Galway native Michael Kelly, affectionately known as “Mike Legs,” was born in Loughrea in 1956. He attended primary school in Carrabane, just outside Loughrea where his mother Maura was the teacher.
Later he attended the De La Salle Brothers’ school in Loughrea, and besides mastering the 3Rs, Mike’s hurling career began to blossom. He won two under-12 county championships, two Feile competitions, plus runner-up medals at under-14 and minor.
Upon finishing school, Mike worked for four years in Galway before heading to the U.S. in 1979 in search of adventure. He immediately joined the Galway hurling team in the Big Apple which was just on the cusp of becoming one of the greatest and most successful teams to strut their stuff in the tough and tight confines of Gaelic Park. Mike became an integral part of the cadre of fine hurlers based in New York, who would at times be joined by some of the greatest hurlers west of the Shannon.
Though Mike was on the losing side in the New York final against Clare in 1981, he captained the ’82 team that defeated Tipperary and Galway would go on to achieve a three-peat at Tipp’s expense. However, Tipperary would get revenge to claim the ’85 title, but Galway were kingpins again in ’86.
Besides Mike amassing a stellar medal collection with Galway seniors, he was also a major force with the New Jersey junior hurlers, winning championships in ’81 and ’82, while also putting impressive tallies on the scoreboard. Mike also played football with Jackie Salmon’s Connemara team for a few seasons.
When his playing career ended, Mike remained very active behind the scenes, not just with Galway hurling in the Big Apple, but was always engaged in Galway affairs on both sides of the pond.
Perhaps a very fitting testament and appreciation of Mike’s commitment and contribution to all things Galway was that he was chosen as the Galway Hurling Club’s and Galway Association’s Guest of Honor in 2015. The honor was thoroughly deserved.
Over the years, Mike had a long and successful career in the hospitality trade at places such as The Terminal, Patrick Conway’s, The Wild Geese, Mustang Sally’s, and, most recently, Nugent’s Bar in Yonkers.
According to the adage you pick horses for courses, well, gentleman Mike’s demeanor and disposition were well suited for his chosen profession. He was an ideal conversationalist, well versed in the topics of the day, and not shy about voicing his opinion.
In addition, the genial and generous Mike was quick-witted, always willing to lend a sympathetic ear and provide a reassuring comment, and of course, come up with a comeuppance when needed, dished out without rage or rancor.
Mike was waked at Williams Funeral Home in the Bronx on November 5, and the funeral Mass was at St. Barnabas on the 6th. He is survived by Heather, his son Aidan, sister Therese, brother Colum, relatives here and in Ireland, and legions of friends all over the world.