Mary McAleese Claimed Her Kid Was Responsible For The Greatest Irish Football Chant

Mary McAleese Claimed Her Kid Was Responsible For The Greatest Irish Football Chant

1 July 1990 was a busy Sunday afternoon at Dublin Airport.

The Irish football team arrived home that afternoon, the day after losing to Italy in Rome. A few hours earlier, Nelson Mandela arrived on his ever visit to Ireland, five months after being released from prison.

He was to receive the Freedom of the City of Dublin and would address the Dail the following day.

The coinciding arrivals prompted a chant which has gone down in history. And a future Irish President claimed her daughter was the genesis of the chant.

Mary McAleese and her family were among those in Dublin airport that day.

McAleese wrongly persuaded her kids that the arrival of Nelson Mandela in Dublin was a more historic event than the return of the Irish football team.

When Mandela got off the plane at Dublin airport, McAleese's five year old daughter Sarah, pointed at the South African hero and began the chant 'Ooh Aah Paul McGrath'.


Before her mother had time to wallow in mortification of it all, the crowd had picked up the chant, but crucially, they added their own flavour.

Soon, the chant 'Ooh Aah Paul McGrath's Da' rand around the airport.

At a later encounter, while President, McAleese informed Mandela of her role in the chant, an encounter which she relayed on Sean O'Rourke on RTE.

I told him that I took full responsibility and he laughed heartily.

Read more: Eamon Dunphy's Reaction To Ireland's Exit From Italia 90 May Surprise You


Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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