Relatives of Muhammad Ali sign book of condolence in Ennis

The World Heavyweight Champion visited his ancestral home in 2009

BY Jack Quann 13:50 Tuesday 7 June 2016, 13:50 7 Jun 2016

Pictured at the signing of a book of condolence for Muhammad Ali at Áras Contae an Chláir in Ennis today (l-r) Cllr. Pat Daly, Imelda O’Grady (distant relative of Ali) and Cllr Mary Howard

Relatives of Muhammad Ali have gathered in Ennis to pay tribute to the boxing legend, and officially open a book of condolence.

The Honorary Freeman of Ennis passed away on Friday night.

Members of the public are invited to sign the book, which will remain open until 5.00pm on Friday June 10th during standard office opening hours.

During a visit to Ennis in September 2009, Ali was named first Honorary Freeman of the town in recognition of his career achievements and his ancestral links with Co Clare.

Ali’s ancestor, Abe Grady, emigrated from 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 was Ali's mother, Odessa Lee Grady.

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

Among the first people to sign the book of condolence were Imelda O’Grady and Mary O’Donovan - distant relatives of the former Heavyweight Champion.

Pictured at the signing of a book of condolence for Muhammad Ali at Áras Contae an Chláir in Ennis today (l-r) Cllr. Mary Howard, Imelda O’Grady (distant relative of Ali) and Frankie Neylon (Mayor of Ennis when Ali visited the town in 2009)

Also present were the Mayor of Ennis Councillor Pat Daly, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Councillor Mary Howard, and Frankie Neylon – who was the Mayor of Ennis when Ali visited in 2009.

Mayor Daly said Muhammad Ali was "one of the most recognisable men on earth and remained a magical figure, known and loved throughout the world throughout his life".

"The people of Ennis and County Clare are very proud of their association with Mr Ali and his passing will be particularly felt in Ennis where his visit seven years ago marked one of the greatest days in the town's history with 30,000 people lining the streets”.

"We were honoured that he accepted Ennis Town Council’s offer of becoming the town’s first Honorary Freeman in recognition of his unrivalled sporting achievements on the world stage, and his contribution to educational and charitable causes through his global fundraising foundation," he added.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that US actor Will Smith and British boxer Lennox Lewis are to carry Ali's coffin at his funeral on Friday.

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