Nearly 2,000 people gathered on Saturday to pay tribute to the life of former Defence Forces chief-of-staff and footballer Dermot Earley in his home village of Gorthaganny, in west Co Roscommon.
Earley, who died from cancer 14 months ago at the age of 62. was honored by President Mary McAleese, who unveiled a life-size bronze statue of him. The monumument, which was sculpted by Seamus Connolly from Co Clare, was erected on a plinth beside the village national school and just 50 metres from the home of his mother, Kitty, who is 87.
McAleese said that while the Earley family had to share Dermot with the Defence Forces and the nation, there was never a more loved chief-of-staff.
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She noted that in Gorthaganny and the county of Roscommon he was “a hero, a statesman, a man of remarkable character, skill and sheer goodness. For the people of Roscommon, he was a Cuchulainn-type figure, an exceptional sportsman who had a rare talent to inspire and motivate."
Earley's lifelong friend Martin Walsh said that the community held several fundraisers for the €50,000 statue project.
Earley won two All Stars and played for Roscommon for 20 years and later managed the county team and also Kildare, where he settled when in the Defence Forces.
He spent many years at the UN in New York as a military representative for the UN.