By Eoin Kelleher
TRIBUTES have been paid to the late Cashel Town Councillor and former Chairman of the Tipperary Camogie Board Cllr Michael Browne, who died on Sunday morning following a grave illness.
Cllr Browne will be laid to rest today (Wednesday) in St John the Baptist Church, Cashel, at 11am for Funeral Mass at noon, followed by Interment afterwards in Cormack’s Cemetery.
Cllr Browne lost his battle against cancer on Sunday morning. Despite being confined to a wheelchair in recent months, Cllr Browne showed enormous physical and political courage in continuing to fulfill his role as Cashel Town Councillor.
In May, he defied his own party by personally greeting the Queen of England to Cashel, becoming the first elected and serving Sinn Féin Mayor to greet a reigning British Monarch. Cllr Browne is survived by his four sons Liam, PJ, Séan and Michéal, and daugher Breeda. Michael’s wife, Renee, predeceased him some years ago, while his brother, Eamonn, is Chairman of Munster Camogie Council and a well known Camogie referee.
Cllr Browne was also a member of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland and was a former Tipperary Camogie County Board Chairman.
A special meeting of Cashel Town Council was held on Tuesday evening in honour of Cllr Browne, at which Councillors and management paid tribute to the late Sinn Féin Councillor whose career spanned more than 20 years.
Cllr Browne also served on various committees and was a member of Joint Libraries Committee and was a Vice-Chairperson of the Joint Policing Committee. He was also Chairman of Tipperary Camogie Board 2009-2010 and had a long involvement with Cashel Camogie club. He was a team selector in 2007 when Cashel first won the All Ireland Senior Club Championship and also served as Club Chairman.
President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams led tributes to the late Mayor of Cashel. “”I want to extend to Michael’s family my deepest sympathy and condolences at this sad time. Michael Browne was first elected as a Sinn Féin Town Councillor in 1985. He served three terms as Mayor of Cashel and represented the people of the area with great commitment. An Irish republican and member of Sinn Féin for many decades, Michael believed passionately in an independent and united Ireland — a goal for which he worked with dedication. Michael had battled a serious illness for several months with great dignity. His death is a loss for his family, for the people of Cashel and for Sinn Féin.”
Long-time friend and fellow Cashel Town Councillor Dr Séan McCarthy, said Cllr Browne always put the people of Cashel above party politics. Cllr Browne showed enormous political courage by becoming the first SF Mayor to greet the Queen of England. The subject had been broached by Cllr McCarthy at the time. “I thought it was the proper and right things to do. He did it and I think he had no regrets.”
Having shook the Queen’s hand, Cllr Browne told visiting media: “I just said to her: ‘Welcome to Cashel, Your Majesty, and I hope you enjoy your stay’. No more, no less.”
One of Cllr Browne’s last duties was to greet the hundreds EU Delegates at the recent Rural Charter Meeting Festival in Cashel. “We had many alliances over the years. He was a man of tremendous integrity and his word was his bond.”
“He was very conscious of the cause of the people of Cashel. Any cause he took up, he pursued it relentlessly. He was a very fair and even-minded man,”added Cllr McCarthy.
Cllr Browne’s remains Reposed at his sister’s house, the Kearney’s residence in Clonoulty on Tuesday, from 3pm to 9pm, with Removal to Cashel today. National President of the Camogie Association, Joan O’Flynn, said: “Mickey was hugely generous in his voluntary commitment to our game. He had an avid interest in Camogie at all levels. I pay generous tribute to his extensive involvement in the administrative and playing aspects of Camogie which he combined with a very busy life as a public representative and family man”. Labour MEP Phil Prendergast also extended her sympathies. “I was greatly saddened to hear of Michael’s death. He was always a genuine and compassionate man. “