It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my friend, Seán Byrne former Councillor, TD and Senator and late of Tubrid, Ballylooby.
Seán came from a strong Republican background, his late father standing for Sinn Féin in 1925 in the County Council elections. Although he was unsuccessful at that time, he was co-opted in May 1926 on the death of Maurice Walsh of Ballyboy West, Clogheen.
In Seán’s first County Council election in 1967, he was elected on the 10th count. For the next four elections in ’74, ’79, ’84 and ’91 he was returned each time and headed the poll for Fianna Fáil on three occasions. In 1990 he was extremely proud when he was elected Cathaoirleach of South Tipperary County Council.
First contesting the General Election of 1977 he was beaten at the post, but at the time got a very respectable 6’412 votes.
He stood again in 1981 and was narrowly defeated. In the two elections of ’82 he headed the poll on both occasions and I was honored to be associated with his campaign where I was, along with Pat Carney, Director of Elections at what was a turbulent period in Irish Politics. While we had a small dedicated core inner campaign team, the wider support of volunteers, who in their hundreds, campaigned and knocked on doors across South Tipperary/West Waterford.
In the subsequent elections to the 18th Seanad, Seán was elected by the Cultural and Educational Panel. He did not contest the 1989 general election, but was re-elected to the 19th Seanad. In the 1992 general election he stood again in Tipperary South/West Waterford, but was unfortunately, not elected. He was appointed to the 20th Seanad by the then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds.
Seán was always held in the highest esteem by his colleagues on South Tipperary County Council and on both sides of the Houses of the Oireachtas over the years. He was always a respected, dedicated and hardworking politician in South Tipperary/West Waterford with the highest of integrity and always held the Constituency to the fore as a representative in the Dáil and Seanad. Seán assisted many people, community groups and organisations throughout his years across many strands, the people of Duhill/Ballylooby his home Parish that he loved, the Cahir Area and indeed South Tipperary/West Waterford.
Seán was always a no-nonsense, straight talking, dedicated, honourable Public Representative and will be sadly missed. To his daughters Miriam, Bernie, Claire, Olive and son Seanie, his extended family, neighbours and friends far and wide; I extend my sincere sympathy at this time of loss.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. Mattie McGrath, TD