Tributes paid to former Birr Councillor

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john.ocallaghan

Tributes have been paid to the former Chairman of Birr Town Council, Tony McLoughlin, who died on Monday at Birr Community Nursing Unit.

Tony was one of Birr’s best known citizens and was renowned for his work in promoting Birr and its environs. He was a tireless worker for groups like the local Tidy Towns and his contribution to the community over recent decades was second to none.

He served for 20 years on Birr Town Council, topping the poll on each occasion he was elected, and also served for 10 years on Offaly County Council.

Speaking both in a personal capacity and as Chairman of Birr Municipal Council, Cllr John Carroll extended deepest sympathy to the family of Tony McLoughlin whose passing caused such genuine sadness all over the town and hinterland on Monday evening as word spread of his death.

“Tony was a legend, his contribution and participation in the political, sporting, cultural, environmental life of Birr would take pages to chronicle. He was truly a man of the people, a gentleman to his fingertips, a man of integrity in politics, an unwavering commitment to his Church, always dedicated to the welfare of the weakest and vulnerable in Society but above all a family man.

“For me it was a privilege to have served alongside Tony for all his years in the Council Chamber both on Town and County Councils, where the welfare the town and its people were his only concern. As first citizen of Birr on a number of occasions he always acted in a dignified manner and was always conscious of his role as Ambassador for the town.

“It was J.F. Kennedy who said ‘Ask not what your Country can do for you but what you can do for your Country’ and that summarised Tony’s philosophy on his life as a citizen of Birr.

“We extend our sympathy to his wife Mary, his sons Joe, Stephen, John, daughters Dolores, Patricia, Anne and Maureen, his grandchildren and extended family.

“Nil feicfimid de leithead aris. Go ndeana Dia trocaire ar an anam dilis.”

Cllr Peter Ormond also paid tribute to Tony McLoughlin. Cllr Ormond stated that he had the honour of serving with him on Offaly County County Council from 2004-2014. “During his time in Offaly County Council, he served the people of the Birr Electoral District with great pride and honour and always did what was in the best interest of the people. He has left behind a great legacy in the town and his work and commitment to the town will always be remembered.” Cllr Ormond conveyed his sympathies to his wife Mary and family.

Deputy Barry Cowen expressed his condolences to Tony McLoughlin’s family on his death. “He was a loyal friend, colleague and champion for Birr,” said Deputy Cowen.

In recent years, Tony was to the forefront in working with Birr Tidy Towns, who also paid tribute to him this week.

“It is with great sadness that we learned the passing of Tony McLoughlin today. Tony was one of the founding members of Birr Tidy Towns, founded in 1984. Tony played an instrumental role within our town of Birr over the years serving as a local Town Councillor. Tony was always on hand and was never off duty. Tony was a gentleman with Birr Tidy Towns close to his heart and it was not unusual to see Tony walking around the streets and parks of Birr accompanied by Millie by his side picking up litter and making sure our town was always clean and tidy. We cannot put into words how much work Tony has done not just for Birr Tidy Towns but for the people of Birr. We extend our sympathy to Tony’s wife Mary, sons John, Stephen and Joe, daughters Dolores, Patricia, Anne and Maureen, sons and daughters in law and grandchildren. We thank Tony for all his hard work down the years and will be dearly missed by Birr Tidy Towns, May Tony’s soul rest in peace.”

Tony McLoughlin was born in Pound Street in 1935 and he was an only child. He was the son of Paddy and Eileen (nee Isaacson from Church Street, Birr). After his birth his mother and father moved to a house in Fairview.

He was schooled by the Presentation Brothers in Birr. After leaving school Tony began working in Birr Shoes in 1950 and was there until 1966.

In 1966 he got a job in Birr Moquette factory (textile factory) and was there for three years.

In 1969 a job came up in the ESB and it was a transformation after being indoors for 19 years because he was now working in the outdoors and he worked with them up until his retirement in 2000. That job took him over a wide area and the workmen were on the road quite a bit.

Tony also used to work part-time in the cinema on Brendan Street before it closed.

Tony married Mary Harte on August 7, 1961 and they had three sons, John, Stephen and Joe and four daughters, Dolores, Patricia, Ann and Maureen.

Sport and cinema were among his main hobbies. He enjoyed playing handball and he won the junior and intermediate championship in Offaly and represented Offaly in handball at junior level. He was also involved with the local GAA club and for a time was a regular steward in Croke Park when clubs provided that service.

Tony was also a very good table tennis player and he enjoyed tennis. He also regularly playing snooker in the CYMS (Catholic Young Men’s Society).

His first experience of politics was canvassing during two local elections for independent runner Johnny McCormack back in the 1960s. His grandfather, Anthony, was also a member of the Council around 1900.

Tony decided to run for a Birr Town Council seat back in 1994 and he did stunningly well winning about 500 votes with his nearest rival being about 300 votes behind him. After that Tony topped the Birr Town Council poll in four consecutive elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009. He served as chairman of the Council on a number of occasions.

He also served as a County Councillor from 2004 until he stepped down at the last elections in 2014. During that time he also served on a number of committees.

Tony told this paper in an interview in 2012 that “In politics you have to have a social conscience and you have to be very tolerant. You are constantly being bombarded with people’s problems and you do your best to solve them. It’s not always possible to solve them but you do your best. I’d say I’ve had a pretty good success rate with finding solutions to people’s issues. Being a councillor is like a vocation because you are serving the community and working for its betterment.”

Tony was a union representative for many years and was a member of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. As a union rep he was involved in a lot of work disputes over the years and appeared many times in labour courts.

He has been a key member of Birr Tidy Towns for over three decades and was delighted to see so much enthusiasm for the movement in Birr in recent years.

Tony never owned a car and used a bicycle to get around for over 60 years. In that 2012 interview he said “When you are on a bike you see everything, you miss nothing and you can talk to people.”

Tony’s remains will be reposing at Boyd’s Funeral Home, Birr on this Wednesday from 2.30pm-5pm, with removal at 5.30pm to arrive at St Brendan’s Church, Birr at 6pm. Funeral Mass on Thursday at 1pm followed by burial in Clonoghill Cemetery, Birr.

Deepest sympathy is extended to wife Mary, sons John, Stephen and Joe, daughters Dolores, Patricia, Anne and Maureen, sons and daughters in law, twenty one grandchildren and a wide circle of friends on their loss.

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