Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 207 No. 7
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 8 Next Page Last Page

Senator Donie Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I welcome Mrs Bríd Dolan and her 22 family members who have come to the Chamber to acknowledge and pay tribute to a great Irishman and a great friend, Séamus Dolan. It is with great sadness that I pay tribute to Séamus, who was the oldest retired Member of the Oireachtas. Séamus, who sadly passed away last August, was older than the State itself. He survived the Civil War at home and two world wars that changed the world. He lived through the inter-continental destruction of the first half of the 20th century and the economic war with Britain that left an indelible mark on his generation.

Séamus was born in 1914 and received a scholarship to attend Coláiste Caoimhín in Glasnevin from the local national school and from there he went on to train in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, qualifying as a primary teacher in 1936. He taught in Belturbet for six years and then in Killygorman for 45 years.

Séamus was a great Irishman who was very proud of his country, its history and its language. As a fluent Irish speaker, he took every opportunity to promote the language and its use. He passed his love for Irish tradition and culture on to his family. Irish was the first language spoken in the Dolan household. I heard Séamus speaking on the telephone during the later years of life. It gave him a great lift to speak to his children in New York, who have been enormously successful, and in other parts of the world. He promoted the language and culture at every opportunity and was very involved in the running of feiseanna, particularly in Belturbet.

Séamus was very interested in local history and was fond of recounting stories, particularly of local history in County Cavan and local folklore. He was a great supporter of the GAA and was actively involved in two professional organisations, namely, the INTO and the Irish Farmers Association.

Although he was only 12 years old when the Fianna Fáil Party was founded, Séamus was a lifelong member of the party, having served it in every forum to which he was elected. From his early years he was very interested in public life and became a member of Cavan County Council in 1950, where he remained until 1986, and held a place on many of the local authority statutory committees, including the VEC. As a member of County Cavan Vocational Education Committee, he was a strong advocate of expanding educational opportunities and a strong supporter of third level education, in particular.

[356]We are all aware of Séamus’s commitment to tourism, particularly its potential in the area he consistently highlighted, County Cavan. We all remember him promoting the development of the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell Canal long before it was seen as a realistic project.

Séamus was proud to have been elected to Dáil Éireann in 1961 as a Deputy for the Cavan constituency in which he served until 1965. He went on to serve the people of Cavan and Ireland as a Senator from 1965 until 1982, but his greatest honour was still to come. In 1977 he was elected Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, a role he performed with great dignity and pride until 1981. During this time he represented Ireland with great distinction at many international conferences and in many parliaments. He attended the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe before the establishment of the European Parliament. He was chairman of cross-Border committees in the 1960s when such bodies were not as plentiful as they are today.

Following his retirement from public life, Séamus remained active in promoting the Irish language, its culture and history. He remained active on behalf of Fianna Fáil and worked in successive general election campaigns when the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith; the former Minister, Deputy Rory O’Hanlon, and others benefited from his commitment and dedication.

Séamus was truly a great Irishman. He was very proud of his country, its history and language. On my own behalf and that of the Fianna Fáil Party and all Members of Seanad Éireann, I extend our deepest sympathy and heart-felt wishes to his wife, Bríd, who was by his side many a time in this House and whom we all had the experience of meeting at election time, particularly during Seanad elections. She was as good a canvasser as any I have ever met in my time running for election to Seanad Éireann. Séamus and I fought an election on the one panel and, of course, won on that occasion.

It is lovely to see Bríd here today with her family, Bríd Óg, Anne, Séamus Óg, Sinéad, Aodh, Ruarí, Shane and Turloch, as well as extended family members and friends of Séamus. Go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire ar a anam.

Senator Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  I am pleased to pay tribute to the late Séamus Dolan on behalf of the Fine Gael group in Seanad Éireann. I acknowledge the presence of his family on what is a sad occasion for them but also an opportunity to honour Séamus’s contribution to public life. I note also the presence of his constituency colleagues, Deputy Margaret Conlon; the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith; Deputies Rory O’Hanlon and Seymour Crawford.

