Former senator gave a 'strong voice for Tralee'

Simon Brouder

TRIBUTES have been paid to former Kerry senator and councillor John Blennerhassett who has passed away aged 83.

Tributes have been paid to former Kerry senator and councillor John Blennerhassett who has passed away aged 83.

Mr Blennerhassett, who was one of Kerry's best known and most respected politicians sitting on the Seanad for nine years and serving as member of both Kerry County Council and Tralee Town Council over three decades, passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday.

The Ballinorig native, a long time member of Fine Gael and a lifelong trade union supporter and leader, was also credited with a major role in the foundation of Tralee's Institute of Technology.

John Blennerhassett, who served as secretary and chairman of the Fine Gael party in North Kerry, was appointed to the senate by Liam Cosgrave in 1973. Following re-election in 1977 and 1981 he served as a senator until 1982. He also contested the Dáil election as Fine Gael candidate in North Kerry in 1969, 1973 and 1977.

He served as councillor on Kerry County Council from 1974 to 1991 and sat on Tralee Town Council (then Tralee UDC) from 1967 to 1994 losing his seat at the 1994 election by only two votes. He regained his seat in Tralee as an independent in 1999 and remained on the council, as the chamber's most senior member, until his retirement in 2004.

Active in the trade union movement for 62 years, he was chairman and national executive member of both the Irish Union of Distributive Workers and Clerks and MANDATE.

In retirement he went on to became a successful breeder and racer of greyhounds.

Mayor of Kerry Fine Gael Councillor Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald described John Blennerhassett as "well respected councillor and union official who served the people of Tralee with dedication and always looked out for those less fortunate."

"Even in his retirement he was always seen as a strong and positive voice for Tralee and Kerry," he said.

Mayor of Tralee Pat Hussey of FIne Gael also paid tribute.

"He was a great and hardworking councillor and politician who was very well liked and always worked hard for the good of the town," said MAyor Hussey.

Former IT Tralee Director Dr Sean McBride said John Blennerhassett's work in helping secure a site and win IT status for the college had been vital to the foundation of ITT.

"It's a sad day for Tralee. He did everything with a great degree of fairness and honesty and he was always very determined to preserve the core of Tralee," said Dr McBride.

Arts Minister and North Kerry TD Jimmy Deenihan also expressed his sadness and extended his sympathy to Mr Blennerhassett's family and many friends.

"John Blennerhassett made a major contribution to public life. He was a tireless promoter of Tralee and of the North Kerry region. His contribution to public life will long be remembered. At this difficult time, I would like to convey my deepest sympathy to his wife Veda, his children Dawn, Grace, Norma, Honor and Ivan, his brothers Arthur and Harold, and his many family and friends both in Kerry and farther afield. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam."

Mr Blennerhassett's remains reposed on Tuesday, at the Gleasure Funeral Home, Tralee with removal after to St. John's Church, Ashe Street. Funeral Service will be held today (Wednesday) at 2.30pm.


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