The pages of history closed on County Tipperary’s Joint Libraries Committee with the body holding its final meeting ahead of abolition following this May’s local elections.
The committee, the only joint body linking North and South Tipperary county councils, was first established in 1927 and oversaw the county’s library services.
Former librarian Martin Maher had mixed feelings at the last meeting in its Thurles headquarters, saying while it was a “sad day, a day full of memories”, it was also a “day of hope, one full of new beginnings”.
Mr Maher, who served as librarian for 33 years, described the library service as an “enriching” one because it enriched peoples’ lives, much the same as education, the arts and sport.
“It has left a fine legacy behind. Everybody was united in developing a service for Tipperary and in making it a better service,” he said.
County manager Joe MacGrath said the link back to 1927 gave a “sense of community” that the service had. “The members should be justifiably proud of the service and are handing it over in a strong condition.”
He said the library service “probably touched more lives than any other council service”.
Mr MacGrath told Cllr Marie Murphy that it was “unlikely” there would be any increase in staffing, “but it will keep what it has”.
He said the committee had been truly representative of the people of County Tipperary, with the elected members reflecting the views of the county.
“It is important when we have the new structure that the members continue to have a say in library services,” said Mr MacGrath.
“I thank you all for your commitment, and I, as manager, will ensure the adequacy of funding for the service,” he said.
Library committee chair Cllr Siobhan Ambrose said it had been an honour to serve as chair and pointing to new developments such as the introduction of an ebook service, she said the library was going from strength to strength.
Cllr Ambrose paid tribute to the staff, current and former, for their work.
Both Cllr Murphy and Mae Quinn said they had family links to the first committee, and Cllr Murphy pointed out the irony where they were being abolished at a time when the county was being united.
Tributes were also paid to the service and staff by vice-chair Cllr Jonathan Meaney, Cllr John “Rocky” McGrath, Cllr Mary Swords and Cllr Eddie Moran.