Drogheda Independent

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Louth mourns death of Padraig Faulkner


(Above) Padraig Faulkner with his son Tom and grandson Padraig.

(Above) Padraig Faulkner with his son Tom and grandson Padraig.

(Above) Padraig Faulkner with his son Tom and grandson Padraig.

DUNLEER lost its most famous son with the death of former minister and Ceann Comhairle Padraig Faulkner at the age of 94 last Friday.

He was one of the foremost political figures in the country for a generation and was first elected to the Dail in 1957, after being encouraged by Eamon de Valera to do so, and went on to hold a number of ministerial positions until his retirement in 1987.

He served as a minister in a number of portfolios, including the Gaeltacht, Education, Post and Telegraphs, Tourism and Transport and Defence.

Born on March 12 1918, the son of a farmer at Trean, he attended Dundalk CBS before going on to St. Patrick's College of Education in Drumcondra, qualifying as a teacher.

Growing up in Dunleer, where his love of politics began, courtesy of his parents, he stood for the Dail for the first time, unsuccessfully, as a 36-year-old Fianna Fail candidate in 1954.

After that he would help shape generations to come. He smoothed the path to free education, urging the need for more teachers and school transport, he brought in the laws that saw An Post and Telecom Eireann founded and helped bring the telephone into many, many rural homes as he backed European policy in this regard.

And, as transport minister, he saw that the DART was delivered, despite mixed political support. It remains one of his greatest legacies.

When he was Minister for Education from July 1969 to March 1973 he was the originator of the Regional College concept, which has since made such a significant and vital contribution to the development and expansion of education in Ireland.

When he retired 25 years ago he became an even bigger part of the community in his beloved Dunleer.

He did a lot of research on its past and with son, Tom, the former principal in Dunleer NS, put a lot of the information down in electronic form for future generations.

He also wrote a book on his life, released in 2005.

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin paid tribute to Padraig's career, stating he was 'a stalwart of the Fianna Fáil Party who gave a lifetime of commitment.'

'He was a proud Louth man and a great gentleman of Irish politics. In his time, Pádraig Faulkner made a massive contribution to his constituency and our country. Pádraig was a man of decency, of good humour and of integrity.

'He was a politician of great intelligence, ability and dedication,' he added.

Even during his retirement he recalled meeting the Dunleer man at various functions, ' where he was quick to offer an encouraging word and a broad smile'.

'Pádraig Faulkner was a shining example of all that is good in public service.

'He will be sadly missed by his many friends and admirers.'

He is survived by his beloved wife Kitty, family Tom, Bartle, Pat and Mary, sister Theresa Clare, sons-in-law, daughters-inlaw, nephews, nieces and grandchildren and a wide family circle.