work with DCAL officials on the proposals.


Sporting Hall of Fame

Tandem Design have been working with the USMA on the possibilities of creating a Sporting Hall of Fame which might travel around major towns and sporting events and visit schools. The aim would be to create the facility by 2012/3 and it might later become before a central part of a permanent museum. The USMA will be exploring how this concept might be funded and how to manage the selection of those who would feature in the Hall of Fame.

Ulster's Sporting Heroes

Joey Dunlop

William Joseph "Joey" Dunlop, OBE (February 25, 1952 - July 2, 2000), was a world champion motorcyclist from Ballymoney in Northern Ireland, best known for road racing.

Janet Gray

Until Janet discovered the world of water skiing and her life was dramatically transformed! By sheer determination and love of the sport Janet reached the pinnacle of disabled water skiing.

Mary Peters

Dame Mary Elizabeth Peters, DBE, DL (born 6 July 1939) is a former Olympic Gold Medal winning British athlete, competing mainly in the pentathlon and shot put.

Jack Kyle

John Wilson Kyle (born 10 January 1926, Belfast), commonly referred to as Jackie Kyle, is a former rugby union player who played for Ireland, the Lions and the Barbarians during the 1940-50s.

Wendy Houvenaghel

Wendy Louise Houvenaghel (born Wendy Louise McLean, 27 November 1974) is a British racing cyclist from Upperlands, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, riding on both the road and track.

Barry McGuigan

Finbarr Patrick McGuigan MBE (born 28 February 1961), known as Barry McGuigan and nicknamed The Clones Cyclone, is a former Irish professional boxer who became a world featherweight champion.

Mike Bull

Michael ("Mike") Bull (born 11 September 1946, Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a retired male pole vaulter and decathlete from Northern Ireland.


Travelling Exhibition

Donegal County Museum, Letterkenney

From Present to January 2014

Next Locations

  • Details coming soon...