Turloughmore celebrates its sole senator

Jarlath McDonagh pictured with his wife Gerardine and daughter Eimear on his first day in Seanad Eireann in 1993.

Jarlath McDonagh pictured with his wife Gerardine and daughter Eimear on his first day in Seanad Eireann in 1993.

Seanad Eireann is celebrating its 100th anniversary and in that hundred years some of the greatest and most noted people took their place in the Higher House of the Irish Parliament.

The senate, founded in 1922, led by the great WT Cosgrove, over the years has seen amongst its ranks people like the great poet WB Yeats, the current president of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Eamonn de Buitlear of RTE fame, Douglas Hyde-the first president of Ireland, the great David Norris, Mary Robinson-former President of Ireland, Martin McAleese, Gordon Wilson the peace activist in Northern Ireland.

Now, one Galway community is to mark the political life of its only senator with an event at the end of the month.

In that time, just one person from Turloughmore in the parish of Lackagh was elected to the famous chamber, when Jarlath McDonagh spent a decade in the Seanad, 1993-2002.

In that period the Turloughmore native was Assistant Chairperson of the Seanad, Spokesperson on Education, member of the Irish Language Committee and in his final years there he was promoted to the front bench as Spokesperson on the Environment by his close friend, the Taoiseach at the time, John Bruton.

Jarlath McDonagh sat in the Dail for that special commemorative 100 year meeting of the Seanad with current senators and past senators still living, with the special televised address to be given by Taoiseach Micheal Martin.

The Turloughmore native had a strong political background with his grandfather John Walter McDonagh, a Cumann na Gael councillor in the years leading up to the Eucharistic Congress of 1932.

On his mother’s side, his uncle Jack Costello of Corofin served in the 1980s as a member of the Labour party in the UK and became Mayor of Basildon, a large city on the outskirts of London.

Jarlath himself, having returned to Turloughmore after a great 14 year spell as a teacher in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, went into politics in 1985 becoming a County Councillor.

In total he spent 28 years in politics, fighting and winning all seven elections in his career – five council and two senate.

Jarlath was also Adult Education Officer for Co. Galway VEC, renowned for the many educational programmes he set up. He was also a great hurling man, bringing the great game to Sligo and winning, as manager, of Sligo’s only ever All-Ireland hurling title in 1971 – the U16 All Ireland Final – for which he was feted 50 years later at this year’s Sligo Hurling Final.

He was elected as Chairman of the Turloughmore Hurling Club in 1982 and in the next eight years, the great developing period, he oversaw the building of the Hurling Club Complex at Lackagh, one of the best in the country.

He was also Chairman of that club in 1985 when Turloughmore won their last County Hurling Final. At the same time he was also PRO of Galway County Board.

Jarlath McDonagh was an activist in every aspect of people’s lives; an avid hurling man, a lifetime involvement in education, a great political career and today he is very much involved in the horse racing business, having some notable winners in recent times like Padraic O’Conaire and Bomber Jackson, trained by his niece Yvonne Dunleavy. He is also the current Chairman of Dunmore Community School and also is pretty active in his retirement.

The Turloughmore Fine Gael branch are organising a special function to commemorate Jarlath McDonagh’s various enterprises over the years, especially his involvement as the only-ever Turloughmore person in Seanad Eireann in a hundred years.

This is not a political function, and so it is hoped that people from various elements of education, hurling fans and racing enthusiasts, from all political persuasions will turn up to celebrate in Flynn’s Bar, Lackagh tomorrow Friday December 30, where the M.C. will be Cllr. David Collins.

Music will be provided, refreshments will be served and the guest speaker will be legendary former Galway hurling star, Joe Connolly. All are welcome to what should be a memorable night.


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