Granard bids farewell to former councillor

Tributes had been paid to former Granard Town Councillor Mary O’Reilly, who died earlier this month after a brave battle with illness.

Tributes had been paid to former Granard Town Councillor Mary O’Reilly, who died earlier this month after a brave battle with illness.

The Lough Gowna native, and resident of Market Street, Granard, passed away almost three weeks ago at Mullingar’s Midlands Regional Hospital.

A well-liked and respected member of the local community, Mary was perhaps best known for her involvement in political life, a role she executed with the highest distiction as a member of Granard Town Council.

That spell came in just shy of the Millennium at the 1999 local elections when she secured the ninth and final seat, just edging out Independent candidate James Brady on a nail-biting tenth count.

Despite the close nature of that contest, her success in gaining a seat was made all the more sigificant as it was the first time Labour had ever won a seat in the area.

Sitting Councillor Sean Howard, who assumed that mantle five years later, this week paid testimony to his long-time friend and party colleague.

“I canvassed for Mary the time before she did get in (elected) and when she got in the second time, I remember her saying to me that it was the best thing that had ever happened to her. She was really proud to be a councillor,” he said.

Yet securing a seat for Labour was only half of what Mary wanted to achieve, according to Cllr Howard.

“She was very good in that role (as a councillor),” he reflected. “She was great at making representations for people and what’s more she even had Willie Penrose (TD) running around the place after her.”

Deputy Penrose backed up those views when contacted earlier this week.

“She (Mary) certainly kept me on my toes,” he reflected. “I would get calls either by letter or telephone at least once, if not twice a week. I will always remember Mary as a very quiet, unassuming person who was very dedicated to her role as a councillor.”

Five years after winning that seat, the 2004 local elections saw her lose out. Undaunted, Mary continued to work diligently behind the scenes and remained a committed community activist.

Heavily involved in the north Longford fisheries circuit, Mary was also noted for her strong allegiance to the Church.

Her home on the town’s Market Street was also the location of the town’s long established Central Bar for many years which was fronted by her late mother, Rita.

Cared for by her devoted sister Ann for many years, Mary passed away on November 5 last.

Her Funeral Mass was held inside a well attended St Mary’s Church, Granard before being later laid to rest at Loch Gowna Cemetery.

She is also survived by her brother Harry, extended family, relatives, neighbours and friends.

Asked how history, in time, would look back on his close friend, Cllr Howard said simply: “Mary was just a very quiet, polite and precise person. She was good craic when you got to know her, she had a good circle of friends and was always very cheerful. She will be sadly missed.”