The late prominent city businessman Raymond Rooney was remembered this week as a man of energy and enthusiasm who possessed a “remarkable” can-do attitude.
Mr Rooney who lived in Kingston, died early on Saturday morning at University Hospital Galway after suffering a major stroke mid-week. He was well known and highly regarded, particularly in business, horseracing and charity circles.
Tributes poured in this week for the man who started his auctioneering business in 1966, was on the Board of the Irish Horseracing Authority and who for the past 20 years was the chairperson of Croi, the West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation.
Neil Johnson, the chief executive of the charity, said Mr Rooney’s chairmanship was characterised by “incredible energy and enthusiasm”.
“He always focused on the best he could do to benefit local heart patients. It was ironic he passed away in the coronary care unit [of UHG], one of the projects he was instrumental in bringing to the fore.”
He was totally committed and dedicated to driving the campaign to bring heart surgery west of the Shannon, he said.
“It is a fitting tribute to him that the unit is now up and running and doing life saving heart surgery on a daily basis.”
Mr Johnson described the late Mr Rooney as “very focused”. “He was singleminded in terms of when he had an objective, he pursued it. He was always very driven. He never saw obstacles as being unsurmountable.
Mr Rooney who celebrated his 70th birthday earlier this year, was someone who never seemed to age, according to the Croi CEO.
“He was as energised and enthusiastic last week as what he was when I first joined Croi 15 years ago.”
Oyvind Nordsletten, the Norwegian ambassador to Ireland, said Mr Rooney - who was one of two Norwegian honorary consulates in Ireland - was always held in the highest of esteem.
“My predecessor and Norway in general was highly appreciative of what he was doing for the Norwegian community in his capacity as honorary consul. Everything he did for our country was done in the best of ways and we were very sorry he passed away. I have sent a letter of condolence and a wreath to his family as a token of appreciation.”
Fiona Monaghan, general manager of Failte Ireland western region, stated Raymond Rooney was instrumental in the merger of the regional tourism authorities with Failte Ireland.
“Ray Rooney was the first chairman of the Failte Ireland West Region Tourism Development Board following the merger of the former Ireland West Tourism with Failte Ireland in July 2006. He was instrumental in the merger of the Regional Tourism Authorities with Failte Ireland. One of the first tasks of the newly formed board was the development of the first ever tourism development plan for the wests which was published in November 2007. Ray chaired the steering group and was very involved in the industry and stakeholder consultation process.
“While he was synonymous with the Galway Races, more recently he was played a very significant role in securing government funding through Failte Ireland for the Galway Stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. He was a very proud Galwegian and worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the last two years to ensure the success of the event and that Galway looked its best when the world’s media descended on his native city at the end of May.”
She said he gave a 100 per cent “commitment” to every role he undertook.
“Only last month he travelled to Boston to represent Failte Ireland during the Boston Stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race and attended a series of high level meetings with significant tourism and business potential for Galway and the west.
“Ray was a true gentleman and will be sadly missed by his colleagues on the board and staff of Failte Ireland West.”
City businessman Anthony Ryan knew Mr Rooney especially through his involvement with Galway Race Committee [he was a senior steward of the Turf Club].
“He was totally dedicated to whatever he did. He was involved in racing generally as a chief steward. When he took on something he gave it 150 per cent, his attitude was remarkable. He gave an awful lot [to the community]. The work he did through Croi - the first of the large fundraising projects to support medical care - was a blueprint for all others. God knows how many lives were saved.”
He said Mr Rooney was a wonderful family man and he recalled meeting him on holiday at Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare.
“He was a great mentor. He gave his wife and sons wonderful advice.”
City mayor Cllr Declan McDonnell said Mr Rooney’s death was a huge loss to his family, the business community and the racing board.
“He achieved the highest honour in becoming a senior steward of the Irish Racing Board. I can remember him having famous racehorses, such as Golden Cygnet and Sky’s the Limit, which won in Cheltenham.
“He was a very quiet man who did tremendous work for business, charity and for the community. He will be sorely missed.”
The late Mr Rooney is survived by his wife Helen and sons, Niall, Ronan and Ross and his brothers Gerry, Dermot and Billy.