Councillor Tommy Cullen says 'goodbye to all that'
'I'm grateful to have drank tea at nearly every kitchen table in west Wicklow,' laughs Cllr Tommy Cullen, reflecting on his 35 years of public service as a councillor of Wicklow County Council.
Cllr Cullen's father, who was also named Tommy, was a west Wicklow man who taught his son all about sowing potatoes, as he worked as a farmer for all of his life.
Tommy Cullen junior, is looking ahead to his retirement, although he doesn't like to use the word, and hopes to give back to nature.
'It's a change in direction certainly, but I'll keep quite busy,' said Cllr Cullen.
He plans on getting out in the garden, describing gardening and the growing of organic crops as a real passion of his which he sees as very therapeutic for people.
Cllr Cullen also has a number of ongoing community projects, which he'd like to see through to the end.
He is particularly interested in wild life, and has a deep interest in the natural world focusing on preserving animals and birds, particularly the red squirrel and the Irish hare.
Cllr Cullen grew up in a socialist political ethos, which he kept with him all his life believing in fairness and equality.
'My mother Margaret was a founder member of the Labour party in England, and in 1979 up to 2002, I was an active member of the Labour party in Ireland,' said Tommy Cullen, particularly admiring Wicklow TD, Liam Kavanagh.
His parents were also involved in the trade union movement, and he took inspiration particularly from his mother's side of the family.
'I've given a life time of public service, since 1985, and over the years thousands of people have come to me needing help with housing, planning, medical assistance, roads and the environment,' he said.
'I've been very fortunate in terms of the loyal support I've gotten throughout my time in local politics,' said Cllr Cullen.
His highlights from over the years include serving as Chairman of Wicklow County Council, securing an Ambulance base service in Baltinglass and also serving for many years as Chairman of the Councils Housing Committee
He takes particular pride in chairing the Save Glen Ding committee in Blessington, which had the 'Keep the Glen Open' campaign that prevented the closing of walking routes in the Glen of Imaal to the mountains and the area being turned in to a landfill site.
Cllr Tommy Cullen takes pride in the fact that he was often fearless, never backing down from something he believed in and often using his own money to finish out a cause.
'Politics has cost me a lot because I put my money where my mouth is, but now the future is bright,' said Cllr Cullen, who plans to make himself available for help and advice from other candidates going forward in the future.
'My door is always open and will continue to be, and I want to thank the people of west Wicklow for all of their support and the great kindness shown to me,' said Cllr Cullen.
Cllr Cullen added that he is appreciative of his fellow councillors, particularly Leas Cathaoirleach Pat Doran, a great long term friend to Cllr Cullen who was first elected in the same year.
Tommy Cullen looks forward to saying 'goodbye to all that,' and spending time with his wife, his two children and two grandchildren, whom he prefers to keep out of the public eye.