Séamus had a long and distinguished political career which spanned this House, the Dáil and Cavan County Council. As the Leader stated, at 95 years of age, he was the oldest retired Member of the Oireachtas and had witnessed a great deal. He had lived through the Civil War and two world wars. Perhaps it was because he had lived through so many monumental events that he was such a thoughtful and reflective parliamentarian. Colleagues on all sides of the House have told me of his diligence, commitment and common sense, traits which led him to being an effective public representative. Whether it was serving the Belturbet electoral area on Cavan County Council, representing his county in the Dáil or working as a Senator in this House, he made an effective and thoughtful contribution throughout his time in political life.

Séamus was renowned for his love of the country, its history, culture and native language. It is remarked on by those who knew him well that he used many opportunities in the Oireachtas to promote the national language. There is no doubt that the greatest political honour bestowed upon him was his election as Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, a role in which he served from 1977 to 1981 and discharged his duties honourably and competently. I extend to his wife, Bríd; [357]his sons, daughters, extended family, friends and supporters our sincere sympathy on his passing. He had many years of labour. He is now at rest. He left this House and politics a great deal better as a result of his contribution. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Senator Joe O’Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Cuirfidh mé fáilte roimh Bhríd agus roimh an chlann ar fad atá anseo linn inniu, agus roimh a chomhghleacaithe dáilcheantair, an Teachta Ruairí O’Hanlon, an tAire, an Teachta Brenda Smith agus an Teachta Margaret Conlon. Táimid anseo chun slán a fhágáil agus raiteas a chur ar an taifead maidir leis an méid atá déanta ar son na tíre seo ag Séamus Dolan. He was a Gaeilgeoir from start to finish agus aon uair a bhuail mé leis, bhí Gaeilge chun tosaigh aige and we always had a few words as Gaeilge. Na focail mholta a bhíonn againn ag uaire mar seo, níl siad chomh tábhachtach agus an méid atá ar eolas againn faoin fhear féin agus an méid atá déanta ar son tíre aige le linn na blianta fada.

Tá sé tábhachtach cur ar an taifead an méid atá déanta agus bainte amach aige mar sin féin. Born in Fermanagh in 1914, I always thought Séamus had the same solid countryman’s common sense approach to the world that I saw in the late Gordon Wilson. They were solid as a rock and one felt one would not be able to turn them around easily.

Séamus lived out the rest of his life in County Cavan, but before he went into politics bhí sé ina mhúinteoir náisiúnta agus thosaigh sé ag múineadh i mBéal Tairbirt, áit ina raibh sé an-chairdiúil le cara liom féin, Jimmy McArdle, a bhí ag an am sin mar vice president of the INTO during that period. I would have come across him at the time and acknowledge his courtesy towards me when I was a young — I was young once before I became a national treasure — INTO activist in 1981. He welcomed me to the Houses with a number of others and listened to our contributions. I cannot recall the important issue we raised at the time. It might have been the school entry age or one of the issues that arose in the early 1980s, but he gave us a great welcome, of which I was very appreciative. Is cuimhin liom ag an bpointe sin san INTO bhímid an-bhródiúil ar fad mar nuair a bhí Séamus anseo mar Chathaoirleach ar an Seanad, in the other House, bhí Pádraig Faulkner ina Cheann Comhairle. The union had the Speakers of both Houses at the time, which was an important one for us.

Séamus was elected to the county council on which he made a major contribution. He went on to become a Deputy, about which others have spoken, then a Senator and, ina dhiadh sin, Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann.

Tá sé tábhachtach é seo a rá to his family, in particular. As public representatives, we know it is not just about the commitment an individual Deputy, Senator, county councillor or Minister makes. What we understand better than anybody else is that his or her family must also make a huge contribution. Part of what we are doing involves thanking Séamus’s immediate family — his wife, children and grandchildren. We hope they will recognise the importance of the contribution he made which could not have been made without the support they gave him which was without limits and judgment. We all know that, as public representatives, we stand to be criticised. That is part of the political and democratic system and a good thing, but those of us present always recognise that even our most bitter political opponents make huge efforts, of which their extended families are part. It is important that they recognise this and that the function of democracy will fall apart if there are not people prepared to put their names on the ballot paper. Séamus’s family facilitated him in that regard, for which we say go raibh míle maith agaibh to Bríd, in particular, but also to his extended family.

