Brendan O'Reilly

Mulranny memorial for broadcaster and athlete brendan oreilly

FORMER RTÉ sports journalist and champion athlete, the late Brendan O’Reilly, is to be honoured in Mulranny. Plans are in the pipeline to erect a memorial in the village, where he developed strong connections over a number of years.

While it was sport that first brought Brendan to national prominence, firstly in athletics and later as a commentator, it was his singing that stirred the friendships that were to grow in Mulranny. Back in 1982, his song ‘The Ballad of Michael Collins’ was at number one in the Irish charts. It inspired a local man to organise a seminar on the life of Michael Collins, which was held in the former Great Southern Hotel in Mulranny.

When approached to get involved, Brendan had just one question: would it be a political event? Assured that it wouldn’t and that the speakers would come from all parties and none, he happily came on board.

The seminars proved immensely popular and ran for six years, with Brendan attending five of them. Attracting a huge attendance from across the world, including the USA and Northern Ireland, they looked at the life, times and career of Collins. The seminars were also embraced by Collins’ family, one of his nephews bringing along treasured memorabilia on one occasion.

O’Reilly had no connection with Mulranny before this and out of his visits grew a number of friendships with local people.

It was sport that had first brought Brendan to national prominence as he set Irish records in the high jump and javelin. Despite a busy schedule, he gave of his time willingly, dropping down on one occasion to Burrishoole to present medals to the club’s Under 14 county champions.

Brendan was also to develop further links in Mayo through his love of song. A host for the National Song Contest and commentator for three Eurovision song contests, he became involved with the Castlebar Song Contest, where he enjoyed success. With the ‘official business’ out of the way, Brendan and his wife Johanna visited Mulranny on short breaks.

As a show of appreciation, a statue will be erected at a site in the centre of the village. A committee has been established, plans are in place, and the project will be brought to fruition in the near future.