Donegal and the Rosses is mourning one of the county’s great sporting ambassadors and one of the county’s earliest Olympians following the death of Pa Sharkey.
Pa Sharkey, a champion boxer in both Ireland and Scotland, boxed at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, passed away on Monday morning at Letterkenny University Hospital following a long illness. He was 84.
“Pa Sharkey was a true gentleman and a great ambassador for Donegal and Ireland,” was how Peter O’Donnell, President of the Donegal Boxing Board described the late Pa, who was laid to rest yesterday in Kincasslagh,following Requiem Mass in St Mary’s Church, Kincasslagh.
“He held the unique distinction of representing three countries, Ireland, Scotland and Australia and he was a championship winner in Ireland and Scotland and he gained a big reputation in Australia during his time in the country.
“And of course he boxed at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne; that was the Olympics that Ronnie Delaney won a gold for Ireland in the 1500 metres.
“He was a lovely man and I speak for all of Donegal boxing when I say we are all saddened by his death and we wish our condolences to his wife and all his family.
“His son, Patrick, was also a good boxer and boxed in the National Senior Championships and reached a senior championship final in 2002 and he also represented at international level.”
The late Pa Sharkey, heavyweight, lost his first round fight to a third round knockout in the 1956 Olympics to the Swedish champion Thorner Ahsman.
Pa, who won an Irish Junior championship in 1951 and a Scottish senior a couple of years later, was living and working in Australia in 1956 at the time of the Olympics. And he had built up quite a reputation in Australian boxing circles by the time the Olympics came around.
He was also a trustee of the Naomh Muire GAA Club.
The youngest of a family of 11, the late Pa Sharkey is survived by his wife, Margaret; sons James and Patrick; daughters Bridget, Margaret Rose, Grace and Eileen; sisters Anna and Bernadette; grandchildren, nephews and nieces and a wide family circle.