I will conclude with a personal word. Séamus Dolan made a contribution as a teacher, politician and citizen. I acknowledge the courtesy he extended to me as a young unknown INTO activist as well as the pleasure I got when I navigated my boat through the Ballinamore-Ballyconnell Canal, knowing the contribution of people like him to making it happen. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

[358]Senator Alex White: Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  Ar son Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre aontaím go hiomlán leis an méid atá ráite ag na ceannairí eile mar gheall ar an iar-Sheanadóir Séamus Dolan. Ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh lena bhean, Bríd, agus lena chlann go léir.

I am honoured, on this sad occasion, to pay tribute to a former Member of the House who graced this Chamber so well over so many years. I agree with what others have said about the contribution he made to public life and to this Chamber and about his many achievements and interests. It is a sad day but also a day to reflect on someone who gave so much of his own and his family’s time to his county and to his country. As we come close to the end of this Seanad, it is important that we reflect, not only on what we are doing here and what we hope will be done in this Parliament in the future, but also on those who have gone before us and who have made a contribution to the important work of doing the people’s business.

I join others in extending my condolences to the Dolan family on the sad loss of Séamus Dolan. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Senator Dan Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  On behalf of the Green Party-Comhaontas Glas, I extend my sympathy to the family of Séamus Dolan and acknowledge his achievements as a former Member of the House. At a time when those of us in politics have shorter careers and the turnover of membership of the House is greater, those who were here before and for longer periods of time should have their contributions especially marked. From what I have learned of Séamus Dolan and of those with whom he associated politically, his particular political interest was the need for Ireland to reach out to the wider world. Coming from a part of the country where emigration was probably more marked than others, he worked both to achieve infrastructural improvements, as has been mentioned, and to further the role of Ireland as a contributor to international debate and organisations. For that he should be acknowledged.

On the other hand, we need to remember the contributions of past Members and to mark them, especially at a time when politics is at a low ebb and public affection for it is virtually non-existent. We must acknowledge the contribution of Members who were here at a time when politics was seen to deliver more effectively, partly because of their efforts and the longevity of their involvement in politics. They represent a degree of public sacrifice that is not understood or accepted in political life today and, therefore, the House should pay tribute to Séamus Dolan and those who worked with him in achieving for this country. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  I am delighted to have the opportunity to pay a brief tribute to a former Senator and Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Séamus Dolan. I welcome Bríd and the Dolan family to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery, with my constituency colleagues, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith, and Deputies Rory O’Hanlon, Margaret Conlon and Seymour Crawford. I apologise for my constituency colleague, Senator Joe O’Reilly, who wants to be associated with the tributes to the late, great Senator Séamus Dolan.

I have been a Member of this House for nine years. I am proud to be a Member of the House and I look forward to coming back here fairly soon. During those nine years, I have waited for an opportunity to correct our national treasure, Senator O’Toole. I am glad he has given me the opportunity to do so on this day, as we pay tribute to Séamus Dolan, who was born in 1914 in Gubaveeney, deep in the heart of west Cavan. While I accept that it is close to the border of Fermanagh, and I welcome Mr. Gerry McHugh, MLA, who represents Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the Northern Ireland Assembly, we are proud of the fact that Séamus Dolan was born deep in the heart of west Cavan.

Senator Joe O’Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I stand corrected.

[359]Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  I wish to honour the distinguished career of the late, great Séamus Dolan. He was a member of Cavan County Council for more than 30 years and served the people of the Belturbet electoral area with distinction before moving on to national politics in 1961, when he was elected to Dáil Éireann. Between 1965 and 1981, apart from a brief interlude, he was a Member of this House and achieved the highest honour any Member can achieve when he became Cathaoirleach, which entitled him to be a member of the Council of State and the Presidential Commission as well as other honours to which that office entitles its holders.

Séamus Dolan was only 12 years old when Fianna Fáil was founded, but he remained a loyal member of the party until his death in August of last year. I recall, as a young boy, attending Fianna Fáil meetings throughout County Cavan at which Senator Dolan was a prominent contributor. He proudly showed a Fianna Fáil membership card dating from soon after the party was founded. At the last meeting he attended of the Belturbet comhairle ceantair, when he was accompanied by Séamus Óg and Bríd Óg, he again very proudly showed that membership card. He was a proud Irishman, a great farmer and an excellent schoolteacher for more than 45 years. He served the people of his locality, his county and his country with distinction.

