Thursday 22 March 2018

Tributes pour in for Tommy

Sadness in south Sligo at the passing of well known businessman and former Sligo County Councillor Tommy Lavin

Paul Deering

Tributes have poured in to the late Thomas 'Tommy' Lavin, well known Ballymote businessman and County Councillor who passed away peacefully last Tuesday night at North West Hospice.

The late Mr Lavin operated the well known Lavin's Mens and Sportswear store on the town's Lord Edward Street and was also a long serving member of Sligo County Council representing the Fine Gael party.

He was chairman of the Council in 1984 and 1992 having been first elected in 1963. He was also the first lay chairperson of the VEC.

Mr Lavin's funeral Mass took place on Thursday at 12 noon at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Ballymote with burial afterwards in St. Columba's Cemetery.

There was a large attendance at both the Removal the evening before and funeral which was testimony to the high regard which the late Mr Lavin was held.

Cathaoirleach of the Council, Councillor Hubert Keaney described Mr Lavin as 'one of the most respected and experienced councillors in the authority's history.

"He was widely admired for his trojan work on behalf of the Ballymote community, and in his later years he was a father-figure to many young councillors finding their way in local government.

"He had the distinction of serving as Cathaoirleach in 1984 and 1992 and as Leas Cathaoirleach in 1979 and 1991. He gave exemplary service to this Council for 36 years, and this should be a great source of pride to his family at this difficult time."

In 1957 Mr Lavin had opened the now famous Lavin's draper's shop in Ballymote.

Mr Lavin was co-opted on to the council in 1963 at the age of 35, replacing the late Eddie Boles. At that time the council met on a Saturday at Sligo Courthouse.

In an interview in 2000 published in the Council's Centenary History, Mr Lavin, then retired as a councillor, said that when he became a councillor at such a young age he never thought he would go on to become the father of the council.

"I know this sounds like a contradiction; at one level it was a relief to retire from politics but I still miss it.

"Even now I expect the door bell to ring at all hours of the night. It was the nature of the work that your time was never your own but I loved every minute of it."

He added: "By and large I found people very fair to deal with. They knew when they came to you with a problem you gave it your best shot and they could ask no more."

The late Mr Lavin highlighted in the interview how vast improvements were made during his time as councillor in road and housing infrastructure in the Ballymote area.

In particular he mentioned rural water schemes and the improvement they made to people's lives and a big boost for the Ballymote area was getting its supply from Lough Talt which replaced the one coming from Ballinacarrow lake which he said "you couldn't wash clothes in it, let alone drink it."

Mr Lavin was well regarded in the Fine Gael party and he played a vital role at general election time. He also ran twice in the General Election in Sligo/Leitrim for the party in 1982 (November) and 1987 but was unsuccessful.

Deputy Tony McLoughlin has also paid tribute to the late Mr Lavin. He said Taoiseach Enda Kenny was a close friend and visited Mr Lavin at the North West Hospice last Friday week during his visit to Sligo.

The late Mr Lavin, is survived by his wife, Carmel and his passing is also deeply regretted by his sons Dominick and John, daughters Ann (Kilcoyne), Mary (McCarthy), Margaret (Mullaney), Bernie (Burke) and Fiona (McGill), daughter-in-law, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, brother Jimmy (Swinford) and sister Margaret (Porter, Ballymote), nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and many friends.

Sligo Champion