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The Mourneview Park/ Linenhall Square area of Newry paid tribute to possibly their most famous son yesterday, 30 August with the unveiling of two murals remembering Celtic Football Club's first Manager.

Unveiling the Willie Maley mural were from left: Newry City Councillor, Cllr Charlie Casey; Marian McAnulty and Kathleen Lowry, Greater Linenhall Area Community Association.
Unveiling the Willie Maley mural were from left: Newry City Councillor, Cllr Charlie Casey; Marian McAnulty and Kathleen Lowry, Greater Linenhall Area Community Association.

Willie Maley was born in the army barracks, (now Mourneview Park) in 1868. Maley won many titles playing for Celtic and in 1897 he became the Club's first Manager.

His father Thomas was a Sergeant in the 21st Royal North British Fusilier regiment of foot (Royal Scots Fusiliers)  and his mother Mary Montgomery gave birth to him on 25 April 1868 in the barracks. A year later the family moved to Scotland.

Jim Rowntree and Jim Finnegan unveil one of the Willie Maley murals. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Jim Rowntree and Jim Finnegan unveilled one of the Willie Maley murals. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The murals were the brainchild of the Willie Maley Celtic Supporters Club, a group presently working on a project to highlight Maley's football legacy in the Newry area.

Quite a crowd turned out for the 11am unveiling. Explaining the murals Diane Cowan from the Supporters Club said  "In 2016 when the Willie Maley Club was founded we knew that we wanted to be a bit more than a supporters club, the idea of the murals was born and the club set about fundraising thousands to help over 7 different charities around Newry, Fight for Alfie, Elsa Cancer Charity and PIPS but we also wanted to preserve the legacy of the great manager. With the help of Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency we set up a  legacy project which will  showcase the growth and importance of football in Newry and Mourne right back to Willie Maley. This is just the start of the recognition that the famous man so rightly deserves."

Some of the crowd who turned out for the unveiling. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Cowan also thanked Wipeco for the truly amazing murals.

Fellow Club Member Shauna Bezaras added "Willie Maley is one of the most prominent figures in our beloved club's history. He was born right here in the military barracks in 1868. And although his time here was short - his family moving on to Glasgow when Willie was just 1 year old, it is a significant part of Willie's story for those of us who hold Celtic Football Club in our hearts.

Celtic and proud.

We all know his accolades from his 43 years as manager of Celtic. 30 major trophies, including 16 league championships and 14 Scottish Cups. To this day he remains one of the most influential figures In Celtic's 133 year history and is one of the longest serving football managers ever!"

Quoting Shakespeare's Cassius in Julius Ceasar, Bezaras said "Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world, Like a collosus; and we petty men, Walk under his huge legs, peep about and find ourselves dishonourable graves."

Bezaras concluded "In such a way we must consider Willie Maley in the context of the early years of Celtic Football club. How much Willie Maley contributed to Celtic can probably be summed up in one single phrase -'Willie Maley - he is Celtic' "

Paying tribute to Willie Maley.

The murals have already proved extremely popular with people stopping to take photographs of them. One of them lists all Maley's achievements while player and manager of Celtic.

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