Michael McTigue, Mayor Clare Colleran Molloy, Nicholas Rynne, Kevin Rynne, Pat and Antoniette McCormack and Kevin Keane. Photograph: Natasha Barton
A WORLD CHAMPION boxer from Kilnamona deserves to have a bridge in Ennis renamed after him.
Following unanimous approval by members of the Ennis Municipal District, a public consultation period is to be initiated on the renaming of Victoria Bridge on Cusack Rd to The Mike McTigue Bridge.
Born in Lickaun, Kilnamona in 1892, McTigue emigrated to the United States of America in 1912, travelling as a passenger on the British steamer Baltic. For thirteen years, he fought in America and by 1923 he got a title fight for the World Light Heavyweight Championship. Civil War was ongoing in Ireland at the time of the St Patrick’s Night fight in La Scala Opera House on Prince’s Street, Dublin. He defeated the then recently crowned champion Battling Siki from Senegal on points after a whopping twenty rounds.
He would defend his title against future Hall of Famers Tommy Loughran, Young Stribling and Mickey Walker before losing the title by unanimous decision to the gold medalist wrestler-turned-boxer Paul Berlenbach in 1925.
To mark the centenary of the title fight, a memorial is to be erected of Mike at Kilnamona Cross, this coming weekend. The sculpture who designed it, Michael McTigue a relative of Mike, was present in the Council Chamber for the discussion.
Cllr Pat Daly (FF) proposed naming the bridge in honour of the world champion from 1923. McTigue has family descendants now residing at Cusack Rd.
Senior executive officer in the Ennis MD, Leonore O’Neill explained, “The process for changing a road name is provided for under Section 196 of the Local Government Act 2001”. She said once all members agreed to Daly’s proposal a public consultation period will follow with submissions facilitated. “A Report on the submissions, and a recommendation, must then be presented to Members of the Municipal District for final approval,” she added.
Importance of honouring McTigue approaching the centenary of his world-title win was underlined by Cllr Daly. He acknowledged the renaming of the bridge was at an early stage.
“When you look at Kilnamona people, they come in and out of Ennis every day of the week, they pass the bridge. James Breen claimed he sparred with Mike McTigue, he’s that bit younger, maybe it was Michael McTigue,” he quipped.
“When you think about it, a world boxing champion in 1923 is a fantastic achievement, delighted to support this proposal,” Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) stated. Cllr Mary Howard (FG) said, “As a resident of the area I got a number of phone calls initially, the public consultation is a very important process. It is important to recognise people’s achievements whether they are dead or alive”.
As the bridge was built in Queen Victorian’s era that is how it got its current name, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) told the meeting. “Mike McTigue was an amazing ambassador for the county, he was named in top ten world athletes during his era. It is very appropriate to name the bridge after him”.
His party colleague, Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) though supportive of the proposal felt they were entering new territory. “I’m curious if you are un-naming a bridge, this is new to me, we’re not unveiling a new bridge, I have a fear it isn’t as cut and dried”.
Names must be related to the people of Ireland, Cllr Ann Norton (IND) argued. “It might be no harm to see the name changed, we should have something related to the Irish people, we need to wait for public consultation and make sure the people of Ennis and surrounding areas are happy with it and then bring it back to the MD. It is a start to realise that we are a Republic and have names related to the Irish people”.
Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) acknowledged the presence of Michael McTigue in the gallery. “Certainly Mike McTigue is remembered if we can get a bridge named after him, 100 years on from winning the world title. Hopefully we can make it happen sooner rather than later”.
O’Neill advised the meeting that a resolution from the Ennis Urban District Council in 1957 saw the name changed. “On foot of this motion being passed, would involve Ennis MD going out to full public consultation to get the views of the public”. Such a process is unlikely to be completed before the summer, “it will likely be September when we come back to you on it”.