By noted athletics historian Michael O’Dwyer
Frank Freer was born on 13 May 1867 at Kilcommon, Cahir, County Tipperary. He was the eldest son of John
Freer and Caroline Freer (née Abbott).
The marriage notice of his parents in the Leinster Express of 28 April 1866 reads, ‘On the 19th inst., at St. Thomas’s Church, Dublin, by the Rev. Oliver J. Tibeaudo, cousin to the bride, John G. Freer, Esq., of Ballykineen, Queen’s County, to Caroline S. Abbott, eldest daughter of G. T.
Abbott, Esq., formerly of Barnagrotty, King’s County.’
According to the 1901 census his mother was born in
County Tipperary. Her own mother, Julia Maria Abbott (née Tibeaudo), was a daughter of Joseph Oliver
Tibeaudo, of Annagh Castle, near Puckane, County Tipperary.
Although Frank Freer was born in County
Tipperary it is likely he spent a very short time there and grew up on the family farm at Ballykaneen, Clonaslee,
County Laois. The farm was later sold in 1895 and his parents moved to Timogue, Stradbally.
He entered Trinity College Dublin in 1885 and graduated on 19 December 1889 as a senior moderator, equivalent to obtaining first class honours degree of exceptional merit.
At the Irish athletics championships he won the 120
yd hurdles event in the years 1889, 1890 and 1891. He also came second in the 120 yd hurdles in 1888 and
1893, and came second in the long jump in 1891.
Frank Freer was a teacher of French and English at Foyle
College, Derry, where he directed the school games and sports. He also managed the school’s concert and
theatricals, and he revived and directed the school magazine.
After twenty years at Foyle College, Frank Freer
died during the summer holidays on 22 August 1913 at the residence of his brother-in-law in Castlecuffe,
County Laois, aged forty-six. He was survived by his wife and a young son. It was arranged by the governors of
the school with his wife that she would take boarders from the school into her home, and they provided her with
beds and furnishings, so that she would be able to make a living.
Titles Won at Senior National Championships:
(Irish Amateur Athletic Association)
1889 120 yd Hurdles 17.0
1890 120 yd Hurdles 16.6
1891 120 yd Hurdles 16.6