Muhammad Ali’s ancestral town of Ennis was represented at his funeral in Louisville, Kentucky, USA at the weekend.
Outoing Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Pat Daly and and Interim Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Gerard Dollard attended the memorial service on behalf of Co Clare.
During his visit to the Clare County Capital in September 2009, Muhammad Ali was named the first Honorary Freeman of Ennis in recognition of his career achievements and his ancestral links with the Clare County Capital. More than 30,000 people filled the streets of the town during the visit.
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 initially given his father’s name on his birth in 1942.
During Friday’s memorial service, Mr. Dollard and Councillor Daly met with Lonnie Ali, wife of the late Muhammad Ali, to express their condolences on behalf of the people of Ennis and County Clare.
Councillor Daly and Mr. Dollard will visited the Muhammad Ali Centre in Louisville on Saturday and returned to Ireland on Sunday.
More than 1,000 members of the public have signed Books of Condolences opened in memory of Mr. Ali at Áras Contae an Chláir. The Books will be sent to Mr. Ali’s family in Kentucky next week.
Approximately €2700 was spent on flights and accommodation to ensure Ennis was represented at the memorial service. An unavoidable lateness in the booking of the flights resulted in a fee of €2038. The visit was funded from the Council’s overall budget from civic events.
Interim Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Gerard Dollard told The Clare Herald that it was integral Ennis was represented at the event and Ali’s family appreciated their presence.
“Considering Muhammad Ali was named the first Honorary Freeman of Ennis in 2009 and in recognition of his worldwide renown and ancestral links with the town, Clare County Council regarded it essential that the town of Ennis be represented at the funeral service. The Ali Centre and family contacted the Council to confirm that accredited seating for the funeral service had been allocated to the Mayor and I, and that they were very appreciative of our presence in Louisville.”