Photo: Robert Lightbody throws the Celtic Heavy Stone during the Championships

Palm Beach Post

WEST PALM BEACH —March 18th, 2013

For hundreds of green-clad celebrants, it was an opportunity to enjoy some beer, corned beef and cabbage and Irish music.Clematis Street turned into a block party as a crowd gathered to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at O’Shea’s Pub’s “Paddy Fest” event.As a live band played and dancers performed an Irish jig, some celebrated the festivities by putting their strength to the test.

This year’s Paddy Fest included a Celtic heavy stone throw with four competitors taking turns seeing who could throw a 110-pound stone the farthest.“It’s a lot easier lifting 16 ounces, I can tell you that,” joked competitor Robert Lightbody, 53, who was visiting from the Bahamas. Lightbody settled for a fourth-place finish after making two tosses that totaled 12 feet, 6 inches.

Lightbody said he decided to take a shot at the stone throw because “it just sounded like fun.”“That thing is heavy,” Lightbody marveled afterward. ” It’s not just like shot-putting something.”

The eventual winner was dressed not in green but in blue. West Palm Beach Police officer Eric Evrley won the first-place medal with two throws that totaled 20 feet, 7 inches. Evrley edged out his fellow officer Matthew Cuffaro.Evrley said that he and Cuffaro joined the competition in an effort to help generate more interest. While some competitors attempted to gain momentum with a running start, Evrley opted to go with sheer strength.

“I watched other people, they were they were doing the running thing,” Evrly said. “To me, it seems like it wasted all their energy running to throw it. It’s too heavy to really go anywhere with that little speed, so you probably really want to just stand there and use all your muscle and heave it forward.”

Event organizer Cindy Morrison, a retired power lifter and the first woman to compete against men in the 1994 Highland Games in Scotland, said the Celtic stone throw is a tradition that goes back in recorded history about 1,500 years.

“Stones have been a major part of Irish and Celtic history,” Morrison said. “They would sometimes have a competition where, if they could throw a stone farther than the lord of the manor, then they could stay the night and get fed dinner.”

Competitor Greg Stetz, 33, of Port St. Lucie, said that and his wife, Jenna, who was adorned with a green wig, made the trip down primarily to enjoy the St. Patrick’s festivities..“(It’s about) the camaraderie and everybody coming together and sharing a few pints, good times, good music,” Lightbody said. “That’s why we’re here, right?


110 lb. Celtic Stone Throw

MEN :       12.0  feet

WOMEN :      5.6  feet