Fionn Murray, class '83
1965 - 1998
Fionn Murray was born on July 20th, 1965, the youngest of a large family from Sligo. His years at Castleknock (1978 – 1983) were very happy ones, spanning a time when everyone was a boarder, and strong friendships were made. He had the good fortune to be part of the class of ‘83, the year in which Castleknock last reached the final of the Leinster Senior Cup. Enjoying the excitement that went with following the team, Fionn was perhaps the only person who remained relaxed in the stands at Donnybrook when it looked like a definite loss to Clongowes in the closing minutes of the quarter- final replay. “Ah, they’ll do it”, he predicted, and he was proven right.
Though small in height, Fionn was as brave and strong as could be, and possessed of great character and unusual talent. With classmate, Tom Skuse, he was one of those very few people endowed with natural acrobatic skill. When the yearly College Union day came around, he was always to be found in white gym gear, under the command of Ronnie McCarten, giving gymnastic displays of particular quality.
That Fionn might do something different when he left school, was not a surprise to those who knew him well. Some of his elder brothers had been involved in motor racing, and he decided to try his hand at it. Though a late starter at the sport, it was soon observed that he had a special prowess as a racing driver. His ascent in this new world was rapid, winning every title at Formula Ford level in record time and breaking lap records at various racing circuits along the way. Presented with national Sportstar awards, he remained modest throughout, barely acknowledging his talent. Taken on by a racing team in England, he soon excelled in the company of more experienced international drivers, captivating those in the know with his natural ability. Competing in the 1990 Brands Hatch Festival (the world championship of Formula Ford racing), he beat many famous names, to take second place. Watching in the company of thousands of spectators, his elderly father remained as calm as ever, believing of course that one more lap and his son would have won it.
Fionn went on to race in England and elsewhere in Europe at a higher level, but the lure of a family life in Ireland was a strong one for him. By his side during his racing career had been his beloved, Jessica, and after a fairytale romance came a fairytale wedding. Settling down to live in a beautiful part of north County Sligo, they were soon blessed with two children, a daughter, Sasha, born in 1995, and a son, Killian, born in 1997. To say that Fionn was a loving and devoted husband and father sounds like a cliché, but it is very true. The sad thing is that it was so shortlived.
On May 30th, 1998, Fionn accompanied his father-in-law, Holger Schiller, on a short adventure flight from Strandhill airport in County Sligo. In a matter of minutes, the light aircraft crashed and they were both killed. His wife, Jessica, had lost her husband and father, and the lives of Sasha and Killian were to be changed forever.
A deep tragedy it was, but Fionn would have been very proud of the way in which they all coped. With enormous resilience, Jessica forged on with family life in Sligo, raising Sasha and Killian into the great young people that they are today. Believe it or not, they are both already involved in competitive motor racing, on occasions battling against each other. To see them both following in the footsteps of their father, at such young ages, is an amazing sight. To spot the traces of their father in each of them is a joy to behold.
Across the road from the gates to Lissadell House in County Sligo, there is an old church, set amidst tall old trees. At the western end of this church, sits a very large monumental gravestone in brown granite. If you are passing by some day, please stop and say a prayer, for there lie the remains of Fionn Murray, a great friend and one of nature’s true gentlemen.