Sean Lavan, People from Co. Mayo

Sean Lavan was a Teacher, Surgeon, Footballer and Athlete. He was born in 1898 in Kiltimagh.

He won his first medal for boxing while training to be a teacher in de la Salle College Waterford in 1919. Later, while teaching in Cloongullane National School, near Swinford, he taught handball after school.

Between 1918-24 he played football for Kiltimagh and Mayo and was the first to use the 'Solo run' or 'hand to toe' technique, now an integral part of the game. When a wrist injury prevented his playing football he strayed into running. He was a natural runner and won his first competition in Castlebar, running in his bare feet.

He was an instant and spectacular success and between 1924-8 won every competition in the country and established records, at least one of which, the Inter Varsity Points record, still stands. Sean represented Ireland in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, captained the 1928 team in Amsterdam and was medical officer to the 1956 team.

During all this time he was attending UCD where he won the O'Ferrall medal for surgery in 1929 and his second career took off. He went on to become Lecturer in Anatomy and later Surgeon in Temple St. Hospital and Police Surgeon. He also found time to write articles for Caman and in 1932 Sean addressed the INTO Conference when he argued for sport's potential to bring peace to this island.

Altogether, Sean Lavan earned over 120 medals which were exhibited in Kiltimagh in 1997. His life and career reflects his extraordinary natural ability and apparently effortless mastery of many diverse areas.

Sean Lavan died in 1973 and is survived by his son and two daughters.

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