Aug 18, 2009

The Real Fighting Irish:

Muhammad Ali is a Clare Man!

First we declared President Barack Obama as our own, then Vice President Joe Biden, and now we're claiming one of 'The Greatest' of them all–Muhammad Ali. (The formula's not that complicated, really: if you're any way half-decent, you must be half-Irish!)
The former world heavyweight champion, now 67 and fighting Parkinson's disease, will visit my hometown–Ennis in Co. Clare–in early September, to retrace the steps of his great-grandfather, Abe Grady, who emigrated from his home on the Turnpike Road in Ennis to the United States in the 1860s. A Civic Reception, the highest honor that a Local Authority can give, will mark the occasion (along with live music and much rooting around in family closets for million dollar babies), and Ali will be named the county's first Honorary Freeman–a title that will no doubt gain him free entry into The Queen's disco on a Saturday night.
Ali’s great-grandfather sailed from Cappa Harbour in Kilrush, County Clare, shortly after the Great Famine, and settled in Kentucky, where he married an African-American woman. Their son also married an African-American and one of the daughters of that union was Ali's mother, named Odessa Lee Grady. She married Cassius Clay, senior, and they settled in Louisville, where Cassius Clay, junior, was born in 1942. He later changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to the Nation of Islam after winning the world title in 1964. Now, my cousin Cassius is a member of the Nation of Clare.
Hmmn, I wonder if I have enough time to design, produce, and sell a batch of "The Boxing Bannerman" t-shirts to mark the big day/man...

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