Clonmel man Mark O’Donnell was recently promoted to the rank of Master of Taekwon-Do (7th Degree Black Belt). He travelled to Glasgow to train at a two-day Black Belt seminar and to grade under Grandmaster Rhee Ki Ha (9th Degree). Grandmaster Rhee, the man who introduced Taekwon-Do to Ireland, was impressed by O’Donnell’s technical skill and power breaking demonstration, where he smashed an array of timber and tiles with his hands and feet. At the age of 36, Master O’Donnell is now the youngest Taekwon-Do Master in Europe.
Originally from Shamrock Hill in Clonmel, Mark is the son of the late Liam and Joan O’Donnell. Most of his family have moved away from the town, although his brother Tom and his family still live there, so Mark is a regular visitor to the town.
In 1987, under the guidance of his then Instructor, Billy Keane of Clonmel Taekwon-Do School, Mark began his training. He was promoted to Black Belt at the age of 16, and with 24 years of unbroken training he became the youngest European ever to be promoted to ITF 7th Degree. Senior Master Francis Barrett, 8th Degree, is now his instructor.
Mark moved to Galway to study at UCG in 1992 and set up (with fellow Instructor Robert G Howard) the Galway Taekwon-Do School in 1993 and the Athlone Taekwon-Do School in 1998. He is a former Irish team member and international gold medallist who has also trained many students to medals at national level competition, as well as many students to win international and European medals. He continues to train and teach Taekwon-Do to men, women and children at the Renmore Community Centre in Galway. After 24 years of pursuing his goal this dedicated martial artist has reached the pinnacle of his career.
Carrick-on-Suir Taekwon-Do School congratulates Mark O’Donnell on this magnificent achievement.