Farewell to a straight talker
A MEMBER of Cork County Council for over 30 years, a TD for 16 years and a public representative with a cross-party reputation for honesty, integrity and dedication, was honoured at the Duhallow Park Hotel the weekend before last.Former Councillor and TD Frank Crowley had a no-nonsense approach to public service and a do-it-yourself approach to getting things don
A MEMBER of Cork County Council for over 30 years, a TD for 16 years and a public representative with a cross-party reputation for honesty, integrity and dedication, was honoured at the Duhallow Park Hotel the weekend before last.
Former Councillor and TD Frank Crowley had a no-nonsense approach to public service and a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to getting things done.
He always spoke his mind, and his work for the people of the Kanturk Electoral Area, the Cork North West constituency and further afield was recognised by a huge turnout that drew friends and supporters from throughout Cork and Munster.
The unbeatable and united team that was Donal Creed and Frank Crowley in Cork North West was held up by many of the night’s speakers – including party leader Enda Kenny – as an example of how a constituency should be run.
And, it was recalled, it was the generosity and support of Donal Creed – who was one of the guests at Frank’s farewell – that first secured a Dail seat for Frank Crowley and ensured their dominance in the constituency for years to come.
“This is an occasion about Frank Crowley,” Enda Kenny told those gathered: “It’s a time to look back, it’s a time to reminisce, it’s a time for memories; but it’s also a time to look forward and build on those foundations and project ourselves into the future.”
Enda shared early memories of both Frank and Donal in Dail Eireann when he entered those hallowed halls as a very green 17-year-old.
“I remember distinctly going up to the fifth floor and the one person who was always there consistently was Donal Creed, and he had the sleeves rolled up and a box of letters and envelopes and writing letters long hand, long before we had machines that could do it for you.”
Donal Creed, Deputy Kenny said, built more schools in Ireland than probably have been built since and the National Lottery was also initiated by the Macroom man: “And not by Fianna Fail, who have decided to hijack it as a political slush fund.”
On a light note, Deputy Kenny told the crowd: “Frank Crowley has more aunts and uncles than any person I’ve ever known.”
Frank and a certain councillor from West Cork were good friends and, for the young Enda Kenny, then party whip, partners in crime. Frank’s house was, he conceded, a long drive over, in those days, bad roads. So...
“Every Thursday they used to come to my office with the same excuse - another aunt dead - to get home early. I would say that Frank must have had 250 aunts and uncles who died in that time.”
Thanks to the Frank and Donal, and the team behind them and since them: “Cork North West is a model constituency of how to run elections - I want you to know that we value that.”
In wishing Frank Crowley a long and happy retirement from public life, Deputy Kenny concluded: “His life and his work has touched the lives of Cork North West, he gave great service, long and dedicated hours to people and to politics.”
Sitting Cork North West TD Gerard Murphy, who served for many years as Frank’s Director of Election, said: “Most of us have worked with him for many, many years over many, many elections. We have had exceptionally good times together and had exceptionally good victories together - Frank fought 13 elections and won 11.”
Prior to 1981 when the constituency of Cork North West as it is today was being formed, Deputy Murphy recalled: “We knew we had a chance for the first time in a long time to beat Fianna Fáil. We knew we could win two out of three seats, we had two supremely good candidates at that time, Frank was known in every single parish and in every single housing estate.”
There were bad years, like 1987, when there was a tremendous swing against Fine Gael on a nationwide basis but, here in Cork North West, Fine Gael, thanks to Frank Crowley, were confident that they could buck the trend – and so they did.
On a personal note, Deputy Murphy thanked Frank, in particular, for his support during the last general election campaign, and he went on to pay tribute to Frank’s wife Wynne and their children, who have been extremely supportive of Frank and the party down through the years.
And he concluded: “We are not going to let him retire completely, with his experience we will always be looking for his guidance and advice.”
Also in attendance was Euro party success story Simon Coveney, whose late father Hugh served in Dail Eireann with and was a very good friend of Frank Crowley’s.
Deputy Coveney began by noting that: “When Frank Crowley entered Cork County Council for the first time I was a week away from my second birthday! He is somebody who has been serving the people of this constituency and this district for my entire lifetime.
“When I entered Cork County Council for the first time I was still quite green in politics and I saw Frank as a senior figure, somebody who was a rock of sense and when he spoke everybody listened and I think that, in itself, sums him up. He has huge respect in Cork County Council, and particularly within the younger members.”
“16 years in Dail Eireann is fairly special,” Deputy Coveney continued: “It was a remarkable team, the Creed and Crowley team, that dominated Cork North West for such a long period of time.”
Frank Crowley is, in Simon Coveney’s words, tried and trusted, “a solid, secure, modest figure who knows what he is talking about and who isn’t afraid to share his experience.”
Responding, Frank Crowley began on a lighter note, with: “I missed a hell of a lot of funerals because Kenny was cheap!”
He expressed his appreciation of the party leader’s attendance, and of the large attendance including public representatives, party members and supporters from a large geographical area.
But there was one man specifically singled out. “It would be wrong of me to speak here tonight without mentioning one man who means more to me in politics than anyone I know, Donal Creed. I can truthfully say tonight that we never had a cross work, we never interfered with each other’s area at election time, not once. I thank you Donal for being so kind and so generous in politics to me.”
The events preceded last Friday’s election and Frank noted that it would be the first time in 50 years that there wouldn’t be a Burton or a Crowley on the ballot paper.
He looked back on the struggles of the early days and expressed hope for Fine Gael in the future; with Enda Kenny leading Fine Gael back into Government after the next general election.