Dan Rooney, celebrated owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and great friend of Newry has passed away today aged 84.

The Irish American had strong connections with The Meadow in Newry and was a great supporter of the city. The annual Rooney Fellowship started by him, takes a student on placement in Pittsburgh each year and has been running for over 24 years now. Up until 2015, Mr Rooney was there in person to present the award.

Dan Rooney
Dan Rooney

Mr Rooney a former US Ambassador to Ireland was very proud of his “Ancestral home” and Rooneys Meadow will always be a reminder of the connection.

The Steelers boss was a regular visitor to the Whitegates Community Centre, indeed his ancestors James and Mary Rooney were from the area.

As Runaidh - The Story of Art Rooney and his clan states “From the seacoast manufacturing town of Newry, in Northern Ireland, James and Mary Rooney, steerage passengers on a sailing ship, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Canada during the Irish potato famine near the end of the 1840’s. The Young married couple settled in Montreal, where James Rooney, who had worked with hot metal in a Newry iron forge, became a millwright”

Pittsburgh Steelers tribute to owner Dan Rooney on their Twitter feed.
Pittsburgh Steelers tribute to owner Dan Rooney on their Twitter feed.

Tributes have been pouring in. Minister Charlie Flanagan commented “Sad to learn of the passing of Dan Rooney. A true friend of Ireland as US ambassador & Founding President of the Ireland Fund.”

Feargal McCormick of PKF FPM said “Very sad news has reached Newry & Ireland about death of Dan Rooney An outstanding,caring leader & friend of Newry."

Former President Obama added “Dan Rooney was a great friend of mine, but more importantly, he was a great friend to the people of Pittsburgh, a model citizen, and someone who represented the United States with dignity and grace on the world stage. I knew he’d do a wonderful job when I named him as our United States Ambassador to Ireland, but naturally, he surpassed my high expectations, and I know the people of Ireland think fondly of him today”