A QUESTION-and-answer discussion with former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan will be the highlight at an event to mark the first anniversary of boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s visit to Ennis last year. Celebrating The Greatest – An evening with Barry McGuigan will be held at Glór in Ennis at 8pm on Wednesday, September 1.
The evening’s entertainment will commence with a half-hour video feature on the now famous 2009 visit of the three-time world heavyweight champion. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Mr McGuigan about his career.
Muhammad Ali was named the first honorary freeman of Ennis on September 1, 2009 in recognition of his career achievements and his ancestral links with the Clare County capital. More than 15,000 people watched ‘The Greatest’ receive a civic reception before embarking on a drive through the streets of Ennis and a personal visit to the ancestral home of his great-grandfather, Abe O’Grady.
To further mark the occasion, Ennis Town Council will host a community fun day at Glór, along with street entertainment throughout the town on Saturday, September 4. Free screenings of the specially produced feature on Muhammad Ali’s 2009 visit will also take place on Saturday at Glór.
Welcoming the announcement of the two events, Mayor of Ennis Councillor Tommy Brennan stressed the importance of commemorating the town’s connection with one of the greatest sporting icons of all time. “Muhammad Ali is one of the most recognisable man on earth and remains a magical figure, known and loved throughout the world. We were honoured that he accepted the council’s offer of becoming the town’s first honorary freeman, which we deemed to be thoroughly deserved in light of his unrivalled sporting achievements on the world stage and his contribution to educational and charitable causes through his global fundraising foundation,” he said.
“The public and media interest generated by Mr Ali’s visit to Ennis last year was immense and resulted in extensive, positive national and international exposure for the town. The people of Ennis and Clare are very proud of their association with Mr Ali and I have no doubt that every effort will be made to ensure that this link is celebrated for many years to come,” he added.
Muhammad Ali’s ancestor, Abe Grady, emigrated from County Clare to the United States in the 1860s. He eventually 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 their son was given his father’s name on his birth in 1942.
Events to mark the first anniversary of the visit are being organised by Ennis Town Council.
Niall O’Keeffe, acting town clerk at Ennis Town Council, explained that the Wednesday night event is by invitation only. “There are just under 400 seats for this event. Invitations are being issued this week to clubs and organisations throughout Ennis and the county. Each invite is for two tickets. People should confirm with Glór whether they’re taking the offer and any remaining tickets will be redistributed closer to the event based on a waiting list operating through Glór,” he said.
The Saturday event is open to all and the recording of last year’s visit will run throughout the afternoon.