Fine Gael councillor Tom Farrell bid farewell to the gold chain at Tuesday’s meeting of Athlone Municipal District.
Cllr Farrell opened Tuesday’s meeting by addressing the chamber for the final time as mayor. He spoke briefly to thank his fellow councillors and the general public for the support he received throughout the year. He also spoke of the challenges he faced while undertaking the office.
He listed the opening of the Greenway by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, something he referred to as a “key development for the Midlands”, as a particular standout moment. He expressed his hope that the next section of the amenity will receive funding this year.
He reflected on the challenge that the recent major flooding incident brought with it, and commended all the agencies and volunteers that worked together to ensure damage did not reach that of 2009 levels, despite the Shannon reaching record heights.
He also referenced securing funding for the rejuvenation of Church Street, the opening of Moate Library, and the establishment of Destination Athlone as highlights.
Finally, he addressed the boundary issue. In doing so, Cllr Farrell said he never wished to cause any offence to “our neighbours” in Roscommon, nor did he ever intend to undermine their identity. Rather, he said the call was simply taken from an administrative viewpoint. He said he hoped Roscommon people in the Monksland area could continue to identify themselves as such while accepting being administered from Athlone, but acknowledged that only time will tell.
It was then the turn of the councillors. Fianna Fáil councillor Frankie Keena, said Cllr Farrell had done an “excellent” job for the district, and commended him for the fairness he exercised in the chamber in ensuring each councillor had an equal opportunity to speak. He noted that the outgoing mayor attended every function and event required of him, giving so much of his time in the process.
Fianna Fáil councillor Aengus O’Rourke remarked that Cllr Farrell had carried out his duties “with honour and dignity”. He said that some people may be unaware of the amount of time the role of mayor demands, but as a councillor he understands and appreciates it fully.
Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hogan, praised the role Cllr Farrell played in the planning of commemorations of the 1916 Rising. He referred to him as “a brilliant ambassador for the town and district”, and thanked him for all his efforts during his term.
Independent councillor Ailish McManus thanked the outgoing mayor for all the support he had given her since she joined the council, while fellow Independent Michael O’Brien said Cllr Farrell had represented the district “with distinction” during what was “a challenging year”.
Cllr Farrell thanked everyone for their kind words, said he thoroughly enjoyed the role, and expressed his desire to undertake it again in the future. He will now serve as deputy mayor of Athlone to Cllr John Dolan.