The town of Westport came to a standstill at lunchtime last Monday for the funeral of Seán Staunton, a man described by Fr Charlie McDonnell during his funeral Mass as “The father of Westport”.
Mr Staunton died on Saturday morning last, November 22, at his home in Knockfin in Westport.
Mr Staunton was a Westport Town Councillor for 37 years and served as chairperson of the council on a number of occasions during his tenure with the council. He was also the current chairman of Mayo Fianna Fáil. He was also involved in numerous community groups and was a tireless promoter of Westport during his lifetime.
Seán Staunton was a journalist by profession and served as the editor of The Mayo News for almost 20 years, having begun his journalistic career with The Connaught Telegraph, before joining The Western People in the mid 1960s, where he worked until he was appointed editor of The Mayo News in 1988.
Paying tribute to Seán, Deputy Dara Calleary said: “Seán was an absolute gentleman for whom the traits of honour and integrity were at his very core - personally, politically, and professionally.
“He was passionate about many things in life but the development of Westport was one of his life's absolute missions and the Westport of today owes much of its tourism, business, cultural and civic success to the vision of a small group of people, at whose heart was Seán. He was proud to be a member of the Fianna Fáil party but his hallmark on Westport Town Council was putting on the Westport jersey before any other. Seán was a Westport Tourism pioneer, an experience which he put to wider use during his time on the board of Ireland West Tourism.
“He was passionate about education and served as a member of Mayo VEC for many years, during which time he was involved in the expansion of schools and course offerings across the county, especially in the area of adult and second chance education.
“A talented and passionate journalist in his own right, he fostered and nurtured the careers of many of the journalists who are household names across this county and country today. It is testament to his dedication to the paper and to his professionalism that he worked right up until illness prevented him.
“It was a privilege to have known him, to have served with him and to have been guided by him. “