Cllr. Ruaidhri Devitt is a couple of months into his term serving as Mayor of Tipperary Town with the achievement of being the youngest Mayor ever elected in the town.
A family man, a keen athlete, and an impressive portfolio in social and community organisations that could label him a community activist, as well being a teacher in St. Anne’s Secondary School with the light or heavy burden of influencing the education, dreams and goals of future generations… The Nationalist interviewed this very interesting young new Mayor and asked, “What’s the craic Ruaidhri? What inspires you and what’s your plan of action in the coming year?
Ruaidhri Devitt was born in Tipperary Town and went to St Michael’s primary school, followed by the Monastery C.B.S before attending St Ailbe’s secondary school. He has lived in Blackthorn Grove for the last seven years with his wife Claire and two children, Keira and Ryan who are four and two.
A keen sportsman Ruaidhri has been a member of Dundrum AC for over 10 years and still compete at cross country and road racing where he has won a number of medals at county level and a few at Munster level. He is also the P.R.O for the running club, competed at triathlons since 2003 and is currently training for his fourth Half Ironman, which will take place in Galway this September.
“I was one of the founding members of the Tipperary Wheelers Cycling/Triathlon club and it is great to see the club going from strength to strength with club members taking part in cycling races and tours as well as the increasing numbers who are giving triathlons a go,” said Mayor Devitt, also serving as chairperson on the board of management of the Canon Hayes sports centre.
“This has been a great honour for me as I believe the sports centre is one of the great success stories of the town. I watched the Olympics with pride as Katie Taylor and Paddy Barnes won their medals as both have been past recipients at the Canon Hayes sports awards. Our national award winner last year Mark Rohan will be competing in the Paraolympics in two weeks time. The centre also recognises upcoming talent when they award a number of sports scholarships every year. It is so important to recognise and encourage talent in our young people as it helps to give them the confidence to work even harder and to further excel for example our Olympian Michael Ryan who competed at the three day event had received a scholarship in the past.”
Cllr. Devitt’s father James comes from Golden, Co. Tipperary. “My father is a very honest hard working person and still drives to Golden every day to do all the farm work. My Mother Catherine is from Clashmore Co Waterford and was a teacher in St Ailbe’s. My family would have always had an interest in politics but never got involved but there was always a sense of what was right and wrong in my house growing up. They are always very supportive of myself and my two brothers Niall and Brian in whatever path we follow. The confidence that allowed me to go for election came from the constant support that I always received from my parents. It was always ok to give something a go, fail and try again.”
How long have you been in politics?
My first taste of politics came when in sixth year at St Ailbe’s, I was one of the students who set up the school students’ council; this was one of the first Students Council in the country. When I started college I was elected the class representative and after college I got involved in community activism and coaching sports teams. It was from my background in community involvement that was the springboard for my entry into politics. I thought long and hard and got advice from friends before deciding to give it a go.
What inspired you to get into politics?
I was born and raised in this community and proud to be so. My main reason for entering local politics is that I would like to improve the lives of as many people in my community as possible. On a national scale I have always been frustrated by the political system and believe a change in the way we elect T.D.’s is a must for our country to prosper into the future. I am still learning all the time and believe that the best way to get a change is to do it from the inside.
Your day job as a teacher... How does this influence what you pursue politically?
I studied in the University of Limerick and received a degree in Materials and Engineering Technology. I worked part time in Cahir Community school before returning to St Ailbe’s where I worked in the Tipperary Town school completion programme. I have worked in St Anne’s Secondary School for the last six years and love the job, as there is such a warm and caring atmosphere within the school. I teach Technology and Maths as well a coaching the school basketball teams. I really enjoy teaching and consider it a privilege to be part of shaping our young peoples futures. It is vital that all students feel valued as a person and all their interests and talents are developed and nurtured to the maximum.
What’s the most rewarding or enjoyable thing about teaching?
I really love coaching the school basketball teams and was lucky enough to have teams reach the national qualifiers in the past. The skills that they develop in team sports such as teamwork, mental toughness and self-discipline can all be transferred to other areas of life.
And what issues, on a local level in Tipperary do you wish to enhance, improve and be active in achieving?
It is a huge honour for me to be elected Mayor of our town and I know that it is a really difficult time for so many people, I would love to promise loads of jobs for our town but doing so would be disingenuous because under the current climate any town Mayor can’t guarantee jobs. However I will work with the relevant bodies and organisations and do everything I can to get the word out that Tipperary town have a number of vacant sites that are open for business. The town needs a by-pass or relief road and I will do all I can to keep this on the agenda. The best thing about Tipperary town is the people and the amount of volunteers that we have in our community as demonstrated by our recent festival, which was a great success. I want to support the volunteers in the community as much as possible during my term as mayor.
What are your three greatest achievements in life so far?
Getting married and having two brilliant children and getting elected as youngest Mayor of Tipperary town.
If you had one or two pieces of advice that you could impart to your children right now, from your own life experience - What would it be?
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that’s how we learn and choose a career that you’d enjoy and you will never work a day in your life.”
If time and money were no issue, what is the one thing you’d love to do personally?
“I would take a year out to train full time (in a warm climate) to see how fast I could complete an ironman.”
If time and money were no issue, what is the one thing that you would change on a global/humanitarian level?
“I would love to get rid of third world debt.”
And with Tipperary Town?
“I’d love to create lots of well paid jobs.”
What is your favourite thing about Tipperary Town?
“The range of facilities in the town from sporting, art and cultural and resource facilities.”
And what do you believe is the most inspirational aspect of Tipperary Town?
I believe that the most inspirational aspect of Tipperary Town is the people and the volunteers.
If you had to sell Tipperary Town, what would you see as its unique selling point?
The fact that we have empty building waiting for business.
If you had one wish, with no restrictions of time or money etc. and you could change/ improve or create one thing for Tipperary Town, what would it be and why?
The town badly needs a bypass, and maybe a pedestrian street.
If you had to choose between fame, glory or money, which would you choose?