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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan] I wish to say a few words about my late neighbour from the next village across the mountain. Kilgarvan is on the green side of the mountain, whereas we are on the poorer red side. The Healy-Raes, including Jackie, and my father and the other Moynihans knew each other well for many years. Jackie bounced ideas off Dad for many years and they worked closely together in the health board, County Hall and, more recently, Dáil Éireann. Jackie Healy-Rae represented the plain people who, in his own words, had their dinner in the middle of the day. He was well known for his hard work, whether in cutting turf, with diggers or for his constituents in County Hall, the health board or Dublin. The people stood with him and saw things through with him because he put in the work in election after election from 1974 onwards and he never lost one. He was a very sharp operator as one could see in the by-election campaigns about which we have heard so much. He went on to put those skills to work locally in his own campaigns, as director of elections and a candidate. He would be very proud of the fact that not one but two of his sons are Members of the Dáil representing County Kerry. Bhí aithne againn ar Jackie Healy-Rae mar fhear grámhar, greannmhar agus an-oilte i gcursaí polaitíochta i gconaí. He will always be remembered with fondness for his hard work and great character. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I thank the Ceann Comhairle, the Captain of the Guard, the ushers and all of the staff who have afforded us this opportunity to pay tribute to my late father, Jackie Healy-Rae. I thank my brother, Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, for assisting to arrange these tributes and Deputy Mattie McGrath, the leader of our group, who spoke at the Business Committee about the matter. I thank all of the Members who spoke in such glowing terms for their praise for our father. It was clear from their intimate knowledge of the things he had done and said that those who spoke knew him very well. It is great to be here.

I express special thanks to everyone from County Kerry who travelled to be with us. My father always had the best people around him. It is quite something to think it is 22 years ago to the very day when he first took his seat in the Dáil. It is unbelievable to have these tributes being paid to him today. A lot of those who are here were here on that day too and I must thank them also. I refer to John Donoghue, Tim Coffey, Timmie O, Richie Mc, Tim Herlihy, John O'Connor, Seamus Doherty, Pat Moriarty, Noel Lucey, Brendan Hartnett, Derry Healy, Kevin Tarrant, Mike and Sean Dunne, Mike Galvin, Ruairi and James Doherty, James's partner Kathleen Cahill, Liam Fitzgerald and Noreen O'Sullivan who nursed my father when he was sick.

I must also mention the other great people who did so much for him, albeit it is dangerous to mention particular people, given the risk that I will leave someone out. There are people who cannot be here, including Dan Dawn McCarthy, Connie Doherty and the O'Donoghue family of The Gleneagle and Scotts Hotel. I am glad that we have Paudie O'Callaghan here of the Fáilte Hotel. Some people have passed on, including Maurice Galvin who travelled every inch of the country, particularly County Kerry, with Jackie. On the day my father was elected, Maurice said, "I can die a happy man now." I also refer to Pats Guerin, the BB Dens from Rathmore and the Bravos, Ned Carey and Johnny Mahoney.

I will cherish the years I had with my father, including when we lived in the pub in Kilgarvan. He was very good to me and all of my family. He was very good to Eileen and all of my lads. He adored Johnny, Pat, Dan, Maura, Elaine and Theresa, for whom he did a great deal. He has rubbed off on all of them. He liked it when they called him "Jackson" which was their name for him.

My father was successful in everything he went at, whether it was tractors in the 1950s, hackney cars or heavy machinery. He was a successful publican, auctioneer and farmer. People may not be aware that he was able to weld, mow and plough better than anyone. Work never bothered him. He could milk the cows in the morning, travel to a meeting in Dungarvan, come home and milk the cows again in the evening, after which he would go to Rathmore or Gneeveguilla for political meetings. Work was no bother to him and there was never any notion of surrender.

My father had many interests. He was a magnificent hurler, something which has been well described in the House. What I remember about him on the field is that he was faster than anyone else. What he lacked in hurling ability, he made up for in speed.

My father loved all types of music. As chairman of Comhaltas in County Kerry, he brought six county fleadh cheoil events and one Munster fleadh cheoil event to Kilgarvan. He liked many singers and artists, including Charlie Pride, Johnny Carroll, Paddy Cole, Bing Crosby, Jim Reeves and, most especially, Dermot Flynn from Lisheenbawn and Killarney.

Jackie Healy-Rae never went on holidays, but on Saturday evenings he loved to go down the town in Killarney for an hour, as he would say, to meet as many people as he possibly could. However, it was as a politician that he excelled, something about which many Deputies have spoken today, for which I thank them.

My father made an enduring name for himself across Ireland, County Kerry and many parts of the world. Imagine it is 22 years since he came here. He was so proud on that day and we were all so proud of him. He won two more elections in 2002 and 2007 and held his seat until 2011 when he was almost 80 years of age. As a family and an organisation, he gave us many opportunities to celebrate and be proud of who we were. He was co-opted onto Kerry County Council in December 1973 and headed the poll in 1974. He lit a fire in County Kerry at that time which is still burning brightly, propelling my brother, Michael, and I to win two Dáil seats in 2016 and Johnny, Maura and Jack to head the poll in three electoral areas in County Kerry on 24 May last. My father won a seat on Kerry County Council in 1979, 1985, 1991 and 1999, topping the poll on most occasions. He had massive political ability and a wonderful political brain. He was a master strategist and a charmer who was able to convince people. He had the power of persuasion. He was approachable to everyone and people confided in him. He was generous and wealth never concerned him beyond having enough to keep going. He loved people and always wanted to listen, while, of course, everyone wanted to listen to him. He has left a magnificent legacy of hard work for the people of County Kerry, for which each and every one of the people for whom he worked remembers him. It involved many small, personal and private matters right up to larger community projects. He was so proud of what he had achieved and deliverd in the Dáil, including Kenmare Hospital, the Castleisland bypass, roundabouts, Barraduff Bridge, the Kenmare relief road, SouthDoc and Killarney House which he ensured was included in the capital investment programme in late 2010. There are so many other things of which I cannot think or which I do not have the time to mention.

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