Friday 22 June 2018

Seán Calleary remembered for tolerance and equality

The Irish Tricolour covers the coffin of Seán Calleary. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The Irish Tricolour covers the coffin of Seán Calleary. Photo: Steve Humphreys
John Downing

John Downing

Former TD and minister Seán Calleary had a great "respect for difference" that extended to all facets of life including politics and sport, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin recalled.

Delivering a stirring funeral oration at St Muredach's Cathedral in Ballina, Mr Martin said the former Mayo TD and junior minister at three different government departments had been a "true republican" who believed in tolerance and equality.

The Fianna Fáil leader also recalled Mr Calleary's achievements in sport, which spanned gaelic football, hurling, rugby and soccer.

As an engineering student in Galway, he won both a Sigerson Cup medal in Gaelic, and a Collingwood Cup medal in soccer in 1955, while also playing rugby with Galwegians RFC. He got around the notorious GAA "ban on foreign games" by using the pseudonym "JJ Kelly" for rugby.

Mr Martin noted that when he was finally able to use his own name for rugby, towards the end of his career, one sports journalist wrote speculatively about whether Seán Calleary could ever match the achievements of "JJ Kelly".

Mr Calleary, who died last Monday aged 86, began in Mayo politics as a Fianna Fáil county councillor in 1967 and later served as a TD for Mayo more than 19 years before retiring in 1992. He had followed in the footsteps of his father, Phelim, who was TD for Mayo from 1952-1969 and his own son, Dara, is now a TD for Mayo and deputy leader of Fianna Fáil.

Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary at the funeral Mass of his father Sean in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary at the funeral Mass of his father Sean in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys

In his homily, Bishop of Killala Dr John Fleming stressed the Christian values Mr Calleary had brought to political life.

Local councillor Annie May Reape, who was his constituency secretary for many years, recalled his gentleness, patience and ability to listen to people.

Three former taoisigh - Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny - attended as did former EU Commissioner Ray MacSharry and current Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring.

The Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher were also there. President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de-camp Capt Eoin Rochford, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar by his aide-de-camp Comdt Caroline Burke.

Darragh O’Brien, former Tánaiste Ray McSharry and Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Darragh O’Brien, former Tánaiste Ray McSharry and Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Others who attended included former ministers Brendan Daly, Ned O'Keeffe, Michael Ahern and Hugh Byrne. TDs included Niall Collins, Michael McGrath, Lisa Chambers, Pat Casey, Niamh Smith, John Curran, Shane Cassells, Marc MacSharry, Eamon Scanlon, and Darragh O'Brien.

Senator Ned O'Sullivan attended and former TDs present included Seán Sherwin, Charlie O'Connor, Jim Glennon, John Cregan, and John Dennehy.

Dara Calleary thanked everyone for their support and sympathy.

TDs Michael McGrath and Niamh Smith. Photo: Steve Humphreys
TDs Michael McGrath and Niamh Smith. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured at the funeral mass of Sean Calleary at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured at the funeral mass of Sean Calleary at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen pictured at the funeral mass of Sean Calleary at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen pictured at the funeral mass of Sean Calleary at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, Co Mayo. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Irish Independent

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