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Michael Tierney still part of Ennis’ folklore

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Few individuals really caught hold of the public heart like the great Michael Tierney did.

Michael is ingrained in the history and folklore of Ennis as much as any man worth their mirth, down through the ages.

Outwardly flamboyant and unapologetic, Michael flaunted his homosexuality in a time of great suppression in Ireland. Michael was certainly a man before his time, an honest beaming light that was truly at peace with his own sense of individuality.

Unfortunately, there are very few videos of Michael in his element making his way around town. One YouTube clip taken on the 17th July 1989, shows Michael on his customary paper round down through O’Connell Street, laughing and joking with locals on his way.

Michael was a standout figure amongst the masses, unmistakable with his make-up, flashy jewellery and large collection of wigs. He wore a different colour wig each day of the week. The people of Clare had a soft spot for Michael Tierney, with hundreds making their way into Ennis from the surrounding countryside to purchase newspapers from him and only him.

Michael was born in 1917 and lost his father to the First World War before he was born. Michael’s increased femininity became apparent from the 1950’s onwards at a time when homosexuality was forced to steer clear of the watchful eye of the public.

In spite of this, Michael was wholeheartedly accepted by the people of Clare. Teenage taunts and homophobic gestures were shielded from Michael by the business community of Ennis. Michael thwarted these harmful efforts through his amazing sense of humour and indifference.

He was renowned for taking people on mystery tours around Ennis and held great compassion for the elderly community of Clare.

Michael passed away in 1998 with one of the largest funerals ever seen in the town of Ennis.

A collective effort amongst individuals in Ennis hoped to erect a statue in the town of Michael and his dog, Paddy. The motion was rejected by Clare councillors.

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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