The town of Ennis, County Clare was packed with thousands of fans Tuesday who lined the streets to see Muhammad Ali as he was made the first honorary freeman during a visit to his great-grandfather's home.

Ali flew down from Dublin this morning and was the guest of honor at a civic reception in the town center before taking a drive to the home of his great-grandfather Abe Grady, who lived on the Turpike Road and emigrated to the United States in the 1860s.

The 67-year-old three-time world champion has been battling Parkinson's disease, and it was his wife Lonnie who addressed the crowd in Ennis on his behalf.

“You, the people of Ennis have been so overwhelming in your outpouring of love to this man," she said.

"We are sincerely appreciative and thankful for each and every one of you and now that we know that Muhammad is an Ennis man we will be back.

"I can't tell you what a pleasure it is for us to be here and to be in Muhammad's ancestral home and to finally know where his great-grandfather Abe Grady emigrated from.

"It's interesting, because when you look at Muhammad's pugilistic skills and his loquacious ways, I'm sure if his great-grandfather were alive he'd swear it came from him.”