“The man says he is Irish, he is also drunk.”

by Kieran Healy on August 30, 2004

Ireland won a gold medal at the Olympics this year, but after the appalling intervention of ex-priest and arch-gobshite Neil Horan in the marathon, Cian O’Connor’s performance in the showjumping competition wont’ be remembered as Ireland’s main contribution to the games. Dressed in a kilt and green hat with a handwritten sign on his chest reading “The Second Coming is Near,” Horan attacked the leader of the race, Brazil’s Vanderlei de Lima, at around the 21-mile mark. He knocked the guy over into the crash barriers. Amazingly, de Lima got up and—though he looked like he was in agony—continued running, only to be beaten into third place. Horan’s last public appearance was at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last year, where he ran onto the track. You’ll notice from the news photos that he was wearing the same outfit then as now.

I am of course horribly embarrassed on behalf of Ireland generally, and I hope some of Horan’s sneaking regarders back home will be feeling bad now that they’ve pissed off the whole of Brazil and forever burned their already-slim chances of hitting it off with any of their volleyball players. At the same time, I despaired at the behavior of the Greek officials at the race. Although de Lima had a policeman riding alongside him, and the route was lined with people in official T-Shirts, and this was supposed to be games with the highest degree of camera surveillance in history, Horan had no trouble running out onto the course and attacking the leader. The crowd reacted faster than the police. Even if you didn’t know that Horan had a history of interrupting major sporting events, you’d think that someone at the race might have suspected that the guy in the leprechaun costume with a Star of David on his leg and a message about the end of the world plastered to him just might have been planning to do something when the leading runners and the TV cameras hove into sight.



dsquared 08.30.04 at 3:45 am

Tsk, what a langer.


Carlos 08.30.04 at 6:31 am

He wants his gold.



Nicolas Bray 08.30.04 at 8:08 am

It seems pretty likely that Horan is just plain old crazy so I think there’s no reason for Ireland to be embarrassed here.

Canada, on the other hand, should hang its head in shame. (And please ignore the fact that it was an American company that put him up to it.)


Andrew Brown 08.30.04 at 8:51 am

Horam, when he was still a priest in the mid-Nineties, used to send press releases about the millennium to the religious correspondents in London. It was apparent then that he was going clinically insane, even to people who read lots of religious press releases every day. His bishop (Southwark, I think) issued a statement saying he was schizophrenic after his first big freakout, which I think involved politics, though the details are blurred. After that he spent some time in an asylum.

I’m surprised he doesn’t have a blog.


bad Jim 08.30.04 at 9:39 am

[lengthy expletive deleted]

Let’s look forward to the day when “The man says he is Irish, he is also drunk.” is no longer considered redundant.


Tice 08.30.04 at 10:11 am

So the good Father, with his remarkable history of ruining sports events, was able to board a plane for Athens during the Olympics?

England makes sure their worst hooligans stay on the island during the championships. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea.


bad Jim 08.30.04 at 10:18 am

Of course, Blair sent Berlusconi to the hospital playing football. Try as I might, I can’t feel bad about it.


Jonathan Goldberg 08.30.04 at 2:06 pm

I imagine there is a large number of odd-looking clowns on the fringes of the Olympics. Almost none of them make real trouble. Being wise after the event is too easy.


JamesW 08.30.04 at 2:07 pm

Let’s hope he next tries to disrupt the section of the Paris-Dakar rally for giant turbocharged off-road trucks.


Nat Whilk 08.30.04 at 2:37 pm

“Even if you didn’t know that Horan had a history of interrupting major sporting events, you’d think that someone at the race might have suspected that the guy in the leprechaun costume with a Star of David on his leg and a message about the end of the world plastered to him just might have been planning to do something when the leading runners and the TV cameras hove into sight.”

Wouldn’t that be profiling? ;-)


billyfrombelfast 08.30.04 at 3:22 pm

Well the guy’s insane, so I don’t think we have anything to be embarassed about.


andrew cooke 08.30.04 at 3:41 pm

racial stereotyping, restriction of individual rights based on appearance, and blaming a nation for one idiot’s behaviour. impressive.


Randy Paul 08.30.04 at 3:54 pm

I agree with Andrew. My wife’s Brazilian and I think that she was more outraged by the fact that he was a priest than anything else.


Matt Weiner 08.30.04 at 4:18 pm

Bad Jim–Why are you trying?


fantazia 08.30.04 at 5:47 pm

Film of the incident viewable here:


nick 08.30.04 at 6:19 pm

He’s a Kerryman, no? That doesn’t help negate that famous stereotype.


Keith Gaughan 08.30.04 at 6:36 pm

It’s worth noting that the bloke is living in the UK right now, so there’s little we could do about restricting the gobshite’s movements in that regard. There have been calls by politicians here in Ireland to have his Irish passport taken off him, but that, I’m afraid, is as far as we can possibly go right now.


dermot 08.30.04 at 9:09 pm


you can’t take credit for everything good any Irish person does. You shouldn’t feel embarassed by anything that any Irish person does. Especially someone who is as certifiable as this guy. I thought we’d gone beyond this “embarassment for the nation” stuff.

Dermot (in Dublin)


Lance Boyle 08.30.04 at 9:17 pm

It’s tacitly assumed that the Greeks themselves were running security for the Games, but it’s not so.
From this distance, you’d think that security measures would increase the closer you got to the end of the Games, especially for a race as high-profile as the marathon. But did they?
Of course they did.
What’s the actual result of Horan’s move? What’s it done to the focus of world attention? How has it redirected sympathy and regard? Has it scrambled the view?
The fun thing about cattle-mutilations and crop circles is they make the in-between mentalities much more skeptical of the arcane and convoluted. “Conspiracy theories” now meaning, beyond re-interpretation or redefinition, things that are not real.
When in fact we are in the midst of the grandest and most complex conspiracies ever conceived.
Franklin, even though he’s confessed to it, was not a spy and did not transfer any intelligence data, to anyone.
Another nutjob in the media spotlight…

So who was running security in Athens?
Well yeah.


Tom T. 08.31.04 at 2:14 am

Nick, my reaction was initially similar to yours. I figured Horan must be a Kerry man; after all, he’s a goofball causing chaos in the streets. But then it occurred to me that Horan’s drinking habits and his tendency toward unilateral violence might peg him as a Bush guy instead.


Tom T. 08.31.04 at 2:31 am

So, Lance, what are you really saying? Was Horan working for the Priory of Sion? Was de Lima getting too close to the Grail?


SqueakyRat 08.31.04 at 4:03 am

Just saw his head off. Problem solved!


woodturtle 08.31.04 at 5:23 am

That was not an effective way to advertise the Second Coming. Besides, who knows what Coming it actually is? The aliens may have done soul adjustments at several critical time periods in the past.

At any rate, if it really is some type of alien return visit, then having a gold vs. bronze medal might not have that much meaning.


Hedley Lamarr 08.31.04 at 10:01 pm

These days a pet owner can have a
microchip inserted painlessly in
a dog’s shoulder. You all should
do the same to this nutter and
then keep on eye on him.


maria 09.02.04 at 10:08 am

Looks like the sporting community in Ireland is doing its best to make amends for the de Lima incident … by inviting him to a piss up.

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