Again, I extend my sympathies to Bríd and to all her family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Senator John Ellis: Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  I have a distinction not shared by any other Member of the House. I served with the late Senator Séamus Dolan and had the honour of supporting his candidacy as Cathaoirleach in 1977. This is a sad day, and we welcome Bríd and the Dolan family to the House. For them, this is the closing of a chapter. His membership of the House, which lasted for more than 20 years, was as important to them as it was to him.

Séamus Dolan always saw himself as serving the ordinary, plain people of Ireland and looking after the people he knew, whether in Gubaveeney, Doobally or back in west Cavan. The only sin he committed was to move across Glan mountain and go to teach in what west Cavan people call “the other part of Cavan”, which was something we all accepted, was one of my closest colleagues when I first came to this House. Many a time he hauled me over the coals in a nice way, saying I was going a bit far and that I should take it easy because there were different ways of doing things than the way I was trying to do them. I suppose we all come here with the exuberance and ambition to change the world. We discover that we cannot change the world but we can help to make some small moves in improving society and the lot of the people we represent.

  12 o’clock

Séamus Dolan was, first and foremost, a Fianna Fáil man. Fianna Fáil was more important to him than any individual. It was the party he saw himself as representing. It represented the ordinary people who voted for him and they showed that appreciation by the number of times on which they elected him to Cavan County Council. They also elected him to Dáil Éireann and in turn, he was elected by councillors, Deputies and Senators to Seanad Éireann. He did a tremendous job as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and brought a level of dignity to the Chair that was equivalent to that brought by the present Cathaoirleach. He brought reverence to the House, which was much different than it is today. There probably was less rhetoric and more substance then and whoever conducts a review of the Seanad in future should look back to ascertain how it operated during his tenure as Cathaoirleach, because it operated in a different manner and with a different modus. This is a matter that must be examined.

I wish to be associated with the tributes to Séamus Dolan, a former colleague and close friend, of whose knowledge and wisdom I have been a beneficiary. I can only say to his wife, [360]Bríd, and to his family that it was a pleasure to have known him and to have served in this House with him. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Senator Francis O’Brien: Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  I express my sympathy with the family of the late Séamus Dolan. Séamus Dolan was a gentleman and while I did not serve with him, I knew him for many years. He was a personal friend whose company I always enjoyed. I always enjoyed meeting Séamus, Bríd and members of his family because there always was good humour and crack and of course Fianna Fáil always was at the heart of the conversation. Many speakers have referred to Séamus Dolan’s loyalty to Fianna Fáil, to farming and to his teaching career. He spent 45 years as a teacher, 30 years on Cavan County Council, as well as a number of years as a Member of Seanad Éireann, where he reached the highest post in this House, namely, that of Cathaoirleach. It is a wonderful honour for any Member to receive from their colleagues and as Senator Wilson stated, Séamus Dolan represented the Seanad and the country at different forums with distinction. He was a gentle, decent and kind man. I express my deepest sympathy to his wife, Bríd, and to the immediate and extended family. May he rest in peace.

Senator John Carty: Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  I wish to pay tribute to the late Séamus Dolan and to sympathise with his wife, Bríd, and the family. Although I did not serve in this House with Séamus, I knew him quite well during the mid-1970s when I worked in Killeshandra, County Cavan. I met him each morning as he came in to Reynolds’s post office on the main street to purchase The Irish Press, which at the time we described as the truth in the news. I then had a good interest in politics, which I of course retain, and he would tell me all that was happening in Dublin, as well as about some of the antics of the great Members from my native county. We then would go across to Jim Hayes in the Royal, where we would have a cup of tea and I would hear about everything. From that perspective, I knew him quite well and maintained my friendship with him right up to the end, as well as with his wife, Bríd, and his daughter, who accompanied him everywhere he went. He continued to attend Ard-Fheiseanna right up to the end, demonstrating his wonderful interest in politics, in Fianna Fáil and in his country, as has been stated.

