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Outpouring of grief at passing of Clare Special Olympics Champion

WARM tributes have been made to an East Clare native whose charm and generosity touched all who knew her, and whose sporting abilities earned her a medal at the Special Olympics World Games last year.

Mairéad Moroney of Gort Road, Ennis, and formerly of Kealderra, O’Callaghan’s Mills, passed away earlier this month, just a few weeks before her 71st birthday. A champion golfer, Mairéad made history last year, as the oldest contestant – and medal winner – at the World Games in Abu Dhabi. Along with her playing partner Jean Molony, she took picked up silver medals in the Level 2 Alternate Shot Team Play in March of last year.

Despite the fact that she had only a few years of play under her belt, Mairéad earned a place on Team Ireland, and was unfazed when she discovered she was the oldest of an estimated 7,500 global competitors. She and Jean were among four high-achieving athletes honoured with a Civic Reception by Clare County Council last May.

Offering his condolences online, Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland said: “We were all so proud of Mairéad and her achievements as a valued member of Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi just over one year ago. Mairéad warmed all our hearts with her bravery and determination.”

Mairéad had been a visitor to the National School in her native O’Callaghan’s Mills, prompting Principal Sharon Brady to extend sympathies on behalf of the teachers and pupils. “Mairead visited us this time last with her Olympic  medal, showed us some of her golfing skills and answered lots of questions,” she wrote. “It was a very special day for all the children. We remember her fondly.”

Paying tribute, Councillor Mary Howard described Mairéad as an extraordinary talent and an inspiration to those who knew her.

“My heart goes out to Mairéad’s family and all who knew and loved her,” Councillor Howard told The Champion. “It’s an especially sad and upsetting time when condolences can’t be given in person. My thoughts are also with Jean Molony. After the time she and Mairéad would have spent shoulder-to-shoulder training, travelling and playing together, that must leave a void in her life.

“Mairéad was so lovely and so positive. She was a gentle person, but with a real grit and steel that helped her to achieve so much. She had a real ‘can do’ attitude and age was certainly no barrier to her achievements. She wasn’t at all bothered to find out she was the oldest of the Special Olympians last year and it certainly didn’t stand in the way of her abilities.”

Mairéad passed away peacefully at the home of her sister Máire. She was predeceased by her brother Joe, and is survived by her brothers Fr Martin, Liam and her sister Máire; sisters-in-law Carmel and Pauline; brother-in-law Tomás; nieces, nephews, relatives and many friends in the Brothers of Charity Ennis.

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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