Clare council to send birthday greetings to Ali

MUHAMMAD Ali’s Irish ancestral home of Ennis is not forgetting the boxing legend as he approaches his 70th birthday.

The members of Ennis Town Council have agreed to a proposal by Cllr Frankie Neylon (Ind) that they send a birthday card to Ali ahead of his birthday celebrations next Tuesday.

Cllr Neylon was Ennis’s mayor when he greeted the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion during his historic visit to Ennis in September 2009.

Cllr Neylon said: “It is a little token from the council.”

During Ali’s 2009 visit, the boxing legend became the first person to be conferred with the Honorary Freeman of Ennis.

Ali thrilled locals in the Turnpike area of Ennis, emerging from his car to go on a walkabout near his ancestral home from where his great-grandfather left in the 1860s.

Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) said: “I know we can’t make any commercial gain from our links with Muhammad Ali, but his family told us that the welcome he received here was of more importance to him than the medal he received in the Olympics. We should be marketing that welcome.”

Cllr Paul O’Shea (Lab) said Ali should be the first person to receive a proposed Clare passport which would provide discounts to the holder should he return to Ennis.

Ali’s great-grandfather Abe Grady emigrated from Co 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, Odessa Lee Grady.

She married Cassius Clay Sr, and they settled in Louisville, where their son was initially given his father’s name on his birth in 1942.

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