TRIBUTES have been paid to former mayor Terry Kelly, who passed away just after Christmas.
Members of Limerick City and County Council gathered to express sympathy on the death of Ms Kelly, who served as first citizen between 1983 and 1984 – one of only five female mayors.
Cllr Maria Byrne described Ms Kelly as “a very fine lady, and “a fine businesswoman”.
”She served Limerick with distinction. She follows in a long line of mayors from her family – Peter, Deirdre, who is an MEP now – and her father Tony. But obviously she was the only one who was mayor of Limerick,” said Cllr Byrne, who represented council at the funeral in Cork.
Cllr Michael Hourigan, Fine Gael, added: “I remember when she got elected to council, she was very surprised – she was not expecting it. And she was equally shocked to be elected mayor. But she was very proud of being the mayor, and of the symbolic traditions associated with the office going back.”
Councillor Kieran O’Hanlon led the tributes from the Fianna Fail bench, saying: “She was very committed to working with the business community.”
He added that when she was elected mayor, there were some people on the council who did not want a Cork woman holding the ancient office.
”But she served the office with great distinction, following on from the great example set by Frances Condell, and then followed by Jan O’Sullivan, Maria Byrne and Kathleen Leddin,” Cllr O’Hanlon added.
Labour councillor Joe Leddin was present as a young boy at the election of Ms Kelly in Limerick Courthouse, a ceremony he described as “machiavellian”.
”There was initially a Labour-Fianna Fail pact, and my late uncle Frank proposed Mick Lipper. Frank Prendergast, who also sadly died last year, seconded the nomination. Mick Lipper than rose, and said, because he had previously been the mayor, someone else should have a go in the interests of the city. He then proposed Terry Kelly,” Cllr Leddin recalled.
Cllr Byrne revealed that deal actually happened in her own front room in O’Connell Avenue.
Despite the unconventional manner of her election, Fine Gael’s Kelly “served the city with distinction,” Cllr Leddin added, expressing his regret at the low number of female first citizens in the more than 800-year history of the office.
There were also tributes from Cllrs Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein, and Paul Keller, AAA. Cllr James Collins, said: “Something that is not really acknowledged is that Terry had been ill for a number of years, and the care and support she received from her family was second to none. Chief executive Conn Murray expressed sympathies on behalf of the management of the Council.