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Tributes to Michael Jack, legendary Donegal photographer – Suiamhneas síoraí tabhair do a Thiarna agus ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam

By Sinéad Breen Donegal PRO Mon 3rd May

Tributes to Michael Jack, legendary Donegal photographer – Suiamhneas síoraí tabhair do a Thiarna agus ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam
Tributes to Michael Jack, legendary Donegal photographer – Suiamhneas síoraí tabhair do a Thiarna agus ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Ba le croí trom a chuala mé faoi bhás Michael Jack O’Donnell Dé Satharn. Fear uasal go smíor a chnámh a raibh fíor bhródúil as CLG Dhún na nGall i rith a shaol. Duine cairdiúil a bhí ann agus bhí sé ina mháistir mar ghrianghrafadóir agus an-bhróid aige ina cheird. Bhí sé iontach éasca oibriú le Michael i mo ról mar OCP ar Bhord na Contae. Mo chomhbhrón agus comhbhrón na hoifigí go léir i CLG Dhún na nGall le Bernie, lena a mháthair, Nora agus leis an teaghlach agus a chairde go léir. Suiamhneas síoraí tabhair do a Thiarna agus ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


It was with great sadness I learned of the passing of Michael Jack O’Donnell on Saturday. Michael was a gentleman to the core, a passionate Donegal supporter, a master of his craft, so amiable and easy to deal with and a huge help in my role as Donegal PRO. Cheerfully professional and always eager to be keep abreast of everything about Donegal football he remained on the Donegal Media list throughout his illness and was still among the first to respond to emails thanking me for news or letting me know he wasn’t going to make the upcoming game but might make it next time. Tragically it was never to be. His courtesy, good humour, quiet efficiency, wisdom and re-assuring presence will be sorely missed by all. He was a constant presence in the Donegal Press Box and here are condolences, appreciations and lovely tributes from the colleagues in the Donegal Press Corps he shared it with during my stint as Press Officer. My condolences, and those of all the Executive at CLG Dhún na nGall, to Bernie, his mother Nora and all Michael’s family, his many friends and the Naomh Conaill club. May his gentle soul sleep in peace.

John McEniff, PRO, CLG Dhún na nGall


Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a chur in iúl do theaghlach agus cairde Michael ‘Jack’. Fear cinéalta, uasal, lách a bhí i Michael. Michael was ever present at the games and events  and his kind words and guidance always gave me great courage. He would always mention his old friend and colleague Séamus Mac Géidigh and both of them are now together again. Michael will be dearly missed. Slán leat a chara!

Damien Ó Dónaill, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta



Michael ‘Jack’ O’Donnell started his career with the Donegal Democrat in the early ’80 and later in that decade purchased the long lens that was his greatest companion on the sports fields of Donegal and Ireland.

For us who knew him during that time, the one constant was that his personality didn’t change. He was always positive and none more so than in recent years, showing great courage in dealing with his illness – an example to all of us. Michael ‘Jack’ was the longest serving member of the press corps in the county. His love of Donegal was only superseded by his love of his native Naomh Conaill.  His passing will leave a great void in our lives and even more so in the lives of Bernie and the O’Donnell family. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

Peter Campbell – Sports Editor, Donegal Democrat



Michael was the definition of a gentleman. Such an unassuming and sincere man. Loved the banter with him. A brilliant character and will be sadly missed. RIP Michael

Paddy McGill, Ocean FM



The Press box is a strange kind of place, split between Radio & Television people, Newspaper people and photographers.  Surprisingly, given their jobs sometimes communication between those present can be at a low level as everyone does their thing. If and when Michael Jack O Donnell arrived, and that had been the case, things always changed for the better. Michael had that wonderful ability to interact positively with everyone and make you feel the better for it. He brought that same attitude into his battle with his illness and fought the good fight from start to finish. Rest In Peace Michael Jack , the Press box will be forever a lesser place without you.

Charlie Collins




I was sad when he I heard a couple of weeks ago that Michael Jack was in a spot of bother and that his time among us was limited.  Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, I was unable to call to see which would have been difficult. Michael Jack O’Donnell was a brilliant photographer and a legend in GAA photography.  But most of all he was just a nice man. One of the best. My sympathies to Bernie, John, Dessie and Brendan (Bradas) and all the family. Slan a chara. Ar Dheis Dé ar a anam.

Tom Comack, Iconic News


Slán go fóill a chomradaí and I know we will meet again in a place where there is no more pain, and the moon is an angel’s wing.

Gerry McLaughlin, Donegal Post and Irish News


Condolences to Bernie, Bradas and the O’Donnell family on the sad passing of Michael. A great photographer, gentleman and character.  He will be sadly missed. May he Rest in Peace.

Ger Diver, CLG Dhún na nGall




The county lost a true gent over the weekend. Really sorry and saddened to hear the news on the passing of Michael Jack O’Donnell on Saturday. He’ll be badly missed on match day. A huge character  and a wonderful man who wore the green and gold and the blue and white on his heart. Rest in Peace Michael.

Oisin Kelly, Highland Radio


Michael was dauntless, cool even and in every sense of the word. He never panicked. He was the Han Solo of the sports photography world. And what a photographer he was. He was a colleague, a mentor but above all, a friend. The bounce and life his images breathed into the sports pages was amazing and, I hope others don’t mind me saying, unrivalled. Come Saturday, May 15, it’s going to be both strange and sad to know that Michael won’t be there in person, in Omagh, as Donegal finally open their season away to Tyrone, their greatest of foes. But there is absolutely no doubt we’ll all carry him in our hearts from here on in. And because of that, he’ll never miss a game again. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Frank Craig, Donegal News


Michael was one of those people you’d look forward to seeing at matches. He knew football, knew the players, their weaknesses and their strengths, and he wouldn’t be a bit shy in pointing them out. His assessments would be fair, but by god he didn’t mince his words. Over the decades he documented Gaelic games across the county in magnificent detail and his photographs captured generations of players and managers and supporters. He himself was a supporter and that seeped into his work. He has died far too young. We’ll miss those rosy red cheeks, his wide grin and his sharp wit, but through his photography Michael Jack has bequeathed to us a rich, visual legacy that will live long and his photos will evoke fond memories for generations to come. Rest in peace Michael. 

