By Eoin Kelleher
A NEW Mayor for Cashel was unanimously elected amid emotional scenes at the Annual Meeting of the Town Council on Friday. The election of Cllr Maribel Wood as First Citizen, was tinged with sadness following the recent sudden death of Independent Cllr Martin Browne and the continuing illness of retiring Mayor Michael Browne.
Tributes were paid to Cllr Martin Browne at a special sitting of Cashel Town Council on Wednesday morning (see pg2), and to Mayor Michael Browne, who made world headlines when he became the first Sinn Féin member to personally greet a reigning British Monarch to the Rock of Cashel.
“You had a wonderful year as Mayor, and we’re all proud of you,” Cllr Séan McCarthy told Mayor Browne. “You fulfilled your duties to the town with vigour. The community has benefitted by the way you committed yourself to the office of Mayor. You were never found wanting.”
During the Queen’s recent visit, Michael Browne was nearly “crowned the King of Cashel,” said Cllr McCarthy. Cllr Browne acquitted himself with dignity during difficult interviews with national and international media, and performed very well in the last General Election despite not being able to participate, Cllr McCarthy told the Chamber.
Cllr Joe Moloney said he was “never more proud” of Mayor Michael Browne than in the last few weeks. “The people of Cashel are proud as punch of you. I wish you the best of health, Micky. You’re a great colleague, and a good friend. You worked hard for your constituents, and I wish you a speedy recovery.”
Cllr PJ Quinlan said that, at a recent meeting of Fine Gael Councillors in Sligo, the name of Michael Browne was on everybody’s lips. Cllr Eoghan Lawrence said Cllr Browne had always put the people of Cashel first. Cllr Dan Dillon said Cllr Browne was a “fantastic ambassador for the town”, while Cllr Eddie Bennett said it was typical of Cllr Browne that he would “climb every mountain” that didn’t keep him down.
Tributes were also paid to Cllr Browne from Town Manager Séan Keating, and Town Clerk Marie McGivern. Joking, Cllr Browne said his successor, Maribel Wood, must be the “longest serving Mayor Cashel has ever had,” as Cllr Wood performed some of the Mayor’s functions in the past months. Cllr Wood was proposed for Mayor by Cllr Séan McCarthy, seconded by Cllr Moloney. Cllr Séan McCarthy was elected as Deputy Mayor, proposed by Cllr Michael Browne, and seconded by Cllr Joe Moloney. Both elections were unopposed.
In her acceptance speech, Cllr Wood said it had been a “surreal” few weeks for Cashel. “Tonight is a historic occasion for both the Wood family in Cashel and the Molina family in Spain. For many years my grandfather was Mayor of his native town in the Province of Cordoba and my husband Tom’s great, great grandfathers were members of the Corporation and Town Commissioners here in the 19th century. Tom himself was Chairperson and Mayor on three occasions during his 30-year membership of the Council while his father Dick, took a well earned rest in 1999 after 44 years of public service during which time he held the chair on four occasions.
“You will be glad to know that I have no intention of retaining a Council seat for that length of time and anyway I doubt if the electorate would place their confidence in me over such a lengthy period,” said Cllr Wood.
“To say that events in Cashel over the past week were surreal would be an understatement. Whoever thought when we extended an invitation to Queen Elisabeth that it would make such an impact and world headlines for all the right reasons? With Councillor Browne we can all feel proud of Cashel Town Council’s role in making history.
Then, within hours of the royal departure we were suddenly plunged into disbelief and shock with the untimely passing of our colleague, Cllr Martin Browne. It surely focused my mind on what really matters in life.”
The role of Councillor “is not about glory, status, or power” but about promoting local projects, and “helping people when help is needed,” continued Cllr Wood. “Hosting the Charter of European Rural Communities at the end of June, when 300 delegates, including Mayors from 26 towns across the European Union will arrive here, is a daunting task but I have no doubt we will rise again to the occasion and it will be a resounding success.
“While the Rock is an iconic monument overlooking the plains of Tipperary, our people are the heart of the town. Together as a strong community, we can meet and overcome the challenging times ahead, so let’s go for it.”