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Muhammad Ali, accompanied by his daughter Hannah, centre, and wife Lonnie leave Ennis following their visit to Turnpike road, his ancestral home. Photograph by John Kelly.

Turnpike service to remember Ali

A REMEMBRANCE service for the late Muhammad Ali will be held in his ancestral home of the Turnpike in Ennis this Friday.

The service will be held on the green of the Turnpike, where just seven years ago the greatest boxer that ever lived stood and was welcomed by the people of Ennis to the town. It will take place at 7pm close to the Muhammad Ali monument, unveiled by the man himself in September 2009.

Muhammad Ali unveils a memorial stone in Ennis at Turnpike road, his ancestral home. Photograph by John Kelly.
Muhammad Ali unveils a memorial stone in Ennis at Turnpike road, his ancestral home. Photograph by John Kelly.

Fr Ger Fitzgerald will conduct the service, which has been organised with the assistance of former councillors Frankie Neylon, mayor when Ali visited Ennis, and Michael Guilfoyle from the Turnpike.

Mr Guilfoyle explained, “We wanted to be able to do something to remember him here in the Turnpike and Ennis and Friday seemed like the ideal time, as it would coincide with the funeral. It will be an ecumenical service of remembrance, a celebration of his life.”

He added, “It was an amazing day, the day Muhammad Ali came to the Turnpike, and the fact that he came to visit his great grandfather’s birthplace is recognition that Ennis was part of his life and part of his family’s life. It was recognised by the people in the area in the support that they gave. The fact that we are doing something on Friday night shows that he is still a part of the area.”

As many as 10,000 people gathered in Ennis in 2009 for a chance to glimpse Ali when he visited.
Among the invited guests at the ceremony were representatives of families descended from Ali’s great-grandfather Abe Grady, Imelda O’Grady, Mary Grady Gormley and Mary O’Donovan Kelly.

After the invitation-only ceremony, Ali was taken to the Turnpike, where he unveiled a specially commissioned sculpture before large crowds.

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