Muhammad Ali united with relatives for first time in ancestral home
Just copped this off the UPI. The G.O.A.T. embraces his Irish Roots.
Over 50,000 people are expected to line the streets to give the former boxing champion a welcome to his Irish roots.
A figure strongly associated with standing up for the rights of black people in the Sixties and Seventies, news of the 67 year-old's visit has lifted the town in the south-west of Ireland.
“Ennis has had rain for three months, June, July and August, it hasn’t stopped, we’ve been hit by the recession, but for the last three weeks, since the offer for him to come was taken up, it is all the townsfolk have spoken about,” Ennis Town Mayor Frankie Neylon said.
“Old and young are united in this. The older people are educating the young children about the great man, and the town is abuzz with activity. There are musical bands preparing, memorabilia is coming out, it is thrilling for everyone.”
Ali’s great-grandfather Abe Grady was born and raised in Ennis before he emigrated to America in 1860, where he married an African-American woman. Ali’s mother, Odessa Lee Grady, was his granddaughter. Abe Grady’s father, John, rented a house and garden in Ennis for 15 shillings a year in 1855.
Only 23,000 live in Ennis, but according to Neylon, a solid fuel merchant as well as Mayor, that will double as thousands flock there on Tuesday morning from Belfast, Donegal and Wexford, many of them Gradys and O’Gradys, when Ali flies in to Shannon Airport from Dublin. “The place is alight with the talk of his visit. I’ve not known the like,” said Neylon.
All roads in Ennis Town are to be closed for the afternoon, and after a civic reception, a motorcade will take Ali through the town, up the Mill Road to the Turnpike, site of the ancestral home of Abe Grady.
The chief of the Grady clan is coming in from London, and three ladies related to Ali, Mary O'Dunovan, Imelda Grady, and Mary Grady Gormley, who all live in Ennis, will meet him. One of the three lives in a Grady family house in the same road his great great grandfather came from.
Ali’s geneology was uncovered in a documentary in 2002 by two Irish television producers.
Ali has never visited the town, although he was invited to do so when his lineage was unearthed. The three-time former world heavyweight champion, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1984, has been in Ireland only four times in his life, the last time in 2003, at the Special Olympics.
On Tuesday evening, Ali will attend a private dinner with selected guests at Dromoland Castle, four miles from Ennis.
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