Muhammad Ali arrives for Croke Park fight 1972 Ireland VIEW SOURCE
The magical moment when Ali came 'home' to Ennis Ireland VIEW SOURCE
Place of migration
Migrated to/Born in USA

Abe Grady is a great-grandfather of three-time heavyweight world champion Muhammad Ali. [IMAGE: Muhammad Ali arriving at Dublin Airport in 1972. Photograph: Kevin McMahon/The Irish Times]

  • In 1855, at the time of Griffith's Valuation, Abe's father, John Grady (1818-?) was recorded as the tenant of a house in Turnpike Road in Ennis. 

  • Abe's father is likely to have come from the village of Crusheen

In the 1860s, he left Ennis for America. He settled in Kentucky, where he married a free African-American woman (daughter of Tom Morehead) from Duck Lick Creek, Logan. Her parents were both freed slaves, originally from Liberia, who went by the name, Morehead (the name of white slave owners of the area). 

  • Their first-born son, John Lee Grady (b. 1887) was named after Abe's father in Ennis.

Circa 1914, John Lee Grady (b.1897) married Birdie Morehead (b.1893) and had two children.  

  • Their daughter, Odessa Lee Grady (1917-1994), married Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. (1914-1990) a commercial artist from Louisville (who was named after a famous Kentucky abolitionist).

On January 17, 1942, Odessa 'Mama Bird' Grady gave birth to Cassius Clay Jr. (In 1962 he changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam).

In 1972, Muhammad Ali received a warm welcome when he visited Ireland for the first time (on the invitation of then Taoiseach Jack Lynch). 

On 1 September 2009, Ali paid a visit to Ennis to become the first freeman of the town in its 150,000-year existence. There, he also unveiled a plaque outside his great-grandfather’s house and met with hundreds of extended family members.

In 2016, a remembrance service for the late Muhammad Ali was held in his ancestral home of the Turnpike in Ennis.


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Additional Information
Date of Birth 1st Jan 1842 (circa)
Date of Death 19th Jun 2020
Associated Building (s) Turnpike ENNIS  

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