Tributes were paid at this week’s meeting of South Tipperary Co. Council to former Co. Manager Seamus Hayes, who passed away last week at the age of 82.
Mr Hayes, a native of Cappawhite, died at South Tipperary General Hospital on Monday, February 13.
He served as County Manager of South Tipperary Co. Council for 11 years from 1984 until his retirement in 1995. Prior to securing this position, he was County Manager in Co. Wicklwow from 1979 to 1984.
He began his career in local government as an assistant office clerk in South Tipperary Co. Council and progressed his career while based in Kerry and Longford County Councils.
Among the huge crowd of mourners at his funeral at St Mary’s Church in Irishtown in Clonmel last Wednesday night and Thursday morning were many former local government colleagues he served with during his long career including three former South Tipperary county managers.
County Council Chairman Michael Fitzgerald described Mr Hayes as good, decent, honest person, who always had time for people and time to listen and advise people.
He recounted that Mr Hayes was born into a small farm in Cappawhite and throughout his life he kept a great love for nature, the land and his sense of place.
In his tribute to Mr Hayes at South Tipperary Co. Council’s adjourned monthy meeting on Monday, Cllr Fitzgerald said the former county manager was a man of great vision and courage.
He said there were many great monuments in Clonmel to Seamus Hayes and pointed to the Co. Council’s Civic Offices as his outstanding achievement. He spearheaded the building of the Council’s headquarters in the 1980s at a time when no other local authority was doing this.
Cllr Fitzgerald recounted that he worked very closely with Mr Hayes during the latter stages of the construction of the Co. Council’s headquarters and recalled his three reasons for building the Civic Offices were to provide first class facilities for the Council’s customers and staff and a first class council chamber.
He added that he always liked meeting Seamus Hayes after he retired and recalled the day ten years ago when he met Mr Hayes at the opening of the extension to the graveyard in his native Cappawhite. Seamus Hayes had worked with the late Cllr JP Hanna to achieve the extension and he was proud to see what he had worked so hard for come to fruition.
County Manager Billy McEvoy said Seamus Hayes was a gentleman to his finger tips, who had made a tremendous contribution to this county. The Council staff who served with him had great memories of working with him. He recalled that the deceased had also been a keen golfer, whom it was hard to win a few quid from.
Cllr Michael Anglim, who extended sympathy to the Hayes family on behalf of the Fianna Fail councillors, said Seamus Hayes was a complete gentleman, a genuine, nice man and his death was a big loss.
On behalf of the Fine Gael group on the Council, Cllr Liam Ahearne said Seamus Hayes had served Tipperary well and had been a great ambassador for the county.
“He had a vision for this county when he came back to (be county manager) and this building is a true reflection of that vision,” he said.
Cllr Darren Ryan, on behalf of the Labour councillors, said anyone who had the privilege of knowing Seamus Hayes described him as a true gentleman, who had served the people with dedication.
Representing the Workers & Unemployment Action Group, Cllr Pat English said Seamus Hayes served the people of South Tipperary well over the years and the large attendance at his funeral spoke for itself. “I have never heard a bad word spoken about the man. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Cappawhite Cllr Mary Hanna Hourigan spoke of how she and her family got to know Seamus Hayes children when they spent their summer holidays in Cappawhite while growing up. She said he was a man of kindness and humanity and she had great admiration for him.
Seamus Hayes, who lived in Marlfield, Clonmel, was pre-deceased by his wife Una and survived by his children Marcus, Eddie, George, Mary Rose, Kathryn and Seamus, brothers, sister, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces and many friends.
He was laid to rest in St Patrick’s Cemetery in Clonmel following the funeral Mass last Thursday, February 16.