THE PARISH of Pallasgreen and County Limerick is waking up this Wednesday morning to the tragic news that Mary Harty died overnight.
Only last Thursday night the former cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council arranged an ice bucket water challenge in her home to raise awareness of the disease she so bravely battled.
Fine Gael colleague, John Egan, said she battled fiercely, but passed away earlier this Wednesday morning aged in her mid fifties.
“She was an excellent local councillor and cathaoirleach. She organised the visit of President Higgins and her speech that day will never be forgotten. I pass on my sympathies to her brother Eamonn, sisters Carmel and Siobhan, and her extended family and friends,” said Mr Egan.
Local man, Ger O’Connell, who was one of the organisers of a walk in Pallasgreen last year to raise money for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association, said the parish was “in shock”.
“She was such a young woman. She gave so much in her life and still had so much to offer. She is a huge loss. Everybody who met Mary could not but be touched by her and I pass on my sympathies to her family,” said Mr O’Connell.
Taking to Twitter, first time councillor Daniel Butler said: “Such sad news. A great lady, friend, colleague and inspiration. The reality of MND hits us today.”
Mary Hary was first elected to Limerick County Council in 1985 and according to John Egan “fought fiercely for her area”.
She was elected the third female cathaoirleach and first person from her village in 2011.
The highlight was the visit of President Michael D Higgins and her tenure was described by colleagues as “distinguished”.
She combined her political career with a her full-time job as a teacher in Nicker National School.
Only a couple of weeks after her year as cathaoirleach ended, Mary was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Despite it slowly taking her speech and mobility, she continued to serve the people of the locality until this year’s council elections.
Fittingly the last historic meeting of the Castleconnell electoral area was held in Nicker in April to honour Mary for her huge contribution to local life.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.