When the late Jerry Kiernan retired as a professional athlete in the late 90’s he had achieved greatness. He represented Ireland in the 1984 Olympics, secured course records all over the country and won two Dublin marathons. Although finished with racing he was by no means finished with athletics. With no more races left to run, a life-time worth of knowledge and a desire to help others he decided to take on a coaching role. He wanted to help the next generation make an impact on the athletics world too.
He initially set up an elite training group in UCD which he methodically supervised. Word of mouth quickly spread, and this group began to grow. It remained a place for elite athletes to train but Jerry accepted anyone with a love of running and the will to improve, in fact that was the only criteria to join. The small informal group now colloquially known as the JK Harriers blossomed and has been going strong for over twenty years. Anyone who has ever been involved with this group has benefited and improved. Jerry has trained everyone from Irish international athletes to those simply trying to improve on their local park run time. He set a collegiate relaxed tone where everyone was welcome. Life-long friendships were formed, and the training sessions held in the cloistered tree lined fields of UCD were a perfect setting for self-improvement.
Athletics can be a lonely sport but in the right environment it can also be a collective endeavour. The group deeply cares about each other’s individual pursuits and encouragement is the order of the day. Jerry was a teacher by profession, and this carried over into his beloved training group. He would love to impart knowledge and encourage us all not only to be better athletes but maybe slightly better people too.
Jerry has helped, influenced, coached, advocated, befriended, and pushed us all towards our personal goals. With his untimely passing it is vital we keep his spirit of helping those who need it alive. We benefited from him and now we must pay that forward. The Jerry Kiernan Trust is the most fitting way of preserving this legacy. Jerry Kiernan has left a mark on all of us.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” Pericles