Denis loved his family, his county and his native town

The late Denis Foley RIP.
The late Denis Foley RIP.

The late Denis Foley


DENIS FOLEY, St. Joseph's, 2 Staughton's Row, Tralee, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Saturday, October 26 in the Bon Secours Hospital, Tralee.

Denis, who was born in Tralee in 1934 to William and Margaret Foley (nee O'Riordan), was a much loved only son to his parents and brother to Mary and Peggy all of whom predeceased him.

Denis received his education in the Christian Brothers National School in Edward Street, Tralee C.B.S. The Green and the Central Technical College, Tralee. Following his education, he began his working career with Latchford & Sons, the Mall, Tralee, where Hanna O'Halloran from Ballyheigue who would eventually become his wife.

He left Latchfords to take up a position with Tralee UDC as a Rent/Rate collector. In 1966 the Brandon Hotel opened and Denis was invited to become the Ballroom and Events Manager.

A man with an extraordinary work ethic, by day he continued his work with Tralee UDC and by night he managed the Brandon Ballroom and so began his long association with the music bands of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. As a booking agent Denis brought bands not just to The Brandon but to parish halls the length and breadth of the county. The Kerry Blues, The Freshmen, The Indians, Brendan Boyer, Red Hurley, Dickie Rock, The Royal Showband - he booked them all and more!

In the 1970s Denis purchased The Central Hotel, Ballybunion, in partnership with others and it too became a mecca for the country's top showbands. In those halcyon days the sun always shone, and Ballybunion became the county's holiday destination of choice.

Denis was a huge sports enthusiast. A member of Kerins O' Rahilly's GAA club, he played on the 1953 team that won the Town Championship, making it one of the most memorable years in the club's history. His love of the club never waned and he served as a club officer for a number of years, rarely if ever missing a club convention and always making astute and insightful contributions to debates and discussions.

Denis was also very interested in basketball, a sport he loved and promoted all his life. He was a keen player with the C. Y.M.S team in Tralee, and afterwards served as Secretary and later Chairman of the Kerry Area Basketball Board. Denis also served as President of the Irish Amateur Basketball Association from 1972-1974 and has the distinction of being the only Kerry person to ever hold this position.

In the late 1970s Denis received the Hall Of Fame from the National Basketball Association in acknowledgement of his enormous contribution to basketball both at local and national level.

Horse racing was another great passion and Denis loved nothing more than a day out at a local racecourse or perhaps the Curragh, Fairyhouse or, indeed, further afield to Cheltenham.

A coursing enthusiast all his life, he had a huge interest in greyhounds and, of course, one could not forget card playing, an activity which he enjoyed immensely and at which he excelled.

As a child Denis resided at 6 Day Place, Tralee, the Headquarters of Fianna Fail in North Kerry.

Few but Denis could say and mean it that they were literally and metaphorically born into Fianna Fail.

To the day he died he loved the party and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the organisation, having served on the Governing body of Fianna Fail for many years and indeed representing the party locally and nationally.

In 1979 Denis was elected to Kerry County Council and remained on the local authority until the introduction of the dual mandate in 1999, serving as council chairman on two occasions 1983-84 and 1993-94.

In 1981 Denis was elected to Dail Eireann and served in the Oireachtas, including a two year stint in the Seanad, until his retirement in 2002. During his political career and indeed before it, Denis served on a wide variety of boards and community committees, including Kerry County Library, Tralee and Fenit Harbour Commissioners, Cork/Kerry Tourism, Kerry County Fisheries, Tralee Tourism, The County Fair, Tralee Junior Chamber, Tralee Development, and Cumann Iosaef to name but a few.

Denis was always on the go, keen to advance change, and effect improvement in the lives of others and in the community as a whole. People trusted him completely with their confidences and he was never found wanting. A quiet man with a gentle disposition, people always seemed drawn to him. This was due in no small measure to the fact that Denis' word was his bond and everyone knew it. He fulfilled every obligation he ever undertook and he thrived on a spirit of service to others. Mother Teresa once remarked that the value of one's life is directly related to the number of people they positively affect. The huge turnout both at Denis' Removal and Funeral Mass was testament to the highly significant impact he had on so many lives and indeed on the community itself.

Faith and family were of immense importance to Denis. Growing up in Day Place, Tralee in the shadow and protection of The Holy Cross Church, he had a particular affection for the Dominican Order. A life-long Pioneer, he was also heavily involved with the C.Y.M.S. and this drew him into the life of St. John's Parish, Tralee. In his students days Denis worked as a volunteer at Knock Shrine and maintained a strong faith in our Lady of Knock and indeed Our Lady of Lourdes right up to his death.

His children describe him as an extraordinary father never having had a cross word with any one of the four of them. He was adored and loved by each one of them and he and Hanna ensured that their lives were filled with affection, stability and happiness. Denis loved his wife Hanna with every bone in his body and referred to her as "the best woman in the world". They were friends and partners for 48 years and an example of marriage and fidelity to each of their four children.

Denis is survived by his wife Hanna, son Billy, daughters Margaret, Norma and Denise, his beloved grandchildren, sons in-law, daughter in-law, relatives and many, many friends.