Long-serving stalwart Michael Cleary was conferred with Honorary Life Membership of Buccaneers Rugby Football Club at a recent well-attended function in The Bounty. The affable Michael has been deeply involved in Athlone and Buccaneers rugby for over five decades, only recently stepping down as Hon. Secretary.

His club colleague, golf buddy and long-time friend Tom Meagher had the honour in a moving speech on why Michael’s contribution, esteem and voluntary service warranted this great recognition.

Following his arrival in Athlone in the mid-60’s, the effervescent Mick was one of the founder members of the Squash section at the rugby club whom he then represented on the Executive Committee. He was a key member of the sub-committee that developed the club’s pitches and later designed and implemented the floodlighting at Dubarry Park. He was also a leading light in the development of the impressive facilities now at the club.

“The General” has filled many key roles over the years including Director of Facilities and Secretary and he was a proud President in 1998/99 when Buccaneers played in All-Ireland League Division One for the first time. Tom reminded the gathering that Cleary’s main claim to fame on the playing fields was featuring on a United Nations team, a feat that Mick (with tongue firmly in cheek) had told the great British & Irish Lion Syd Millar that that was something he never achieved!

His genial wit enlivened many an Executive Committee meeting at the club where the Clonmel native was honoured as Buccaneers RFC Club Person of the Year in 2018, an accolade he richly merited.

Michael said he was greatly humbled to accept this honour. The club had given him and his family so much pleasure and enjoyment for countless years. Camaraderie and relationships made was a key factor in this and he recalled with emotion the passing of close friends.

He received a standing ovation from the large attendance.