Saturday 24 August 2019

Obituary: John Browne

Former TD for Carlow/Kilkenny will be widely missed

Letter writer: John Browne was a keen correspondent and his letters were published in the ‘Sunday Independent’
Letter writer: John Browne was a keen correspondent and his letters were published in the ‘Sunday Independent’

Charlie Keegan

John Browne, the former FG deputy for Carlow/Kilkenny who died earlier this year, will be remembered as a politician, school principal, community leader, sportsman and family man.

He came from a farming background in Kilmihil, Co Clare, where he was born in October 1936.

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After secondary education at St Flannan's College, Ennis, he did teacher training at St Patrick's in Drumcondra and started at Tinryland National School, Carlow, in July 1957. In 1962 he became principal at neighbouring Bennekerry NS.

He entered public life in the local elections of 1979 and won a seat for Fine Gael on Carlow County Council, remaining until 2004.

He contested the general election of June 1981. He was unsuccessful though his Carlow running mate, FG deputy Des Governey, was returned.

Following his nomination to the Seanad by Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald in 1983, he served as Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council in 1986, with an eye to the upcoming general election of 1987.

Des Governey had died in 1984 but with FG support leaking to the fledgling PDs, his 4,390 first preferences were not enough for a Dail seat in 1987.

The political worm turned when he was elected to Dail Eireann in the June 1989 general election.

At that stage he relinquished his position as principal of Bennekerry NS after 27 years. He held his Dail seat at the elections of 1992 and 1997.

Following his re-election in 1992, he was elected vice chair of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and made opposition spokesman with responsibility for the aged.

In April 2001, he said he would not be contesting his seat at the next election.

During his time in the Dail and Seanad, John Browne made many contributions across a wide spectrum of issues, particularly education.

His letters often featured in the Sunday Independent and he once won Write a Short Story in Six Words in the Irish Independent.

A believer that all politics is local, he maintained close contact with his grassroots support through his community activism and involvement with Palatine GAA.

He was a long-serving member of the South Eastern Health Board, a leader of FG on Carlow County Council and a member of ACOT in Carlow, formerly the County Committee of Agriculture.

An avid Gael, he won a Carlow senior football championship with O'Hanrahans in 1961, playing wing half forward when the Blues defeated Carlow Town rivals Eire Og. He threw in his lot with Palatine when he went to live and work in the Bennekerry club's heartland.

In 2009 he edited and published the centenary publication The Century Book of Palatine GAA.

He was a keen follower of hurling - his grandnephew Jack Browne is a defender with the Clare senior hurlers.

John Browne was married to the former Nancy Looney, who survives him, along with daughters Carmel, Deirdre and Geraldine, son Fergal (a former Senator) and sisters Maura and Josie.

John Browne, born October 1, 1936 - died March 27, 2019.

Sunday Independent

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