THE members of the Irish Curling Association, past and present, are mourning the sad loss of one of its founding members and Past-President – Fiona Turnbull.
Fiona passed away last week at the age of 76 after a hard fought battle with cancer.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the redoubtable Fiona was the ‘mother’ of the ICA having discussed the idea of forming an association with John Burns during a long car journey home from a competition in 1991.
Once the seed was sown, the official body for Irish curlers soon took root and grew strong and healthy, with, for many years, Fiona front and centre.
With her roots in Northern Ireland and her career as a physiotherapist in the Borders, near to her beloved Kelso Ice Rink, she was ideally placed to move from being an excellent club curler to an international player.
Fiona was part of the first Irish women’s team to take to the ice at Gogar Park in December 1993 when, under the banner of the Northern Ireland Curling Association, she played with Carolyn Hibberd, Liz Knox, and Susan Scotland against a team of Northern Irish men, the men squeaking a one-shot victory.
It took ten years of lobbying by many, including Fiona, to the World Curling Federation before the all-Ireland association was accepted into the fold and in December 2004, born-leader Fiona skipped the first Irish women’s rink at an officially-recognised international championships, in the European Curling Championships B league in Sofia, Bulgaria.
That first squad of five players (Fiona, Marie O’Kane, Louise Kerr, Jane Paterson and Kathie Nixon) were, after a shaky start, dragooned by Fiona into a decent team that got to a play-off for the bronze medal game, eventually losing out to Hungary.
After the high octane excitement of that first Europeans, before the plane had landed at Heathrow, Fiona was planning for the next Europeans in Garmish-Partenkirchen, in the snow-clad Bavarian Alps. A reasonable show there the following year saw the team end up in the middle of the pack in the B League, but having had the European adventure, Fiona decided it was time to play in a World Championships and it was off to the seniors.
As Ireland’s skip, Fiona played in four world seniors from 2005 to 2008, in Greenacres, Scotland; Tårnby, Denmark; Edmonton, Canada and Vierumaki, Finland. Her team for the seniors was Jane Paterson, the late Isobel Fyfe, Kathie Nixon and fifth player Liz Knox.
During those four championships, Fiona’s wingman, third player and confidante, Jane Paterson, shared in the ups and the downs, the on-ice battles and the off-ice banter.
In a personal tribute to her close friend, Jane remembers: ”My friendship with Fiona was forged during our years together in the Irish Senior Ladies Team, where we enjoyed a heady mix of highs, lows and frustrations in the true spirit of curling camaraderie. She was an encouraging skip, skilful tactician and if a shot was needed to save an end, you couldn’t find a more reliable shot maker than Fiona.
“Her range of interests were wide and varied. An avid crossword solver, knowledgeable plantswoman and opinionated commentator on national and world events. Time spent in her company was both entertaining and instructive and I shall dearly miss that. She had a kind and generous heart and showed enormous courage throughout her long illness.
“Her loss will be keenly felt by her family, close friends and the many lives she touched. None more so than the curling fraternity of “The Roaring Game” of which she was so much a part.”
After Fiona retired from both her job and the international stage, after 44 caps for Ireland, she continued to support the Irish Curling Association at the Four Nations competition, when she played for Ireland against England, Scotland and Wales, and also at the annual ‘Irish Weekend’ at Stranraer Ice Rink, where, just last February, she took charge of the raffle and toured the tables in her unique fashion selling tickets to raise funds for the ICA, her eagle eye missing no one!
We will all miss Fiona for just being Fiona…..loyal, cheery, pioneering, entertaining.
She took Irish women’s curling by the scruff of the neck and led us into battle like a latter-day Boudicca in emerald green.
Fiona was well respected and admired in the close-knit curling community of the Borders and the wider Four Nations curling band of brothers and sisters. Our sympathies go to her two sons Andy and Doug, daughter-in-law Roni, granddaughter Kate, her brothers Christopher and Peter and all those who knew her best and loved her most.
The WCF have pulled the last remaining event for 2020 – the world mixed doubles qualifier in Erzurum, Turkey in December.
The ICA were sending the team of John Wilson and Alison Fyfe to the event but it, like much all the rest of the world events in 2020, has been cancelled due to the ongoing risks to everyones health during the current pandemic.
The ICA were sad not to be able to compete in this fascinating discipline, but fully understand and support the WCF’s decision.
Read more here:
The 2020-21 ICA season kicked off at Greenacres for our opening bonspiel with 16 members gathering and getting used to the new “Return To Curling” guidelines. Temperatures were taken upon entering the rink, social distancing was enforced at all times and there was a keen eye to spot the trendiest mask on display. Crucially, however, two games of curling were played with everyone enjoying both being back on the ice and the company and camaraderie that is at the heart of the Irish Curling Association.
David Whyte and his team of Nathan Furey, Gilly Drury and Frances Donald took on James Russell’s team which included Christine Furey, Ian Donald and Christina Graham. David forged out into an early lead but was pegged back as the Russell outfit found their sea legs and marched along the comeback trail. With the scores tied coming into the final end, it proved a step too far for Team Russell as David scored 2 to complete a 7-5 win.
John Wilson’s rink of Eoin McCrossan, John Burns and Claire McCormick had a stuttering start against Andrew Gilmore, Arran Cameron, Frances Whyte and Eleanor Burns. A big score of 4 turned the tied however as the teams head towards the last few ends. Leading by 2 in the last end, Team Wilson needed more to seal the bonspiel title but couldn’t muster it as Andrew and co claimed a final end steal. Final score: 7-6.
