Death of former GAA president Joe McDonagh, GAA President from 1997 to 2000

GAA Joe McDonagh death West is Awake
April 1988; Joe McDonagh, Galway. Hurling. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE.

Former GAA president  and Galway All-Ireland hurling champion Joe McDonagh has died aged 62.

His death, after an illness, was confirmed at the week-end by the GAA. His funeral is tomorrow 24 May. Scroll down for more funeral details.

Mr McDonagh, an Irish speaker from County Galway, was president of the association between 1997 to 2000.

He helped to get Galway hurlers to the All-Ireland championship in 1980 and won his county’s, and nation’s hearts when he led Croke Park in a memorable rendition of The West’s Awake.

The GAA issued the following announcement on their Twitter page:

Mr McDonagh’s death comes less than two weeks after the death of his predecessor and equally popular and much loved former GAA President between 1994 and 1997 Jack Boothman on 10 May.

The GAA said on Twitter that he had died after a short illness and his passing would be deeply regretted by family, friends and the GAA community.

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail said Mr. McDonagh left an “indelible mark” on the Association and the sport.

“It was with great sadness that we learnt of Joe’s passing last night and I know that sentiment is shared by so many throughout the wider GAA family.

“Joe was held in extremely high regard and his company was enjoyed by so many over the course of his long involvement with the GAA in so many different capacities, not least as President from 1997 to 2000.

GAA Joe McDonagh death West is Awake
16 August 1998, The GAA President, Joe McDonagh, invites patrons at Croke Park to join him in a minutes silence in memory of the people who lost their lives in Omagh on Saturday 15thy August 1998. All Ireland Hurling Semi Final, Croke Park. Picture credit: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE.

“He and his tenure left an indelible mark on Cumann Lúthchleas Gael and his passion for our games and activities was only matched by his passion for the Irish language.

“He also had a profound interest in our international network and the further expansion of the GAA overseas.

“He will be sorely missed and I would like to offer my sympathies to his wife Peig, his family and his wide circles of friends and admirers.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “I knew Joe McDonagh well since our college days where his charisma and leadership qualities were clearly in evidence from early on.

“Joe was of course a member of that great Galway hurling team who ended years of heartbreak for the tribesmen in 1980 and sang the West’s Awake from the Hogan Stand to the supporters on the pitch and around the world.

GAA Joe McDonagh death West is Awake
28 February 2015; Former GAA President Joe McDonagh during the GAA Annual Congress 2015. Slieve Russell Hotel, Cavan. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

“Joe had exquisite Irish and was one of the greatest speakers of our native tongue that I’ve ever heard.

“In rising through the ranks of GAA administration and reaching the heights of Uachtarán CLG Joe focused always on bringing young people with him, giving them the leadership and encouragement they needed.

“Joe isn’t as renowned for his footballing prowess as his hurling but he was equally as adept with the big ball as the small.

“My sincerest sympathies go to his wife Peig and three children at this very sad time.

“He was a proud Ballinderreen man and while his club has lost a champion, Galway has lost a hero.”

President Michael D Higgins said in a statement: “Joe was a giant in the world of Gaelic games, both as a player and a leader in the Organisation of the GAA. He had an enormous commitment to the Irish language, which he spoke beautifully, and showed great leadership in the development of the language over the course of a long career in the GAA.

“As the CEO of the VEC, he was also an outstanding educationalist – he made a significant contribution to vocational education, pioneering a number of innovative projects to the benefit of many young people in his country.

“Joe will be sorely missed by his sporting colleagues, his community, and in particular by his very wide range of family and friends.

Death notice

Mc Donagh, Joe (Barna and formerly Ballinderreen, Co. Galway) 20th May, 2016 (peacefully); dearly beloved husband of Peig, much loved father of Eoin, Muireann and Eilís and brother of Eilish; Very sadly missed by his loving wife, son and his wife Gayle, daughters and their fiancées Eric and James, sister, grandchildren Caoileann, Léana and Cian, extended family and friends. Reposing at the ‘Cillín’ within the Church of Mary Immaculate Queen, Barna on Monday, 23rd May from 3 p.m. with Removal at 7 p.m. to the Church. Requiem Mass on Tuesday, 24th May at 12 noon. Funeral after Mass to Rahoon cemetery. Family flowers only. Donations (if desired) to Cancer Care West.


Sign in or create your account to join the discussion

Register now to keep up to date with all the latest:

  • Irish News
  • Sport
  • Community and Entertainment

Sign up to our Newsletter to be in with a chance to win a snazzy iPad and for all the latest...

  • Email updates
  • Regular features
  • Competitions and give aways