Man of steel Mick Mackey to be immortalised in bronze

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Mick Mackey's son Greg on Castle Street Castleconnell this week
THE county council may already have named a roundabout after him but plans are now afoot to immortalise Limerick’s greatest ever sportsman in his native place of Castleconnell.

THE county council may already have named a roundabout after him but plans are now afoot to immortalise Limerick’s greatest ever sportsman in his native place of Castleconnell.

Ahane GAA has lodged plans to erect a bronze statue to Mick Mackey on Castle Street.

Many believe the sculpture of the hurler and rugby player outside the AIB on Limerick’s O’Connell Street to be Mick Mackey and Tom Clifford but Ahane GAA chairman Turlough Herbert understands the piece to be “generic in nature”. Certainly the hurler bears little physical resemblance to the Castleconnell giant who won three All-Ireland championships and is regarded as one of the game’s all-time greats.

As well as the roundabout, Ahane GAA play at Mackey Park and Limerick GAA has named the Mackey Stand in honour of its greatest ever hurler.

A commemorative committee is now working with Ahane GAA on a statue to be erected on a stone plinth in the heart of Castleconnell village and they have already identified a sculptor to cast Mackey in bronze should the project get the go-ahead from the planners.

“Mick Mackey was born in 1912 so the project really emerged from the fact that the centenary of his birth was last year. We have unveiled a plaque in his memory but it was decided it would be appropriate to do something more. We see this as a contribution from the club to the village of Castleconnell where Mick Mackey was born and raised. And really he is the most famous personality that springs to mind when you think of Castleconnell,” explained Mr Herbert. He hoped the project would have social, cultural and economic benefits for the village.

A statue of Jackie Power already stands in Annacotty and he was one of many greats to line out alongside Mick Mackey for club and county.

“A lot of people hold the opinion that Mick Mackey was only one of a great team that was there at the time and I would acknowledge that,” Mr Herbert said.

“Not only was there Mick’s brother John and Jackie Power but players like Timmy Ryan, Paddy Scanlon and Paddy Kelly among others who were outstanding players.”

“But Mick Mackey was also a hugely charismatic figure who hurled with a smile on his face. The Mackeys were tough people in the best sense of the word. The harder it got, the more they liked it and the world as we know it today simply doesn’t produce people like that any more.”

Christy Ring, Mr Herbert noted, had two statues – one in Cork Airport and one in Cloyne – erected in his honour as well as a stadium named after him. It was therefore fitting that Mackey should be commemorated in his birthplace.

Mr Herbert said that no less an authority than Micheal O’Hehir had “stated that in his opinion Mick Mackey was the best player he had ever seen”.

A decision on the planning application is due to be made by Limerick County Council next week. Should it get the go-ahead, it is intended to invite members of the Mackey family to the unveiling.