Lives Remembered

Jim Hurson: 'Big Jim' was towering presence in pool and gentleman outside it

Jim Hurson was a key member of the Clonard waterpolo team which won an unprecedented 14 Irish championships in a row

IT is hard to believe that Jim Hurson has passed away.

‘Big Jim’ was a gentleman, full of humour, always quick with a quip and generous to a fault.

He was also a very accomplished and competitive sportsman. Swimming and waterpolo were his forte.

In the 1950s and '60s he won a total of 11 Irish swimming titles. However, he is probably even better known as a waterpolo player.

Jim was the backbone of Clonard Swimming and Waterpolo Club in west Belfast for many years.

From 1960 until 1973, Clonard won an unprecedented 14 Irish championships in a row and were virtually unbeatable.

This was in a large part due to the towering presence of ‘Big Jim’ and his brother Charlie in that team.

As a young boy in the early 1960s, I began to dabble in waterpolo. At that time I was given tickets to see Clonard play the British champions London Polytechnic in the Grove Baths.

I watched Clonard demolish their opponents with Jim Hurson the outstanding player. This game convinced me that waterpolo was the sport for me.

When I started playing with Clonard Jim was my hero. Down the years the big full-back inspired many like me to take up swimming and waterpolo.

I have never met a more dedicated and committed athlete than Big Jim. A regular at Buster McShane's gym in the '60s, his training regime would have put many professional sportsmen to shame.

I eventually became part of the Clonard and in time Irish teams and was honoured to play alongside Jim for many years. It was always a great comfort to know he had your back.

Jim’s international career extended into the 1980s. He was a shining example of a committed sportsman and will be greatly missed by all of us.

Originally from Dimsdale Street of the Springfield Road in west Belfast, Jim had lived for many years in Glenarm, a place he was very fond of. He enjoyed the outdoors, walking in the hills around the Glens.

He was also very well known as a bookmaker on the Andersonstown Road for much of his working life.

However, he was first and foremost a family man devoted to his beloved wife Clara and immensely proud of his daughter, sons and grandsons, who will all feel his loss most deeply.

It is to them and his extended family we offer our sincere sympathy.

Jim Hurson died aged 80 on Sunday and a Mass celebrating his life was held at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Glenarm, on Wednesday.

Kevin Armstrong

Clonard Swimming and Waterpolo Club

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Lives Remembered