GAA President Jarlath Burns today (Saturday) paid a glowing tribute to Dr. Mickey Loftus when he unveiled a bust in his memory in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo.

Mr. Burns told a large crowd that he had been inspired to seek the highest office in the GAA because of his admiration for Dr. Mickey, one of his predecessors.

“Dr. Mickey was inspirational, he had a massive impact on me as a person”, Mr. Burns told a large crowd who gathered for the unveiling in Crossmolina town centre.

Dr. Loftus, who passed away in April of last year aged 93, served a three year term (1985 to 1988) as President of the GAA.

Armagh born Mr. Burns, speaking in Irish and English, recalled being present as a youth delegate when Dr. Mickey gave an uplifting speech at the 1988 GAA Congress in Bundoran.

“I remember his wonderfully simple but inspiring speech that day”, he said.

“I remember looking up and saying some day I would love to be holding that position (GAA President).

“Mick Loftus was the initial person who inspired me to one day follow in his footsteps.

“It is an incredible and amazing moment for me that 40 years later from that occasion I am here to unveil a statue (in his honour) as president of the GAA.

Mr. Burns recalled that Dr. Mickey, as GAA President, outraged by the killing of GAA player Aidan McAnespie in 1988, attended the funeral.

He explained: “In the north at the time we felt very much isolated and on our own.

“To see the President of the GAA there meant he was part of something we were all a part of…that the GAA was part of our cloak, our refuge, a place where we could all cling”.

Mr. Burns also lauded Dr, Mickey for his work as part of the GAA Centenary Committee in 1984 in a major drive to improve club pitches and facilities.

“His legacy is a most magnificent Croke Park”, he continued.

Dr. Loftus’s campaign against the sponsorship by alcohol drinks companies of Gaelic games was also highlighted by the GAA President.

He explained: “In his life as a GP and a coroner he could see what damage alcohol was doing.

“He begged the GAA not to become involved in alcohol sponsorship and when they went against him the honourable man of principle never again went to Croke Park for All-Ireland finals”.

Mr. Burns said he had been inspired by Dr. Mickey to adopt a similar stance against sponsorship of GAA matches by alcohol companies.

“It took until 2017 before the GAA finally realised that having alcohol sponsorship was a bad idea”, he noted.

Dr. Loftus’s daughter, Orla, said the Loftus family was deeply indebted to Crossmolina Community Council, for the initiative in having the sculpture, by artists Tim Morris and Mark Rode, commissioned.

She said her dad had built his life on pillars of family, community service, advocacy, health and sport.

Signalling the family is pleased by the completed sculpture, she stated: “I was blown away by how meticulously they have captured the essence of dad in their work.

“He (sculpture) has gravitas and he has that lovely, gentle, kind, face what we always remember. It’s wonderful that such a lasting legacy has been created”.

Former GAA President Nicky Brennan, a friend of Dr. Loftus, was amongst the large attendance which also included a number of public representatives and representatives of provincial and local GAA.

Following the unveiling, the sculpture was blessed by local parish priest, Fr. Francis Judge.

(pic Crossmolina Deel Rovers GAA)


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