WHAT THEY SAID
Town manager Des O'Brien said that all previous staff were invited and he received some very long e-mails from previous engineers and officials Michael Phillips, Kevin Terry and Eddie Breen.
'There was a common theme,' said Mr. O'Brien. 'They said that the councillors were fantastic. Two of them said they'd never had such support or seen such dedication.'
The town manager has been working in Bray for about 13 years. He said that the thing that went through his head when he heard the town council would be abolished was 'there must be some mistake.'
He said that if there was an interview to decide which council would be abolished, it would have been Wicklow County Council.
'I found this council to be amazingly positive with very little politics,' he said. 'The people were dedicated to the town and it shows.'
Cllr. John Byrne was on Bray Town Council for 40 uninterrupted years, following his father and grandfather.
The family has had a presence on the body since 1918, coming through 34 elections, however they pre-date even that.
John's great-grandfather worked in the Town Hall building as caretaker/administrator. He lived there. 'Where the kitchen in McDonald's restaurant is now, that's where they lived,' said Cllr. Byrne. Five of their children were born there. We have lived and worked in this building since 1892,' he revealed.
'Thanks for the nice words and to the Cathaoirleach and the Town Clerk for organising this event,' he said. 'It's a sad day for local democracy that Bray Town Council has been abolished. However we are here tonight to celebrate the many achievements of the council over the years.'
Pat Vance paid tribute to all the members he has served with, in particular Cllr. John Byrne who has never failed in any election.
'The reason for that is the work rate that went in by John Byrne,' said Cllr. Vance.
He saw that former Cllr. Jane Murphy was there. 'When I was elected in 1985. I met her in Dunnes the next day and she started tutoring me on local authorities.'
He said that one thing he remembers her telling him was 'both of us are here for the community so cut out this party politics.'
Vance said he remembered that over the years. 'I've made plenty mistakes,' he said. 'So remember that wasn't me, it was Jane!'
Cllr. McManus praised the staff and officials of Bray Town Council. He said their advice and help had been invaluable.
'I always found them very responsive. Even if it didn't go my way I got a reason. We have done a lot of work over the last five years.
Cllr. McManus said that the Bray representatives on Wicklow County Council are going to have to fight for everything they will get.
Finally, paying tribute to his party colleague John Byrne, he said the councillor had been on the council since before he was born.
'I'm delighted he hung around for me to be elected!'
'It was just one of those things I wanted to do before I died,' said in a maudlin moment to groans and laughs from everyone in the room.
'Can I just say how much I've enjoyed the last five years on the council. I've made many good friends,' said Eugene. He made special mention of Margaret Cahill who has stood outside every meeting calling for reform in the fire service since the tragic death of her sister Teresa and nephew Christopher in Oldcourt in 2001.
Rossa Murray said that the past five years have been a 'rollercoaster,' He said that he didn't put himself forward for election back then but was asked to run.
'It was a blast,' he said, adding that it was a huge honour for the people of the town to put the number one beside your name.
He thanked the press, and also thanked his wife Deirdre, their children, and the Council's outdoor staff. He pointed out that the outdoor staff had made such a huge effort to keep Bray safe during inclement weather.
'By sitting at the table we all are making history here this evening,' said Cllr. John Brady. 'I believe it's for the wrong reasons. It is going to be a huge loss to the town not to have local democracy at the heart of this town.'
He said that one saving grace is that the new municipal district council will have its meetings in the same chamber.
Cllr. Brady mentioned Bríd Collins, a former Fine Gael councillor. 'When I was first elected she was the sole representative of her party and I was the sole representative of mine.'
He said that while their policies differed, he took a lot from Bríd and they were a help to each other. 'That explains everything now!' remarked the Town Manager, as Bríd laughed in the public gallery.
David Grant gave a measured and impressive response to the council chamber last Tuesday night, having given 20 years to local politics only to lose at this most recent election.
'Nobody would have expected five years ago we'd be saying farewell to bray Town Council,' he said. 'It has been a fantastic experience and was a life-changing event for me at a very young age. I am very proud of everything I have been able to contribute.'
He said that Cllr. Byrne's retirement was a historic occasion and he wished him every success. 'I don't consider him a colleague anymore. I consider him a very close friend.'
Byrne nodded his agreement.
To the Cathaoirleach, he said she had done a great job for the town in the past year having been involved in so many things and chaired meetings with fairness and discipline.
Mick Glynn said that the size of the municipal district removes the flavour of what a council can provide.
'It's a bad thing to remove representation on local level especially when people are asked to pay water and property tax,' he said.
'But we all have to agree that there hasn't been outpouring of anger from public. They haven't really supported retention of the council and that's a fair point.'
Cllr. Glynn said that the council had done a great job. 'Inch by inch and row by row of the town has been touched by the council. We've done amazing things brick by brick. I've enjoyed my time and hopefully some day I'll be back.'
Fine Gael's Sarah Wray kept it short and sweet, remarking that she had 'good times making decisions for the town.'
She thanked everyone for their guidance and debate, particularly Cllr. John Byrne whom she said is 'a wise gentleman and a good friend.'