The May meeting of Longford County Council, which was scheduled to take place last Wednesday, was adjourned as a mark of respect for former Fine Gael County Councillor Gerry Brady, who passed away last month after a short illness.
Instead, the elected members of the local authority took the time to reflect and pay tribute to their late colleague, who had served the Drumlish area as an elected representative for three decades.
“Everyone in this chamber has been saddened at Gerry’s passing,” said Fine Gael group leader Cllr Micheál Carrigy. “He served his constituency excellently and brought wit and experience to these meetings.
“I’m at a loss as he was a person you could always call upon and whatever advice you needed, he gave it to you straight. It’s a tough period for the Brady family, with Gerry’s wife Elizabeth also having passed away recently.”
Cllr Mae Sexton (Ind) recalled how she rarely saw eye-to-eye with Mr Brady on political issues, but that their disagreements were confined the Council chamber.
“Gerry and I had a long relationship of agreeing to disagree on political matters. However, we did agree on the bigger issues, and when we argued in the chamber, it always stayed there,” she explained. “I stood with great pride in his guard of honour and I’m really sorry at his passing.
Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Luie McEntire remarked on how Mr Brady represented the north Longford area alongside him for over 30 years, and that they shared an enduring friendship.
“We never had a cross word, though just when you thought you had won a debate, he could hit you with a one-liner.
“He was a real family man and a great politician, and he served the Drumlish area during tough times.
“He was highly thought-of as a teacher in Moyne, and later sat on the Board of Management, and I don’t think the students had anything bad to say about him.
“I’ll never forget getting the text telling me he had died. I regarded him as a real friend.”
Cllr John Duffy (FG), said that Mr Brady’s death had shocked his local area.
“It’s a very said time,” he continued. “I served with Gerry for five years and I was the only running mate he’d ever had.
“He had taught me when I was a student and he was able to get people to toe the line without being heavy-handed.
“He was also a great GAA man and was instrumental in getting the Monaduff grounds for Fr Manning Gaels. At the time he said ‘we’ve no money but we’re going to buy it anyway’, which showed his determination!
“It’s sad for us to lose him.”
Cllr Colm Murray (FG) added: “It’s sad having to pay tribute to him after he only retired a few months ago.”
“He taught at Moyne for over 40 years and I believe he used to terrorise the top table at Longford County Board meetings when he was the Drumlish delegate.
“It’s a testament to his hard work and popularity that his last election in 2009 saw him getting the highest vote he ever got. It’s hard to keep that upward trend going.
“He was a great character and great counsel to Fine Gael members.”
The tributes continued with Cllr Martin Mulleady (FF) telling the chamber he had known Mr Brady “for as long as I can remember”.
“I’ve been talking to former Moyne students and not one had a bad thing to say about him. I saw Gerry putting everything into Drumlish. He was a good friend of mine, as is Paraic and the rest of the family. They’ve gone through a tough time but I know he’d want them to move on and be successful, and they will.”
Commenting on Mr Brady’s time in public office, Cllr Padraig Loughrey (FF) said, “I noticed from day one that he only spoke when he had something worthwhile to say, and his workrate for Paraic’s election campaign last year was higher than ever before.”
An emotional Cllr Peggy Nolan told the meeting she had sat on the Council with Mr Brady for a decade.
“You learned something new from him at every meeting, and he could throw out one-liners that would stop you in your tracks. He had a great love for education and he always had great pride when his former students went on to do great things.
Fianna Fáil’s Cllr PJ Reilly said he recognised the pain the Brady family must be experiencing at present.
“To lose both parents within two weeks is very tough,” he admitted. Addressing Cllr Paraic Brady, he added: “Paraic, you’ve made your parents proud and it’s great they were able to see you elected.”
Cllr John Browne said: “I knew Gerry for years and years, and he was a very good friend of mine. I’d like to acknowledge the electioneering advice he passed on to me.”
Leas-Cathaoirleach Cllr Seamus Butler (FF), who chaired the meeting in the absence of Cathaoirleach Cllr Mark Casey (Ind), stated that Mr Brady had been “the epitome of good public service”.
“He was admired and never had a bad word about anyone. He was a true polymath and it was an honour to serve with him on the Audit Committee. It’s important that we set aside this meeting to remember him.”
Speaking on behalf of the Council’s Executive, County CEO Tim Caffrey told the chamber he would “never forget the words of advice Gerry gave me”.
“His death is a tremendous loss to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
Acknowledging the tributes paid to his late father, Cllr Paraic Brady said his passing has “left a hole in the Brady family”.
“He was one of those fellas; if you deserved a kick, you got a kick, and if you deserved a hug, you got a hug. In school, he always stood up for his students.
“Before the last election, he used to ring me every day during the canvass and he put in a great effort with me. He wanted that seat for the people of Drumlish.
“We’re a strong family and we’ll get through this, and we can look back on the good memories he gave us.”