The first person from the town to be appointed as Town Clerk in Clonmel stepped down from the post last Friday, ending a career that saw him serve for four decades in the public service.
Billy Doyle, who was Town Clerk for the past 10 years, says he intends to make sure that his early retirement will also be an active one.
His outstanding service over the last 40 years will be recognised this Friday when he’s accorded a civic reception at the Town Hall. “It’s a tremendous honour and I really appreciate the acknowledgment of the Mayor and elected members”, he said.
Born and bred in Abbey Road, Billy is son of the late Isabella and Martin Doyle. He started his working life with the Mid Western Health Board in September 1971, spending 9 months in Limerick before securing a job as a clerical officer with South Tipp County Council the following June.
With the exception of a brief stint as acting Town Clerk in Cashel he spent all his career with the County Council and Clonmel Borough Council. Before taking up the role of Town Clerk in Clonmel he had a wide and varied career, working in many different sections of the County Council including finance, housing, planning, environment, water services, veterinary, the fire department and on the major emergency plan.
When asked about the highlights of his time as Town Clerk he immediately identified the River Suir Clonmel Drainage Scheme, also known as the Flood Relief Scheme. “It’s great to see how that scheme has progressed. Some people have certain views about the impact of the work but we have to look at the bigger picture and protect people in vulnerable areas who have suffered from flooding. That’s the key issue”, he says.
He was also proud to have been part of the emergency response team when flooding occurred in the town, saying he had a great working relationship with the other emergency services including the Gardai, Defence Force, HSE, Civil Defence, the County Councils in both South Tipp and Waterford, other voluntary agencies and the general community.
“While you could never stop the flood waters you could mitigate people’s suffering when you had a plan in place and there was outstanding co-operation and interaction with the other emergency services. We were always conscious of and sympathised with the people affected”.
In his time in the job Billy said he “enjoyed the challenges that came before me, and I always did my best to be fair and impartial in everything I did.
I always took the view that you should work with people to improve Clonmel and the lives of the people who live in the town, as well as promoting the town and making it a better place both in which to live and to visit and shop here”.
The opportunity to serve in his own town and work with people he knew gave him a good insight and appreciation into the issues and difficulties faced by the town. And while you didn’t have the solution to every problem that local knowledge and understanding gave the job an added interest, he says.
He also derived great satisfaction from his interaction with the various statutory and non-statutory bodies, the voluntary and community groups, residents associations and different groups involved in planning festivals.
“I’d like to think we made a difference to people’s lives and promoted Clonmel”, he says.
He says the RAPID programme – Revitalising Areas through Planning, Investment and Development – was another area where there was great co-operation between the different agencies and community representatives in improving the quality of life and facilities in the various housing estates that came under RAPID.
He said he had built up some very good relationships and friendships within the various estates and would like to think that this was another area that had made a difference to people’s lives.
“There’s massive positivity working with the people in those estates”, he says. RAPID was a typical example of the statutory agencies working with the voluntary groups to promote, enhance and improve the quality of life of the people they served.
He said that the improvements that came from the interaction between the Borough Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Association of Traders was to the benefit of everyone in the town because those three bodies had the common objective of promoting and enhancing Clonmel.
Town twinning was also an area that promoted the town and was a very important tool in building up cultural, social, education and sporting links with other European towns and cities, as was the friendship pact with Peoria in the American state of Illinois.
Looking back on his career Billy says he found it very rewarding and satisfying and it was a pleasure to be part of the public service and local government. He says the people he worked with, including the elected representatives in the County and Borough Councils, were very positive and progressive.
He described all those he had worked with over the years as very dedicated and committed to the provision of public services. And he would always value the friendships made and the tremendous memories he had from that time.
From his recent career he singled out the Borough Council staff, both indoor and outdoor, for their tremendous and committed response to emergencies such as flooding and adverse weather conditions. “I always took the view that we worked as a team in the Town Hall and that was the way we operated”.
Billy also acknowledged the help, assistance and support of the various managers with whom he had served.
His successor as Town Clerk is Waterford man Ger Walsh, who has made the switch to the Town Hall from the County Council.
“He’s a very astute, able and efficient guy and I’ve no doubt that he’ll continue the work of the Borough to serve the people of Clonmel and I wish him every success for the future”.
While he admits that he’ll miss the camaraderie of working life, he’s looking forward to his retirement. He intends to play “the odd game of golf” –his wife Helen is a keen golfer - and continue his involvement in some of the groups and committees he has been a member of over the years.
He has a long association with St. Mary’s Hurling Club, both as player and administrator, and is still involved with the club committee. He’s also proud to be a member of the Rotary Club of Clonmel, which he says does tremendous work in the town.
Some travel is also on the agenda for Billy and Helen, who have three children – daughter Aoife, who’s based in Brussels, and sons Ronan and Paul.
“I’m in reasonably good health and I intend to make the most of what will be an active retirement”, he says.