Seanad debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad


1:00 pm

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)

I welcome to the Seanad guests of Senator O’Reilly. Elizabeth Ormiston is a former IFA leader and one of the first women elected. She is joined by Peter and his children, Philip, Moya and Aaron. They are very welcome.

Members will be aware of the sad passing over the weekend of our friend and former colleague, John O'Mahony. John served with many of us in both Houses of the Oireachtas and was a gentleman and thorough professional. He had a long and distinguished career as a politician - a TD and Senator - and as a member of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael with prowess on and off the football field, in particular as manager. People will know his managerial career was exceptional and included bringing Mayo to its first final in 38 years in 1989 and Leitrim winning its first Connacht championship in 1994 after an absence of 67 years. Of course, he also managed Galway to win two All-Irelands in 1998 and 2001.As Members will know, he deprived Mick O'Dwyer's Kildare of an all-Ireland in 1998. It was Galway's first victory in 32 years and a testament to his prowess as a coach and talent in minding, managing and nurturing people.

John was a native of Kilmovee in County Mayo. As a teacher in St. Nathy's secondary school, Ballaghaderreen, he was heavily involved in the local GAA club. Previously, he was involved in Maynooth college with the Sigerson Cup.

John, as many of us will know, never shrunk or hid from a challenge. When he was asked to run for politics in 2007, he thought about it and said "Yes". He was elected in both 2007 and 2011. As a member of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, he was a very strong voice on many issues. He was sometimes uncompromising in his views but he never let an argument get in the way of a friendship or personal relationship. He was very proud of the people of Mayo and was thrilled when Enda Kenny appointed him as a Senator in 2016. He served many of us in this House for four years. We have very happy memories of John O'Mahony as a politician, friend and sportsperson. For me, it is for the private conversations, friendship, phone calls and discussion of many social issues that I will remember John O'Mahony.

Many of us in the broader world of politics and the GAA will recall Leitrim winning the Connacht championship in 1994. We have since lost Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, John's friend Tommie Gorman and John. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, during his commentary on the match, said there was many a Leitrim man looking down from the veranda of heaven right then watching the drama unfold. That veranda of heaven is today full of many great people, joined by John O'Mahony, our friend and colleague. I hope his family will take solace in the fact that there is nobody in these Houses who would say a bad word about him as a person. At this sad time, I ask all of us to extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to Gerardine, Gráinne, Niamh, Rhona, Deirdre, Cliodhna, his brothers Dan and Stephen, his grandchildren, his son-in-law, his extended family in the GAA community and his many colleagues and friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

At the end of the Order of Business, we shall stand for a moment of silence.


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