A book of condolence has been opened at City Hall for former minister and city mayor, TD and Minister Bobby Molloy after his death at the weekend at the age of 80. Mr Molloy was laid to rest in The New Cemetery Bohermore yesterday (Wednesday ) following funeral mass in Galway Cathedral.
A special city council meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon to pay tribute to the former politician. A number of local representatives conveyed their sympathies to the Molloy family while speaking warmly about him and the esteem in which he was held.
Bobby Molloy began his political career as a city councillor representing Fianna Fáil and served as Mayor of Galway in 1968 and 1969. He was elected as a TD for Galway West in 1965 and was re-elected 10 times until his retirement in 2002. During a distinguished political career he held many cabinet posts including Minister for Defense, Minister for Local Government, and Minister for Energy. In 1986, he was one of the most prominent Fianna Fail members to help found the Progressive Democrats.
At Tuesday’s meeting, former party colleague Councillor Donal Lyons described Bobby Molloy as an icon in local and national political terms. “He was a man of the highest integrity and hugely committed to politics and to the people of Galway West. It is fair to say his like will never be seen again. He was a real constituency man - Mary Harney said during the week that he would not leave his office in the Dail until 11 o’ clock at night. In the sixties when he was elected, Galway would have been on par with places like Waterford and Dundalk. He worked hard to play his part in ensuring it became the bustling tribal city it is today.”
Councillor Lyons also paid tribute to Mr Molloy’s wife Phyllis for her dedication in nursing him as his health deteriorated in recent years.
Fellow former PD councillor Terry O’Flaherty said that Mr Molloy gave unselfishly of himself to the people of Galway West. “He was a true man of the people. He filled all roles with honesty, integrity, and passion. He brought growth and enterprise to the city, which we are reaping the benefits of now.”
She told a story of meeting him at one of his clinics in the Imperial Hotel. “I thought he looked really unwell and was a bit worried about him. I made enquires a few days later and was told he had stayed at the clinic all day until 10pm. It showed his dedication to the job. His family sacrificed a lot over the years due to his work and the hours he put in. May he rest in peace.”
The third former member of the PDs Councillor Declan McDonnell said he had the privilege of knowing Bobby Molloy for 51 years. Councillor McDonnell spoke of all he had done for Galway.” Nobody can ever say Bobby Molloy did not deliver for Galway. He did. He was well respected, honourable, and humble. He was always there for Donal, Terry and myself to give us advice on different politicial issues.”
He also spoke of the former TD’s retirement circumstances. “I will never forget the day he had to retire because a member of his staff had made a mistake. He didn’t hang that person out. He took it on the chin. He sat down with myself, Terry, Donal, Noel Grealish, Mary Harney and Des O’Malley after. There was some consternation as to whether the PDs could retain the seat. He said ‘do you know this is Galway West - we will return the seat’, and that we did. His knowledge of the constituency was something else.”
A giant of politics
Councillor Oille Crowe spoke on behalf of the Fianna Fáil members and described Bobby Molloy as a ‘fantastic member of our party’. Cllr Crowe described him as an exceptional politician. “I had the honour of serving with him on the board of the Galway Harbour Company. I got first hand knowledge of his exemplary work and he did a lot for the Harbour Company.”
Independent representative Mike Cubbard said the outpouring of sadness following Mr Molloy’s death was a result of the trojan work he had done during a political career which spanned 50 years. “The legacy he has left behind is something his family should be very proud of. As a young politician, you cannot but be in awe of him.”
Fellow Independent Colette Connolly remarked that it was not often a politician was remembered with such fondess and respect.
Labour member Billy Cameron said there were not too many politicians who come out of Galway being recognised as giants of politics. “His stamina in politics says a lot for the man - he was re-elected to Galway West 10 times. He was a courageous man - his deflection from Fianna Fáil to set up the PDs in 1986 showed courage. Democratic politics was under threat at the time.”
Cllr Cameron said Bobby Molloy’s work for the Defence Forces was visionary. “As Minister for Defence, he opened up the force to women. Ireland was possibly one of the first countries in Europe to do so, and he also brought the Defence Forces accounts building to Galway. All of the qualities he displayed showed the man he was. It is a sad day for Galway - we need to get back to those days where we have giants of men representing us in Dáil Eireann and delivering for the city.”
Bobby Molloy is survived by his wife Phyllis and four children Sinéad, Sorcha, Daragh, and Donncha. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.