It is with huge regret that we announce the passing of our former club President and one of our seven past Presidents of the IRFU, Don Crowley, on August 16th peacefully in the loving care of his family.
A Galway City native educated at The Bish, Don was a distinguished open-side flanker during his playing career. He won a Connacht Schools Senior Cup medal and captained Connacht Schools XV, before studying engineering where he won a Connacht Schools Senior Cup medal with UCG. However at club level he would go on to have a life-long association with Galwegians, with whom he also won a Connacht Junior League medal.
After hanging up his boots, Don retained his involvement with Wegians where he became a club legend and one of our greatest ambassadors. He had the honour of being President of Galwegians during the famous club tour of Canada in 1977. After serving as club President, he then went on to serve his province in a lengthy and distinguished career. His administrative talents saw him serve as Hon. Secretary of the Connacht Branch from 1981 to 1989, before being elected Branch President for the 1993/1994 season.
At national level his abilities were soon spotted, and he was first elected as a delegate to the IRFU Committee in 1987/88. He would sit on a range of various sub-committees, notably the Charitable Trust for 11 years. In 2002/03 he achieved a personal ambition when he was elected to the highest office in Irish Rugby by becoming President of the IRFU. Quoted at the time, he said: ““I am very proud on a personal level and also for my club Galwegians and the Connacht Branch. After my very enjoyable playing career, I was very happy to serve the game at club, provincial and National level.”
That year his club Galwegians held a celebratory dinner in his honour where over 300 friends and club colleagues attended a memorable event in the then Galway Radisson Hotel. It would also prove to be a momentous season, as the fate of Connacht rugby and its funding was under serious threat from the IRFU at the time. However under Don’s Presidency and stewardship, and with strong public backing from the grassroots rugby community, the province’s professional status was preserved.
A hugely popular man, Don’s efficiency and personality made him perfect for the role of liaison officer to major touring teams coming into Ireland down the years, including the All Blacks, Australians, South Africa, the Barbarians, Italy, Canada and Fiji. Tributes have been pouring in for Don since news of his passing, best summarised by Galwegians President Frank Kinneen who described him thus: “Don Crowley ..our incredible statesman, life-long member of Galwegians and an absolute gentleman. May he rest in peace.”
Don is survived by his loving wife Vicky and children, so to them and his extended family we extend our heartfelt sympathies.