If you happen to drive through the picturesque coastal
village of Glenarm on the 13th or 14th of July you may
find one or two other visitors there too
- around forty thousand of them to be exact!
The Clash of the Celtic Giants has quickly
grown into one of the biggest crowd pullers of the year,
comparable with the North West 200 or even the Balmoral
Show. Some 40,000 people arrived in 2004 , transforming
the normally sleepy north Antrim village of Glenarm into
a thriving bustling town.
Bruce Aitken - World Light
The Clash of the Celtic Giants started
in 1999 as a simple idea to stage a Highland Games
competition in Northern Ireland. It began with
a phone call between independent TV Producer David
Malone of 'Extreme Production' and the tweed-clad Estate
Manager of Glenarm Castle, Adrian Morrow. Back in 1999,
Mr Morrow’s boss, Lord Antrim, was very keen
to bring the World Grand Prix Series Highland Games
to Glenarm over the two days in the year when the castle
would open its gates to the general public. TV Producer
Malone shared in that enthusiasm and so did BBC Northern
Ireland Television and, despite the fact that Highland
Games were not exactly commonplace in Northern Ireland,
The Clash of the Celtic Giants was
Today it is a must-see event on the summer calendar.
Some folks go to see the toughest athletes in
the world battle it out in the arena, but for
others it's just a fantastic family day out."
Gregor Edmunds - Reigning Champion
It was to be a case of
the jolly keen giants at the World Highland Games as
Scottish champion, Gregor Edmunds,
defended his title from Dutch giant and big crowd favourite
Wout Zijlstra, who promised to give Gregor a run for
his money in events such as Tossing The Caber and
Throwing The Hammer.
Wout entertained the spectators
with his wonderful grunts and
shouts as he did his stuff and he frequently called
that one Gregor!"
quieter Gregor however told the cameras "What
Wout needs is a good hiding".
Wout Zijlstra - a big character
It went on to provide an intense and hugely enjoyable spectacle
as the battle for 1st place progressed. Gregor Edmunds did
manage to retain his
2004 but only just, with Bruce Aitken, (pictured above) only
half a point behind him!
2004 was the second year that both men and women flexed their
muscles as the event combined both the World Highland
Games and Europe’s Strongest Woman.
Trish Porter from Maghera
wants to be in top 3
Florczyk, from Poland, current world No.1
Amongst the many female athletes featuring in Europe’s
Strongest Woman was Northern Ireland’s Trish Porter,
from Maghera, Trish has been the UK’s strongest woman
twice, in 2002 and 2003. Originally from Wexford, Trish is
married to her trainer, Philip, and has three children. When
not pumping iron and pulling trucks, she works as a restaurant
manageress and door supervisor.
Trish’s ambition is to be one of the three strongest women in the world.
In pursuit of that goal Trish clashed with the World’s
Strongest Woman, Aneta Florczyk, from Poland. Aneta, who
came fourth in the 2003 event, had her sights
firmly set on winning this year’s title, which she did.
|The Pole Push was a new women's game in 2004 and proved
very popular with the crowds and athletes alike. Here,
from left to right, we see strongwoman Ielja Strik from
Holland try to push equally powerful Heini Koivuniemi
of Finland out of the white
circle. The Fin eventually toppled Ielja.
|Presenter Christine Bleakley and cameraman Mick O'Rourke interviewing
lady Athlete Jo Cutts of England.
In 2004 as always before, BBC NI TV brought full coverage of the
two-day event, as well as providing profiles on each of the contestants. The
programmes were presented
Christine Bleakley and Stephen Watson
Christine Bleakley said: “This was my third year of
presenting the show and every year it just gets better. It’s
a really good family day out. "
It’s a huge spectacle, particularly the women’s events, when they
lift cars and mighty trucks. The pure strength of those women never fails to
amaze me, it’s such a human feat. And, of course, the kids love it.”
Stephen Watson said: I'm really delighted to have returned to Glenarm for
the Clash of the Celtic Giants. It’s a fantastic event. I thoroughly
commentating on the games, which are full of fantastic characters and the welcome
we receive in the Glens is second to none."
As well as boasting both the World Highland Games and Europe’s Strongest
Woman events, the two-day event also features helicopter rides, motorcross
teams, the Ulster Folk Orchestra, silver bands and pipe bands, a sheep shearing
competition, falconry displays, a children’s funfair, arts and crafts
and a food hall.
But, above all else, it’s the show of strength of the contestants that
makes the muscle-bound Clash Of The Celtic Giants such powerful viewing.
The final 2004 placings were:
1st - Gregor Edmunds - Scotland
2nd - Bruce Aitken - Scotland
3rd - Doug MacDonald - Canada
|Europe's Strongest Woman
1st - Aneta Florczyk - Poland
2nd - Anna Rosen - Sweden
3rd - Heini Koiuniemi - Finland
Clash of the Celtic Giants is an Extreme
Production for the BBC