I've always thought there was something Irish about Muhammad Ali. Perhaps it was the way he talked that verbal exuberance and earthy wit, combined with rootsy toughness. Now in a global exclusive with massive implications for Irish sporting history, the Irish Post has found proof that the boxing legend is indeed an Irishman.
"Staff at the Clare Heritage Centre at Corofin have discovered that the three-times world boxing champion's great grandfather was Abe Grady — who was horn in the town of Ennis in the 1840s," the paper reveals. "According to genealogist Antoinette O'Brien the legendary boxer's great grandfather hailed from the Turnpike area of Ennis and emigrated to America in the 1860s from Cappa Harbour, near Kilrush in west Clare."
Some time after arriving in the US. Mr Grady married an African-American woman. Their son also married an African-American and one of the couple's children was Ali's mother Odessa Lee Grady.
I understand that staff at Clare Heritage Centre are now carefully scrutinising the family trees of Jesse Owens, Olga Korbut and Mark Spitz.
A WARM round of applause for the publisher Gracewing, which next month reissues the delightful letters of Albino Luciani, better known as Pope John Paul I. The "smiling pope" wrote these letters to the great and good of world history whilst he was Patriarch of Venice. The illustrious recipients include G K Chesterton, King David, Hippocrates, Sr Luke and Goethe.
"Whether he is discussing the pangs of adolescence with Pinocchio, pornography with Sir Walter Scott, capitalism with Marconi or miniskirts with Empress Maria Theresa, he manages to be both edifying and amusing," says the appetitewhetting blurb, to Ellustrissimi. The book includes a preface by our own late
beloved Cardinal Basil Hume. He writes: "Albino Luciano ... is revealed in this book as a man rooted in the Gospel, but with his feet firmly on 20th century ground and with his eves twinkling as he calmly surveys the contemporary, ,tempestuous, troubled world, smiling at its absurdities, regretting its evil, rejoicing in its good."
SOME readers may be unaware that Patrick Reyntiens, the Herald's trenchant fine art critic (see page over), is himself an artist of international repute. The Old Master tells me, in his distinctive erudite manner, that he will be selling some of his works at the end of this month at the aptly named Affordable Art Fair. The fair, which boasts a wide array of contemporary artworks priced under £2,500, will this year include 14 Stations of the Cross by the Herald's artist in residence. Be ready to
make a beeline for stall B4 when the sale opens at Battersea Park on February 28. It runs until March 3.
A BISHOP in the Italian town of Terni, where St Valentine lived and worked, has been instructing his parishioners not to turn the saint's feast day into a empty sentimental fest. The people of Terni had no doubt heard the message before. But this year there was perhaps more to digest than they had expected.
Bishop Vincenzo Paglia said: "Valentine's love is more like salt than chocolate. Salt, as you know, not only preserves food but gives it taste. And salt does not exist for itself; it exists to give flavour" I don't expect that went down well with Terni's purveyors of fine chocolates.