By Jerry Glick reporting: When he fought he used only what he was born with; two fists and no gloves. He lived from 1788 to 1820. A scant 32 years. His name was Dan Donnelly and after he died his right arm was removed from his body and preserved by dipping it into red-lead paint.
Today it is black with age and for the first time traveled from Ireland to the United States accompanied by its owner, Josephine Byrne. Ms. Byrne's husband Desmond died six months ago and it was always his desire to bring the arm to New York.
"Two months after my husband died," remembered Mrs. Byrne. "I got a phone call from Jim Houlihan who said they have had meetings over it and would I bring the arm over to the Irish Arts Center in New York."
Josephine Byrne former owner of the Hideout Pub in Kilcullen, Ireland who is the rightful owner of the arm brought the relic to Houlihan who first displayed it at Gallagher's Steak House for the media.
"We owned the Pub for 75 years, and it (the arm) was on display at the Pub for 43 years," added Bryne.
"Quite a few fighters and movie stars stopped into the Pub," said a proud Byrne. "It was very well noticed."
According to the Irish Arts Center, Jim Houlihan is the curator of "Fighting Irishmen: A Celebration of the Celtic Warrior." The display of legendary boxing artifacts, including J. L. Sullivan's coat, and Jack Dempsey's blazer that was made for him, a pair of boxing gloves donated by actor Liam Nielson who a host of this event, as well many other items will be on exhibit at the Irish Arts Center at 553 West 51st. Street.
"The show's going to open on August 28th and it will run through November 30th," said Houlihan. "It will be open to the general public Monday through Friday, ten to four, or by appointment."
Donnelly became a fighting legend and national hero in Ireland after he won the English Title when he fought 22 brutal minutes against the English Champion George Cooper and won the title.
"He was Knighted by King George," said Bryne. "He was known as Sir Dan Donnelly."
Donnelly died suddenly in 1920 and grave robbers took his body to the Royal Hospital where a surgeon realized who it was and unbelievably took his right arm as a keep-sake.
It bounced around through the decades until it ended up in Jim Bryne's hands in the 1950's. It was a fixture at the Hideout for four decades. Jim passed it to his son Des who died six months ago and the hand is, as noted before, owned by his widow, Josephine Byrne.
Dan Donnelly entered the Hall Of Fame in 1960.