Widespread shock at Philly's passing
THE tightly-knit community in Ballyhooly was stunned to learn of the sudden passing of respected community advocate and local election candidate Philly Leahy.
The 58-year-old dairy farmer, who was running for the Fine Gael party in the Cork County Council's Fermoy municipal area, died unexpectedly at Cork University Hospital on Sunday.
Although this was the first campaign that Mr Leahy had contested as a candidate, he had been involved in the party for decades, working closely on campaigns for politicians including Tom Barry TD, Senator Paul Bradford and the late Aileen Pyne.
Deputy Barry led tributes to Mr Leahy, saying he would be sadly missed by all who knew him.
"Phil was a very popular person, both within politics and the community. He seemed poised to fulfil a lifelong dream of becoming a public representative and it is very sad this failed to materialise," said Deputy Barry.
"Phil was involved in every political campaign over the last number of decades and he will be sadly missed by all involved. Of course, at this time of great loss, our thoughts are with his immediate family."
Senator Bradford described the late Mr Leahy as "a happy-go-lucky and positive man who always carried himself with a great sense of optimism".
"I have known Philly for almost 30-years. He was the life and soul of Ballyhooly and epitomised all that is good about community life. His interest in politics stemmed from his deep love for the parish in which he lived," said Senator Bradford.
"He would have made a wonderful county councillor because he was so involved in the community and worked on behalf of so many groups, regardless of politics. The respect in which he was held made him an effective campaigner for the Fine Gael party and anyone who had the stamp of approval from Philly was a lucky person," he added.
The mayor of County Cork, Cllr Noel O'Connor, described Mr Leahy as a "gentleman".
"I was shocked to hear of his passing as he had taken to the job of being elected in such a positive manner. He worked with many different candidates over the years and was a very popular figure within the Fine Gael party," said Cllr O'Connor.
"Philly was also a man who was devoted to his community and will be fondly remembered for the work he did on behalf of the people of Ballyhooly," he added.
The sense of shock from within that community was clearly expressed through the number of deeply felt personal messages left by local people on the dedicated Ballyhooly Facebook page.
Mr Leahy, who is survived by his wife Ann and sons William, Patrick and Philip, will be laid to rest today (Thursday) in Ballyhooley following 2pm Requiem Mass at the Church of the Nativity.