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My father Des O’Malley, the statesman

Eoin O’Malley


Des O’Malley was at the heart of politics for two decades, at great personal cost. He wasn’t a natural leader, or driven by power, but he was a pragmatist who served us well

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Des O'Malley pictured in 1991 when he was minister for industry and commerce

Des O'Malley pictured in 1991 when he was minister for industry and commerce

Des O'Malley leads a Progressive Democrats press conference in 1989

Des O'Malley leads a Progressive Democrats press conference in 1989

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Des O'Malley pictured in 1991 when he was minister for industry and commerce

My father’s life was longer and more turbulent than he expected. Born before the war — a pre-war baby, he liked to say — his description of his childhood, possibly exaggerated for effect, sounded more like a 19th century one rather than anything his children could relate to.

Born into a large house in Limerick city, he was from a middle-class family that had gone from a small farm in rural east Limerick, via a pub in Limerick city, to being among the professional classes and city fathers in just a few generations. He was raised by a nanny, whose cooking he would refer to frequently. He travelled to school, the Crescent, by pony and trap, where he excelled academically, and there was an expectation that Des would go to university, like all the men in his family.


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