The O’Neill clan were out in force in Killenard on Saturday, with Liam’s three brothers and eight sisters all there for the historic occasion, along with his wife Aine, daughters Cliodhna and Caoimhe and son Ciaran, as well as extended relations proud of their new President.
Ciaran O’Neill summed it up. “We are absolutely delighted and really proud of him, and of course looking forward to the next three years”
What does it mean to the family though, to see him take office? “Well, we have been watching him answering GAA phone calls now for about 25 years, we are well used to his involvement and it is just a progression.
“It is great to see him elevated to be President today as it is something that he has been working for, for a long, long time and we are all just delighted for him.”
The only absentees from the special day were Liam’s parents, and particular his mother, who passed away just last summer after he had become President-elect. “Well she would have seen him then and rejoiced with him on his election” says Ciaran. “His mother was a strong character, a very strong character and she was proud of all her family and their individual achievements, and she had a long and fulfilled life because of them.”
“His dad was an out-and-out GAA man and he would have been over the moon for his son today. He died in 1993 and he was a real GAA man and, of course, had contested the Chairman of the Leinster Council in 1948 and like Liam was a teacher and school principal and he too spent his whole life working for his local community and it is great to have that continuity there.”
Major celebrations then were in order for the whole family. “Yeah, it is something like moving a rock festival around sometimes. There are 12 in Dad’s family and something like 37 cousins just on the O’Neill side, so it is an enormous family and each one has their own strong personalities as well. I think that we are all looking forward to his three years and being there for him and enjoying it with him.”
See this week’s Leinster Express for a 20 page souvenir supplement marking Liam O’Neill’s appointment as GAA President