President Eoin concluded the day by thanking both everyone who attended as well as the staff at Greenacres for their work to ensure both a safe and enjoyable day. Prizes were distributed and all eyes now turn to the battle for The Fyfe Trophy at The Irish Open taking place at Greenacres in three weeks time.
IN one of our occasional retrospective posts, we look back ten years to the European C League at Greenacres in September 2010 and a gold medal for the Irish women’s team.
Having never together played before – in some cases even met each other – Carolyn Hibberd, Louise Kerr, Hazel Gormley-Leahy, and Mel Porter came through the qualifier to book their place at that year’s European B League in Champrey, Switzerland in December. They were ably coached at the C League by Johnjo Kenny.
Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia also sent teams to Greenacres, and the Irish beat the Turkish team 11-3 in the final.
The World Curling Federation has taken the decision to cancel this year’s World Mixed Curling Championships due to be held in Aberdeen 10-17 October.
The team of John Wilson, Alison Fyfe, Craig Whyte and Jen Ward would have represented Ireland at the championships, having won the national playdown in March.
Read the full statement here:
We, your committee, like to think that we are approachable and know the mood of our members. One of the key areas of our development plan is the membership offering and so we have put together a short survey to ensure that was the case and to hear your ideas for reinforcing and growing our membership.
Please answer as honestly as possible and only say you are interested in events if you really are and will travel to support such. Also please take the time to explain if required or add suggestions at the end.
We will close the survey on Sunday 9th August to allow some time to review at our next committee meeting. This was sent to all members by email on 27th July – if you haven’t received it please check your junk mail and reach out if we have missed you somehow!
I have a pair of curling stones for sale if anyone is interested.
They are at least 100 year old, of Ailsa Craig granite and did get a run out on outdoor ice during the cold snap of January 2010.
Please contact me on 0771 8021777 or e-mail me at email@example.com for more information.
Eoin McCrossan became the youngest ever President of the Irish Curling Association yesterday during the Association’s first-ever virtual annual general meeting on Zoom.
Twenty-eight members of the ICA dialed in including Katie in LA and Colin and Dale in Ontario.
David Whyte, who has put in a lot of work on behalf of the ICA during his three years in the post as our president, gave his report for the curtailed season, due to the coronavirus pandemic, thanking the members for their support during his time in office. He congratulated Margarita Sweeney-Baird being awarded the British Empire Medal for her work with inclusive skating.
He highlighted the news that the World Mixed Championships were to be held at Aberdeen for the next three seasons meaning John Wilson and his team of Alison Fyfe, Craig Whyte and Jen Ward would be heading there in October to represent Ireland, assuming the 2020-2021 season gets underway. David expressed disappointment that the world health crisis deprived teams of the opportunity to represent Ireland internationally.
The financial report showed the ICA to be in a good financial position to move quickly to establish curling in Ireland in the future although establishing a venue remains elusive. David thanked Craig Whyte for his work on the DAP funding.
The big news was that Eoin McCrossan had been proposed and seconded for the role of president and this was approved by the meeting with a virtual show of clapping hands and thumbs-ups. Eoin arrived on the scene, and memorably disappeared from the ice, at the Four Nations in 2015 down at Fentons. Since then he has become an integral part of Irish curling and has represented his country at the World Mixed Doubles Championships and the European C League. Aged 27, he becomes the ICA’s youngest-ever president.
After his elevation to the top job, President Eoin said: “It is a great honour and quite humbling to become the president of the Irish Curling Association and I am aware of the long line of excellent presidents that I follow, particularly the immediate past president, David Whyte. David always showed considered and thoughtful leadership while allowing others on the committee and wider association to be heard and feel valued. His commitment to the role was shown in the extra year he served as well as leaving an excellent mark through the establishment of the ICA Development Plan and the memorable achievement of our Curling in Dublin in January 2019.“
“I am very excited to build on this excellent work and am touched by the many supportive messages I have received from members and can’t wait to get started. I hope through my term to increase opportunities for association members both on and off the ice, maintain our growth in membership and continue our dedicated march towards ice in Ireland. Who knows – there might even be a few success at the Four Nations and WCF events along the way!“
There was also a welcome onto the committee for John Wilson.
Good luck to Eoin for his two-year tenure and, hopefully, we will all meet again on the ice later in the year.
Mousemaster Eoin McCrossan reports on the recent digital curling challenge between Ireland and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
“Eight ICA members were victorious in their international digital curling challenge against Saudi Arabia overcoming an overnight deficit to secure a 124-116 victory. The curlers were split into two teams of four and took on four of their Saudi counterparts across the weekend. Eoin, Gillian, David and Clare teamed up in half of the draw with John Wilson, Johnjo, Frances and Tom completing the octet. The competition was based on total shots, with the nation scoring the most winning.
“The competition began with opening ceremonies and greetings between both side with President David welcoming the challenge from the Saudi contingent. A strong start on Saturday morning saw the Irish storm out to a commanding lead before a swift reversal of fortunes and some incredibly dominant Saudi wins swung momentum in their favour and saw them take an overnight lead of eight shots.
“After overnight pep talks and renewed focus the Irish kept everything tight and clawed back shot after shot as things got tighter and then tension rose. Sunday afternoon was the hammer blow for the Saudi effort with some crucial large wins for the Irish squad meant they had an unassailable seven shot lead heading into the last game. An entertaining four ends followed with the ‘Mousemaster’ playing an aggressive game an emerge victorious and cap the tie off with a flourish.
“Closing ceremonies followed with newly formed friendships and potential new curling destinations on the horizons front and centre. Particularly mention must go to John Wilson who not only won all four of his games, contributed 27 shots to the Irish cause – a remarkable 20 per cent of the Irish total!”