Martin Sheridan was a native of Bohola, County Mayo, Ireland. When he died in 1918 at the age of 36 his obituary in the New York Times described him as ‘one of the greatest athletes the United States has ever known’. Sheridan, who was a brother-in-law of General Michael Collins, was educated locally in Mayo. He excelled at various athletic events and played Gaelic Football.
At the age of 18 in 1899 Sheridan emigrated, along with two of his brothers, to the United States. He worked at various jobs including as an athletic instructor in New York. He was selected to represent the US at the 1904 Olympic Games. At the games, which were held in St Louis, Missouri, Sheridan won his first Olympic Gold Medal in the discus.
Martin Sheridan joined the New York Police Department in 1906. In that year he won two Gold Medals (Discus and Shot Put) and three silver medals in other events at the Olympic Games in Athens. The King of Greece, Giorgis I, presented Sheridan with a gold goblet and vaulting pole in recognition of his achievements. The vaulting pole is now on display in Bohola, together with some of his medals and trophies. Medals awarded at the 1906 Games are however not recognised today by the International Olympic Committee.
In the 1908 Olympic Games in London Sheridan won two Gold Medals (Discus) and one Bronze Medal (Long Jump). He came back to Ireland following his success at the 1908 Olympics and visited Bohola. During his time in Ireland he gave exhibitions at Dundalk, Dungarvan, Dublin, and Ballina. Sheridan was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Martin Sheridan became a highly regarded police officer in New York. He was awarded for his bravery when he risked his life to save a family from a house fire. In his honour the Martin J. Sheridan Award is given annually for bravery to a member of the New York Police Department.
The day before his 37th birthday Martin Sheridan died of pneumonia in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, New York during the outbreak of Spanish Flu in 1918. . He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York. On the Celtic cross on his grave is inscribed: ‘Devoted to the Institutions of his Country, and the Ideals and Aspirations of his Race. Athlete. Patriot’.
Martin John Sheridan winner of nine Olympic medals was born Bohola, County Mayo, Ireland, in the year 1881 On This Day.
By Mecca cigarette company – www.wingedfist.org, PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20889159
Image from page 46 of “New York State fair and agricultural and industrial exposition. Syracuse, September 9 to 14, 1912.” (1912)