Earlier, I listened to either his grandchild or great-grandchild in the Visitors Gallery, who was making a bit of noise. I recall that Jimmy Farrelly, who also died last year, told me that together with the late John Wilson, he was a great platform speaker and at a time without amplification or modern technology, they could be heard above everyone else. Consequently, it was nice to hear that child cutting his teeth in the House by making a bit of noise. Please God, the day may come when he will be a Member either of this House or the Lower House. I again extend my sincere sympathy to Bríd and the family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  I join colleagues in expressing my deepest sympathy to Bríd and the family on their sad loss. Although I knew Séamus in his later years and was honoured to get an occasional letter from him expressing his opinions on foot of a political development either in my own life or in general, which always was much appreciated, he was more a contemporary of my late father, Joseph Mooney, who also served in this House. During my growing years, Séamus already was a political legend. As Senator Ellis noted, he came from western County Cavan, which those of us from Leitrim perceive as being a neighbouring parish to our county, and this meant we had as much pride in his local and national political achievements as we would have in one of our own. He has left behind a distinguished record as a county councillor, a Deputy, a Member of the Seanad and ultimately as Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann. Everyone has pointed both to his longevity and to his lifelong loyalty to the party he represented and his pride in so doing. He was a great inspirational figure to ongoing generations and, as Senator Carty remarked, it is wonderful to see his children and grandchildren present today.

[361]Senator Donie Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  And his great-grandchildren.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  I do not doubt but that it is somewhere in the genes that one of them may achieve a similar or higher office to that of their late father or grandfather. I wished to be present today to express my solidarity with the family, in the company of my colleagues in Seanad Éireann, in expressing our deepest sympathy on the sad loss of an outstanding Irishman and patriot and a great Cavan man.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Is mian liom fáilte a chur roimh Bríd agus clann Uí Dhóláin. Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a chur in iúl dóibh, ach ag an am céanna ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl don chlann ar fad. Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ó Tuathail, níl aon amhras faoi ach gur thug an clann an-tacaíocht i gcónaí do Shéamus i ngach rud a dhein sé. Níl aon amhras faoi freisin ach gur thug sé an dea-shampla dúinn go léir. Fear díograsach, dílis a spreag sinn uilig chun a bheith dílis dár bhféiniúlacht náisiúnta a bhí ann.

Ag dul siar ar bhóithrín na smaointe, bhí daoine cosúil le Séamus Ó Dóláin i gcónaí ann agus sheas siad an fód in am an ghátair. Ní dóigh liom go raibh an Ghaeilge ná an cultúr riamh i mbaol an fhad is a bhí daoine cosúil le Séamus ann. Mar a thuigimid, tá stádas faoi leith ag an gcultúr sin i láthair na huaire, ach ní bheadh an stádas sin chomh láidir ach amháin gur thug daoine cosúil le Séamus Ó Dóláin faoi, gur dhein siad iarracht agus gur thug siad gach cabhair do ghach eagras a bhí ag saothrú an chultúir Ghaelach. Ag an Fleadh Cheoil sa Chabhán anuraidh, bhí ainm Shéamuis Ó Dóláin i mbéal an phobail mar thug sé an-chabhair do Chomhaltas CeoltóiríÉireann nuair a bunaíodh an ghluaiseacht sin siar i 1951. Chabhraigh Séamus gach uair a bhí cabhair ag teastáil agus bhí a fhios ag na daoine a bhí ag freastal ar an bhFleadh Cheoil go raibh an scéal sin amhlaidh.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of being invited to Cavan to make a presentation to Séamus on behalf of his colleagues and friends. On that occasion, I realised the great affection that existed there for Séamus. It was evident that locally as well as nationally, people appreciated the great effort he had made down through the years. It is important to state that it was not always easy to make those efforts and an element of selflessness and sacrifice always was required. Sacrifice was required on the part of the family as well. Having met Bríd and the other members of the family I saw they all worked as a team on all occasions.

Later today we will debate the commemoration of 1916. We all refer to the leaders of 1916 and the great men and women who participated in that great historic event. Séamus Dolan was that type of person as well. People of his generation made no apology for being Irish, having a distinctive culture of our own and taking a stand whenever it was necessary.

Many tributes have been paid to him as a member of the Oireachtas and the role he played at national level in other forums. I always think the impact any individual makes within his or her community is the greatest test of a person. If one is a prophet in one’s own land, one has done what the people require. I have no doubt that in the future his name will always be remembered whenever our national identity is centre stage. Is mian liom mo chomhbhrón a chur in iúl don chlann. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal dílis.

Senator Ann Ormonde: Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  I would also like to be associated with the many fine tributes to the late Séamus Dolan. I did not know him but I knew all about him because in the 1960s with my late father, Séan Ormond, he was contesting Seanad elections on the Labour Panel. As they were both teachers their nominations were disputed and it was argued that as members of the INTO they did not qualify for the nomination. However, the court overruled the decision and they both ran on the Labour Panel.

