Stories from the Wall: RIP Michael McGowan

Michael McGowan who died last week was a loyal supporter of Sligo Rovers throughout his life.

Born in March 1946, one of nine children, Michael’s family home was in Jinks Avenue, close to the Showgrounds.

He maintained a close affinity with the club down the decades.

(For information on purchasing a Bit O’ Red Wall Tile click here)

He won a scholarship to Summerhill College and while attending UCG he captained the side that won the Universities competition, the Collingwood Cup. He and other Sligo-born players, including David Pugh and Donal Mc Lynn, became leading figures in 3rd level colleges football.

He returned to his alma mater and began a 40-year career on the staff of Summerhill College, teaching History, English and French.

In his spare time he helped to manage and encourage generations of teams.

He influenced many League of Ireland players including Paul Magee, John Kent, Enda Eames, Joe Murphy, John Caulfield, Conor O’Grady and Alan Cawley.

Michael became a stalwart of Collegians FC and he and others including Fr Michael Devine, Michael Mooney, Seamus ‘Ski’ Foy, the late Ronnie Scanlon and Martin Dolan were important influences in the club.

Michael McGowan, lining out with students for an indoor soccer tournament at McGarrys, Carrowmore in 1973/74

Back Row, left to right. Michael Mc Gowan, Enda Eames, Austin Jennings

Front Row, left to right, Tony Mc Gowan, Brian Mc Ternan, John Tansey

Michael played indoor football into his 60’s. A Leeds supporter, he sometimes joked that he was more ‘Paul Madeley than Norman Hunter’. He was a great admirer of Bobby Moore and Franz Beckenbauer.

He was an active sportsman and was a familiar face in Sligo tennis club and Strandhill Golf Club. He crossed the bay to become captain of the Co. Sligo golf club in Rosses Point. 

He enjoyed social occasions built around sport and he became a regular quiz master and quiz contributor.

For five hours, mourners visited last Wednesday night, as huge numbers came to pay their respects at the family home on Cairns Road, where Michael and his wife, Mary, reared their daughters Maeve and Cliodhna.

Sligo Cathedral was packed for his funeral mass on Thursday where the congregation included generations of Summerhill College teachers and past pupils. His niece, Pauline Mc Lynn, (Mrs Doyle of the Father Ted), provided one of the two readings.

The chief celebrant of the funeral mass, Fr Pat Lombard, told how each time he visited Michael, the first topic of conversation was Sligo Rovers.

A tile on the Showgrounds Wall, purchased by Summerhill past pupils in memory of their teacher, will state