Howard Gerard Flannery

Howard was born on 21st July 1967 in Ennis, County Clare; the son of Paddy and Joan Flannery; with brother Gordon.

He started boxing when he was a toddler and won three Munster middleweight titles. He reached the national Senior finals three times, losing on each occasion to Belfast opponents. He spent three years in the U.S.A., much of it in Louisville, Kentucky, home of Muhammed Ali.

"I sparred on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights there against the pros" said Howard, who settled in Listowel in 1998 to run The Maid of Erin, a well known pub. "I also boxed in Georgia. They had regular events in which you paid $50 and the winner took all. They were exciting times."

The rear bar in The Maid of Erin is festooned with photos of Muhammed Ali's fights. "He actually signed my gloves when I was leaving the States" said Howard, who fought as Red Howard Flannery.

Maid of Erin untouched Maid of Erin retouched

The Maid Of Erin is set in the heart of the heritage town of Listowel in County Kerry. Known countrywide for its famed and protected plasterwork, the facade boasts the most famous work of craftsman Pat McAuliffe (1846-1921). The plasterwork depicts a romantic image of Mother Ireland surrounded by a harp, a wolfhound and other well known symbols of Ireland. There was controversy in 1999 when Howard decided to "cover her dignity" and painted a dress on her famous bosom. A lively debate ensued and he was persuaded to return her to her original semi-nude state.

Howard was married to Gráinne Lyne and the couple had four children: Cathal, Ali, Cayla and Conor.

In 2005, Howard founded the Clare Crusaders - a registered charity (CHY 16966) dedicated to to helping parents and families of children with special needs in County Clare achieve a better quality of life through information and support by way of one-on-one therapies, group therapies, workshops, summer camps and other activities. In these circles, Howard was fondly known as Mr. Motivator and was instrumental in raising very large sums of money for the charity.

Tragically, on 3rd June 2007, he was training with a fellow cyclist for a fund-raising triathlon in Kilkee when he was accidentally struck by a car near Newmarket-on-Fergus and killed. He is buried in Liscannor, County Clare.

In 2009, Howard's brother Gordon founded the Kerry Crusaders as a sister organisation to help families of children with special needs in County Kerry - specifically the Nano Nagle School in Listowel. And so the noble legacy continues to grow.

[his portrait is illustrated above; courtesy of the Clare Crusaders]