[362]I heard about his contributions many times at the dinner table. I heard about his commitment to the Irish language, to education, through his role in the VECs, and to public life. I heard many stories when I was a young girl and thought about them today. I knew all about him in the early 1960s. He had huge commitment to the party and never failed to give of his best to our party and country. I am glad to be here to acknowledge the presence of his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  Like Senator Ormonde, I did not know Séamus Dolan but I knew of him. I heard so much about him over the years and I am sorry I never, to the best of my knowledge, had the opportunity to meet him. I am speaking to encourage the next generation to take note of what is being said and feel pride in it, and also to record what is said for future generations. The words used will be available to the family on tape and I hope they will be treasured and recognised as a memory of a man who was one of the creators of the State.

Séamus Dolan was born in 1914 and was only six or seven when the State was established, although at that age he may not have taken note of the fact. During the week I spoke to my mother in law who was born in 1909 and celebrated her 101st birthday a few months ago. She was able to talk about when she was six in 1916 and can remember things about it. Séamus Dolan may not have remembered the establishment of the State at six years of age but he was 12 years of age when Fianna Fáil was established and would have remembered that.

I was disappointed to learn from Senator Wilson that the other link I had to Séamus Dolan was incorrect. I understood he was born in Blacklion in Fermanagh. One of my earliest memories was my first ever visit to Croke Park for the all-Ireland football semi-final in 1943. I went on my father’s bicycle. The match was Cavan versus Cork and as a six-year-old I was very enthusiastic about everything in Croke Park.

My father came from County Down, which is why I had a link with the North of the Border. He told me to cheer for the men in blue on the Cavan team because they were from Ulster and not to cheer for the men in red because they were from Munster. I remember it well and when I later met a number of those who played on the teams I was able to tell them the story. I learned about Séamus Dolan over the years but assumed he was from Fermanagh and that there was a link with my father on that basis.

I am in the Chamber to learn even more and have learned a lot more today. I want to encourage the following generations to remember the wonderful record Séamus Dolan established for the nation. He put a lot of work into that life. Tributes have been paid to him regarding the time he spent in both Houses. His contribution to education and love of the Irish language are examples that we set for ourselves and we as a nation should remember and record them.

I read a lovely O. Henry story many years ago about a woman who received an invitation to go to her funeral which was to take place in her house. She was old, perhaps not as old as Séamus was, but when people arrived at the funeral she met them at the door. They told her they thought it was her funeral and she told them she would not miss it for anything and wanted to hear the chat. I am sure Séamus Dolan is listening to the tributes today. He is not here but it seems a shame that we cannot pay tribute and congratulate a person, as well as talk about his or her memories, when he or she is still around.

Bríd and the family should be proud of him, as we are, as somebody who gave his life to create the State we now have. The contribution he made, whether to Fianna Fáil, education, the Irish language or the government and legislation of the country, clearly set an example for many others. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

[363]Senator John Hanafin: Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  My father was a friend of the late Séamus Dolan. When he first came to Leinster House, Séamus was a senior party man who my father looked up to. My father tried to express to our family when he came home the kind and genial people his colleagues were. I remember him speaking kindly of Séamus Dolan. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  I would also like to be associated with the tributes paid to the late Séamus Dolan. As mentioned, he was a Member of this House from 1965 until 1982. He also served in Dáil Éireann from 1961 until 1965. He was elected Cathaoirleach of the Seanad in 1977 and was Leas-Chathaoirleach from 1981 until 1982. He was a national school teacher and farmer before going into politics and was an advocate of the Irish language. I recall well meeting him and his wife, Bríd, during the Seanad election campaigns of 1977 and 1981 and had the honour of voting for him at the time. His funeral mass will continue to remain in my memory for a long time. It was a beautiful mass as Gaeilge.

On behalf of the staff and all Members of Seanad Éireann, I extend sincere sympathy to Séamus’s wife Bríd, his sons, daughters and extended family who are here today on their very sad loss.

Members rose.

Sitting suspended at 12.25 p.m. and resumed at 1 p.m.


Last Updated: 28/06/2011 19:02:39 First Page Previous Page Page of 8 Next Page Last Page