This page is where we will gather various pieces about the history of Irish Orienteering.
If you can add to this history please email info at orienteering ie

Irish Orienteering History

There is already some interesting pages on Earliest Maps and Aubrey Flegg’s article Looking Back to May 1969

Willie Cunningham shared some more history earlier this year before his passing.

Munster Orienteering Beginnings

Kilfinane Development Association Ltd. Introduced Orienteering to Munster as part of their Festival in 1971. On 31st July 1971 they wrote a hand-written letter to Willie Cunningham Esq. Kilkeel, Co. Down, stating:

“Enclosed herewith is an extract from our brochure for Festival which will be of interest to you:

Saturday September 4thJoin the experts at 2 pm. Go orienteering through woodlands and Scenic Routes (see special brochure). Sponsored walk in conjunction with orienteering, same route, in aid of Church funds. Participants to secure sponsors. Sunday September 5th Stage 2 of Orienteering programme (see special brochure). Please communicate with me on the above. Yours sincerely *E. Goggin (Hon Sec)”.

*Note: The E. Goggin mentioned above was Anne Goggin’s (current BOC member) father Edmond.  Current BOC member Diarmuid O’Leary was at an event in Thomastown in about 1974; it was his first time in Kilfinane.


The following appeared in a National Newspaper

“Kilfinane Orienteering Event.

The first orienteering event in Munster will be held by the Irish Orienteers at Kilfinane, Co. Limerick on Sunday next, August 29th 1971 at 1 pm.

Each competitor will receive a special map, drawn up by Willie Cunningham of Cork, and at a noted time he sets off to find certain number of points around the fixed course. The particular map to be used will be to the scale of 6 inches to one mile. The more experienced will be using a compass and those skilled in navigation and map reading are bound to record the fastest time.

 The Irish Orienteers were founded in 1969 and hold regular events throughout the Wicklow area. A Dublin team finished a creditable seventh in the European City Championships in Scotland recently, and they will also compete this weekend.


A: Senior Men and Women

B: Intermediate and Junior

C: Under 18 and 15, and “Wayfarers”.


Only the results of Course A (Senior Men and Senior Women) survive (results for Course B and for course C are lost). Note the ” & a half” in the results below.


Senior Men:

  • Michael Lunt 119 min
  • Sean Rothery 119 & a half
  • Paddy O’Leary 128 & a half
  • Robert Garrett 153
  • Ted McGrath 160
  • Tom McCormack 161
  • B. McGrath 163
  • Neil Mather 172
  • D. Cronin 193
  • Sean O’Sullivan 194
  • Gearoid O’Sullivan 195
  • John Meagher 197
  • Paud O’Regan 197
  • Liam Convery 212
  • B. Power 231
  • John Maguire 284

Senior Women (Same Course)

  • Hazel Convery 225 min
  • Mary O’Sullivan 272
  • Jill Mather DNF
  • A .N. Other dnf

Kilfinane (now Thomastown Wood) (B & W map)

Area surveyed (Scale 6 inches = 1 mile) and drawn by Willie Cunningham and courses planned by him.

Early Leinster Events

Irish Orienteers Poulanass (3 colours: black, green & brown)

Surveyed by P. Barry, the Lynams and E. Healy, October 1971 to April 1972. (Contour interval 50 ft., scale 1:10560. Map is oriented to Magnetic North’ permit number 1463)


LOC Newsletter and The Irish Orienteer

Orienteering in Ireland
Orienteering Ireland, Irish Sport HQ, Blanchardstown
D15 DY62, Ireland