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George did tireless work for workers and their families


George Sheehan.

George Sheehan.

George Sheehan.


The death in August of George Sheehan at the age of 74 was yet another terrible shock to the Trade Union Movement, coming just a few short weeks after the passing of his SIPTU colleague Derek Casserly.

His loss is more deeply felt by his loving wife Carmel and sons David, Raymond and Ciarán; his brothers and sisters; daughters-in-law Josie and Elaine; and his beloved grandchildren, Cathal, Jessica, Paddy, Jake, Luke and Carley; and his wider family.

George lived in Redford Park in Greystones and was born and reared in Arklow where his family lived at St. Aidan’s on the Dublin Road at Templerainey. His father John W. (known locally as Jack or Johnny) was an enterprising and successful businessman who started a grocer business at Hudson Square in 1933 and whose business expanded during the war years when he built up a flourishing export trade to England of sweetened fats which were manufactured at Hudson Square.

His business interests expanded over the years to include the very successful Sun Valley Preserves which manufactured chocolate and sweets for export; the manufacture of furs at Lower Tinahask; and a crisp factory.

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Indeed his Upper Main Street concern was second only to the Pottery factory in the number of workers employed in the town. His father, who sadly passed away at 44 when George was only 11, was long remembered locally for his sense of fairness to his workers - something George was always immensely proud of.

George attended Templerainey N.S. and CBS Arklow and then commenced employment as a clerical worker. Following this he moved to work for CIE at Pearse railway station (Westland Row). It was here that George further developed his passion for the rights of his fellow workers and he became active in his union, the ITGWU (now SIPTU).

In 1974, he became full-time official of the union commencing in the original No. 1 branch ITGWU with responsibility for Dublin dock workers. During his 33 years as an official he was branch secretary of a number of branches; Rail, Dublin Airport, Women Workers’, Contract Services and the Wicklow/Wexford area. He was involved in a number of high profile restructuring negotiations, such as Aer Lingus restructuring and the introduction of the Dart in the 1980s, and was widely respected for his deep commitment on behalf of the members he represented over the years. He retired in 2007.

He then became involved working in the Wicklow Trade Union Centre in Bray and, indeed, went on some years later to actually become chair of the board of management. George was also involved with the Bray and District Council of Trade Unions since 1988 when he was appointed as a delegate from his union. He was elected as treasurer in 1990 and served in that position until 1996. He served on the executive committee and as a trustee and as vice-president. He was unanimously elected as president of the Council in 2015 and on each of the following four years, which included the Centenary celebrations in 2017.

A deeply committed Trade Unionist and Labour Party man, he was widely respected for his work on behalf of workers and their families, and the wider community.

One of nature’s true gentlemen, similar to his colleague Derek Casserly, the Starry Plough lay proudly over him on his journey to his last resting place at Redford Cemetery after his funeral at the Holy Rosary Church.