Tipperary Olympians - Auston Rotheram - OLYMPICS: 1908 SPORT: POLO

Auston Rotheram was born on 11 JUN, 1876 at Sallymount House, close to the village of Fore [near Castlepollard], Co. Westmeath – where his parents lived before his father inherited the main Rotheram family house at Crossdrum House, Oldcastle, Co. Meath in 1881.

Auston Rotheram was born on 11 JUN, 1876 at Sallymount House, close to the village of Fore [near Castlepollard], Co. Westmeath – where his parents lived before his father inherited the main Rotheram family house at Crossdrum House, Oldcastle, Co. Meath in 1881.

Auston Rotheram’s mother Maria Louisa Cooper [b. 1837] was from Killenure Castle, Knockavilla, on the Cashel to Dundrum road, in Co. Tipperary. Killenure Castle once belonged to the O’Dwyer’s who built it in the late 16th century, until it was burned with, it is believed, some of it’s occupants by Oliver Cromwell’s troops probably in March, 1650. The burnt-out castle changed hands a few times before the Cooper’s purchased the ruin and a modest thatched house beside it in 1746. Much extended since then the house has remained the Cooper family home until it was sold 217 years later in 1963. Maria Louisa Cooper’s mother was one of the Long family from Longfield House, near Boherlahan and when she married in 1829 the local Ardmayle Church was under repair so she got married in the drawing room of Longfield House.

Maria Louisa Cooper got married to Edward Rotheram on 12 SEP, 1866 and they had four sons and two daughters. Auston Rotheram was their third son – and attended school at Cheltenham College and the Royal Military College, in Sandhurst, England. He joined the British Army in 1896 and spent the next three years based in India where one of his regimental colleagues was Winston Churchill, and they played together in the regimental polo team, although Auston was not a member of the team captained by Churchill that won the All-India Tournament in 1899. One remarkable story about Auston Rotheram in India was when he was on a tiger hunt and from up a tree he shot and wounded a tiger. Next, the tiger climbed 14 feet up the tree Auston Rotheram was in and caught him by the hand. Fortunately for Auston the tiger was promptly shot by his friend Albert Savory.

Auston returned to Ireland in 1902 – and played polo for Ireland in the Patriotic Cup against England every year from 1903 to 1908. The Patriotic Cup is an annual polo match between Ireland and England and was first held in 1903. For the first number of years Ireland’s first and only victory was in 1905 when Ireland beat England 5-4 at Phoenix Park. A polo team has four players and the other three Irish players in the win over England were, Samuel Watt [Derry], Charles O’Hara [Sligo] and Percy O’Reilly [Westmeath]. Auston Rotheram also played polo for Ireland at the 1908 Olympic Games in London where just three polo teams took part, two British teams and an Irish team. The two British teams played each other in the first round and the winner played against Ireland in the final. The Irish team comprised of Auston Rotheram, John McCann [Dublin], Hardress Lloyd [Offaly] and Percy O’Reilly [Westmeath], and they were defeated by Great Britain 8-1 in the final - for the gold medals – with both the second British team and the Irish team getting the silver medals. Auston Rotheram married Violet Ede on 12 APR, 1913 in Hong Kong, where her father was a businessman. They lived at Castlecor, Oldcastle, Co. Meath – where they had seven sons, two of whom were killed serving in the RAF, and a daughter. Auston Rotheram served in France during World War I and left the Army as a Major in 1920. The family left Ireland in 1929 and moved to Gloucester Road, Cheltenham where Auston died on 13 NOV, 1946 – age 70, and was cremated at Cheltenham Cemetery.