Galway sporting communities are mourning the loss of Micheal (Mick ) Grealish, a much-loved and respected sports personality who passed away last week.
An institution in rugby and rowing circles, Mick was much admired for his indefatigable dedication, good humour, and generosity. He was the genuine article - hardworking and humorous, enthusiatsic and committed - a man to whom so many people were drawn due to his warmth and spirit.
Mick had a long association with Our Lady's Boys' Club, first joining when he was 11 and starting rugby when it was introduced. It would be the beginning of a life-long love for the game. He captained the Wanderers' Cup winning team in the 60s, and the League and Junior Cup double in 1970/71, and continued to support the club as president on two occasions, in 1975/76, and 2004/05 for the club’s 50th anniversary, while he also coached the Junior Cup winning team in 1987.
He was similarly involved with Galway Rowing Club, of which he was vice captain and captain - the year the club won the men's senior eights. Typical of Mick, he always gave 100 per cent, and was involved in fundraising for the clubhouse building.
His love of rugby and dedication to sport continued until his passing - as a player, coach to underage and junior teams, and mentor for some 50 years. A most popular former Connacht Branch president, he was awarded the Mr Boots Award in 2013/14 by the Irish Rugby Football Union for his contribution to junior rugby.
However, it was not just what Mick did in life, but who he was. Down to earth, kind and generous of spirit, a gentleman. No job would be too big or small for Mick - he could be found spreading hay on the Sportsground pitch one day during a winter freeze and, as a former ESB man with a long association with the Aran Islands, fixing the lights on another day. He was a friend and father figure to many young Connacht players, and there was always a smile and time for a chat when meeting.
Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane says Mick defined everything that was good about the people of Connacht.
"It’s hard to fully state the size of the impact he has made on the organisation, whether it be as an active player and coach, or official and administrator.
“What struck me most about Mick was his humility and his genuine wish to help people – particularly young people – no matter what the ask was. His sad passing will be felt by so many people, which in itself is a testament to what he achieved through his lifetime of volunteerism.”
There are so many places that will not be the same without him. As a past chairman of Connacht's stadium and grounds committee, the Galway Sportsground is certainly one.
Mick is survived by his wife Maureen, children Keith, Eleanor and Mickey and their families, sisters and brother, nephews and nieces, and extended family.
Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam