Passing of a political giant

They were the best of times, they were the worst of times.

The era in which Robert Molloy was elected to represent Galway was a period of darkness and desolation; a time when Church and State were the dominant forces in an oppressed country. They were times when Galway was not the place it is now and it would have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a new perception of itself. The town became a city, the city became a place of culture, and its place in the national ranking of what matters rose and rose.

And it did so at a time when the political representatives who went to Dublin from here all played a key role in their parties in those days of smoke-filled rooms and dialogue at the highest level. In that era, to use the parlance, everyone who represented us in Dublin knew that they were playing ‘senior hurling.’

At one stage Galway had the powerhouses of Mark Killilea, of Maire Geoghegan Quinn, of Frank Fahy, of Bobby Molloy, of Michael D Higgins, of John Donnellan, of Paul Connaughton, of Micheal Kitt, of Noel Treacy.

It was an era when more seemed to be done, when decisions seemed to move more quickly through the chains of power. I suppose the fact that all the TDs could still sit on the local councils gave the correct impression that local issues seemed to move up and down the chain more directly. When a city county or county council met, the discourse that ensued was that of a strong national level, the gravitas seemed to be more evident. Councillors and officials knew that if they spoke of an issue, the people who could make it happen were there too.

And for most of his career, Bobby Molloy was someone who could make things happen. At his funeral Mass yesterday, the congregation was told that not only was he a great talker, but a much better listener.

It is hard to believe that it is almost 15 years since he retired from politics.

It is always a regret that when somebody retires and never gets the opportunity to enjoy it in the full of his health — in the case of Bobby, he fell ill not long after he left politics.

He told this newspaper at the time that it was a bit of a low when he was diagnosed with cancer so soon after his retirement. At the time, I remember writing that it was sad that he should not get more time to enjoy the city and county that he so helped to create.

Illness when unexpected is never an easy cross to bear and he spoke of how his faith and the love and care from his family and friends helped pull him through that.

And it helped him come through that. He said that when he eventually regained the strength to play golf, he’d stand there in the fresh air on the first tee and watch as the Connemara bus passed by, and for the first time, he felt that he did not have to feel guilty about playing golf anymore.

He had served his time, his city and county, and his country well.

In a career that marked the bulk of his life, the work of Bobby Molloy was key to ensuring the growth of Galway, that Galway interests were well represented at the Cabinet table, that Galway issues became national issues.

In many areas and especially in Connemara, a vote for Bobby was a treasured thing, and so when they were handed on to Noel Grealish, they formed a support that the younger man has done well keen to cherish and nurture. Twenty years from now, there will still be people who will vote in the pattern they they do because of Bobby Molloy.

Galway has suffered many blows this year with the death of great Gaels — to lose the two Christy O’Connors, Joe McDonagh, and now Bobby Molloy in the space of ten months represents a major loss. All represented their supporters and their regions with distinction across different fields. And now, sadly, all have passed on.

To his family and friends, we extend our sincerest sympathies and thank them for sharing him with us. Their generosity of spirit enabled him to make the contribution to ensuring Galway is the place we all want to live in, work in, and study in.

Farewell, Bobby.


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