Published 26/09/2010 | 05:00
JOHN Fitzgerald went from managing the capital city throughout the boom to spearheading Limerick's multimillion euro regeneration project.
From a small farming background, he grew up in a Co Limerick village at the foot of the Galtee Mountains. After his Leaving Cert, he got a job in the Revenue Commissioners. He studied by night to qualify as an accountant. He later worked at Chadwick's Builders Providers in Dublin and Cork.
Fitzgerald then moved to Cork Corporation, where he had his first taste of city management. He went on to Dublin Corporation as city treasurer. He rose to assistant city manager and subsequently manager of South Dublin County Council.
He became city manager of Dublin City Council (DCC) in June 1996. The construction boom and the matching economic upsurge gave him an annual budget of €2bn to work with and a staff of 6,000.
The city was being transformed by development, from tic-tac box apartments to grand projects and landmark buildings. Under his management, O'Connell Street was modernised into a sleek boulevard, slum blocks of council flats were rebuilt and the docklands and other formerly derelict areas of the city centre were transformed.
He left DCC in 2006. His next challenge, taken on in 2007, was the Limerick regeneration project. Moyross, Southill and other sprawling housing estates were to be transformed but the challenging economic situation has forced a drastic slim-down of the original €3bn plan and building work has yet to start. Fitzgerald is a passionate advocate of the full plan going ahead to rescue the area.
He chairs the National Transport Authority and An Post and the Grangegorman Development Agency. He is on the board of the HSE.
His name has been mooted as a possible candidate for Mayor of Dublin.