Damian Dowds, Inishowen Independent


A deep sadness swept across Donegal on Saturday afternoon as news of the death of popular Glenties photographer Michael O’Donnell filtered through. Armed with an infectious wit and a lexicon of one-liners that would slice raw iron, Michael was universally loved by the Donegal press corps. Michael – just like the thousands pictures of pictures he produced – leaves an imprint on history, which will last well into the future. The green and gold of Donegal might have beat from his heat but it was the blue of Naomh Conaill and Glenties that coursed through his veins. Rest in peace Michael.

Chris McNulty, SportsHub


So saddened to hear about the death of Michael Jack. The Naomh Conaill clubman proved a great source of strength to me when I had my own health troubles shortly after a wrote a piece about his 2017 operation. Rest easy young man.

Harry Walsh, Donegal News


Landing to games anywhere in the country with Mick was like arriving with a celebrity, everyone knew Michael. We sat at most Donegal games together, with the radio in one ear listening to the game and the other ear free to give a running commentary to each other! Donegal has lost its most talented and well known sports photographer, games won’t be the same again. I’ll miss the craic, the slagging and his infectious love of his parish and county. I’ll miss my friend. Condolences to Bernie, Sinead and family, Bradas and the O’Donnell family. Rest in peace, Michael.

Evan Logan, Inishowen News and Evan Logan Photography


A figure welcomed at national and local venues alike, from All-Ireland finals to Cúl Camps no game was too big or too small. A great sportsman, a great friend to many, a gentleman to all. Condolences to his large family circle and the Naomh Conaill Club. May Michael Jack Rest in Peace.

Ed Byrne, Donegal PRO 2014-18


On behalf of the Tirconaill Tribune I wish to extend our deepest condolences to the O’Donnell family following Michael’s sad passing on Saturday. I had the pleasure of being pitch side with Michael many times over the years at club and county matches. A true gentleman, he loved his job and that shone through in his skilled photographic coverage of so many games down the years. Rest in peace Michael.

Declan Kerr, Tirconaill Tribune



A picture, as the saying goes, tells a thousand words. The rapport and trust between Michael Jack O’Donnell and various county mangers down the years, and those closer to home in Glenties, helped chronicle the visual history of both Donegal and Naomh Conaill. He was there when the blue and white came running through Fintown with the Dr Maguire cup for the first time in 2005 just as he was when Donegal rolled home as Sam made its maiden voyage here in 1992. When you’d meet Michael Jack the photographer, whether it be in Dublin or at Davy Brennan, Clones or at the Comp, you always had the impression he was there covering football more for love than labour. Always having time for a chat. Usually about football; sometimes about other things. And the tributes to Michael Jack the man, filling radio slots, social media feeds and newspaper columns since the news of his sad passing on Saturday, show the regard he was held in. So many anecdotes, yarns and stories from so many places. Michael Jack will be remembered for both his pictures and for his words

Alan Foley, SportsHub


The GAA community in Donegal has been rocked over the last few days with the passing of one of its great characters in Michael Jack O’Donnell. Michael was a familiar face on the pitches of Donegal and further afield, and he was regarded as one of the finest sports photographers in the game. He had a fantastic eye and vision for photos, and that wasn’t consigned solely to activities on the field. He was brilliant at spotting people in the crowd, and the captions that followed were always entertaining, and never dull. Michael had a huge passion for Donegal football, both at senior and underage level. It didn’t matter if it was a packed Croke Park for an All-Ireland Final, or a run-of-the-mill Ulster Minor League match in a sparse Brewster Park, you could be sure to see Michael in attendance. He always had five minutes for a quick chat, and had a positive outlook to be admired. There was a pureness to his love for Naomh Conaill and his reviews after matches in the press box would always be fair and to the point! Naomh Conaill gave him some fabulous days and if there was a happier man in MacCumhaill Park on that Wednesday night two years ago when they clinched the Dr Maguire Cup after a fantastic trilogy, I certainly didn’t see him. His passing leaves a huge void in the Donegal media, and we will all miss his craic, slagging, banter, and conversation. I would like to pass on my condolences to Michael’s mother Nora, partner Bernie, bothers Dessie, John, Gerard and Bradas, sisters Ita, Mary, Teresa and Siobhan, his family circle, friends, and clubmates. RIP Michael Jack.

Ryan Ferry, Donegal News

My old friend Michael Jack O’Donnell from Glenties has gone to the big photo exhibition in the Sky after battling an illness in recent years that he fought with huge courage. He was a great man, a sports and news photographer who was a stable force of wisdom in a journalistic world of change and sometimes chaos. He was as staunch a Donegal GAA supporter as you will find which could sometimes find his raw emotions escape on the sideline. But he was a true professional and many of the great photos of Donegal GAA successes would be much the poorer were it not for his eagle eye and natural talent to spot something unique or unusual.  He was a gentleman and he called it straight, a trait that I truly admired in him. We will miss him terribly and hopefully celebrate his life in a proper forum when all this Covid stuff is behind us. 
You were one of the very best.  Go ndeanaí Dia trocaire ar do ainm, a Mhicheál
Michael McHugh, Donegal Post
By Sinéad Breen Donegal PRO Mon 3rd May

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