Remembering Mary Radcliffe

There was more sadness recently with the news of the passing of former ICA member Mary Radcliffe.

Mary and her husband Bill were regular faces at ICA bonspiels for many years.

They particularly supported the Irish Weekend at Stranraer which was organised for 20 odd years by their great friends, Jim and Kathie Nixon.

Mary (second left) was a keen member of the ICA

Mary is pictured here in the winning rink of an ICA bonspiel in 2013.

The sympathies of all the members goes out to Bill and family.

Remembering Anne Gumley

TRIBUTES from across the curling world have been paid this week to Anne Gumley.

ICA founder member Anne Gumley

Anne was a founder member of the Irish Curling Association and was always a great supporter of the Irish curlers, whenever they took to the ice.

A native of Northern Ireland, Anne was one of a merry band of Irish players that crossed the sea to play an exhibition match on outdoor ice in front of Belfast City Hall in December 1999.

She and her late husband were very involved with curling in Edinburgh, especially at the much-missed Gogar Park Ice Rink.

Anne’s daughter-in-law Vicky, herself a Scottish champion curler, recently said that Anne was very proud to get her Irish passport a couple of years ago but was disappointed it wasn’t green!

The heartfelt sympathies of all the members of the ICA go out to Anne’s family and we acknowledge and remember the important part she played in the early days of Irish curling.

Ireland win triple crown at Fenton’s – 10 years ago!

As there will be no ICA curling for some time, all we can do is remember our past glories.

Rewind to January 2011 and the Four Nations was held at Fenton’s Ice Rink in Kent.

Ireland won the Turnbull Trophy against England, the Marshall Millennium against Scotland and the Meikle Trophy against Wales. President Bill Gray collected all the trophies that year.

Flashback to the Euros 2010

TEN years ago this very day – December 11 – the last medal was won by Ireland in the European B League.

John, Bill, Robin, Johnjo, Neil and Jim with their medals and their cheese

It was a bronze that year, won by the men’s team of Robin Gray, Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, Neil Fyfe, John Furey and coach Jim Winning.

The B League Championship was played down the valley in Monthey with the A League in Champrey that year.

WCF scholarship support for ICA President

IRISH Curling Association President Eoin McCrossan has been selected by the World Curling Federation to receive a scholarship towards a Postgrad Certificate in International Sports Management, starting next year through the University of London Distance Learning Programme.

Eoin is excited about his selection and is looking forward to starting the course work in 2021.

ICA President Eoin McCrossan in action for Ireland

Here, Eoin explains to our members what is involved and how it will benefit him and the ICA in the future.

He said: “The course, offered in conjunction with the World Academy of Sport, is both an academically sound and industry focused qualification. The University of London aim to give students the skills needed for the professional management of organisations within the sporting world, something I have had a taste of so far in my first year as president.

“With core modules in leadership, governance and finance as well as electives in a whole of topics from marketing and media to entrepreneurship it seems like a really broad course and one I am really excited to get started with. Building on my time with Scottish Curling, I hope this will enhance my professional skills and enable me to lead the ICA even more effectively and drive both myself and the committee to new heights. I am incredibly grateful to the WCF for their support as without them, I wouldn’t be able to undertake this qualification.”  

Eoin at his graduation

We all wish him the best of luck with his studies and we are all very proud that our President was chosen by the WCF for a scholarship.

In memory of Fiona Turnbull

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.

Irish Women’s Team – Sofia 2004 L->R: Louise Kerr, Jane Paterson, Marie O’Kane, Fiona Turnbull, Kathie Nixon

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.

Irish Women’s Seniors, Tårnby, Copenhagen; Isobel Fyfe, Jane Paterson, Fiona Turnbull, Kathie Nixon

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.

World Mixed Doubles qualifier cancelled

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:

2020-2021 season gets underway

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.

The winners – clockwise – Frances, Gilly, David and Nathan

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.

Rewind 10 years…..

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.

Golden girls – Carolyn, Louise ,Hazel and Mel

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.