A friend, a colleague who always put the people of Cashel first, a man of his word, and a general knowledge enthusiast who relished a good debate about politics, sport and history.
Just some of the tributes which were paid to the late Councillor, family man, GAA fan, and quizmaster Michael ‘Micky’ Browne, who died on Sunday last week.
Hundreds of family members, friends, and well wishers attended both the removal of Cllr Browne’s remains from his sister Kay Kearney’s residence in Clonoulty on Tuesday last week, followed by the Funeral Mass on Wednesday morning.
As a measure of the respect Cllr Browne was held in locally, members of the Cashel King Cormac’s Hurling and Football Club formed a guard of honour from the Camus Road to St John the Baptist Church. Members of the Cashel Camogie Club, fellow Town and County Councillors, and Catholic and Protestant Clergy attended the Funeral Mass.
At a specially convened meeting of Cashel Town Council on Tuesday evening, Councillors recalled Cllr Brown’s life, his strong integrity, and sharp intelligence. Mayor Maribel Wood said Cllr Browne “never lost his sense of humour right throughout his illness.”
Despite knowing his illness was terminal, Cllr Browne was always “supportive and positive”. “He lived life to the full”, and continued to attend Camogie matches and socialise in one of his favourite haunts, Brosnan’s Pub, right up to the weeks before his death.
Cllr Browne was first elected to the Chamber in 1985, and served on the Town Council for about 25 years, apart from a five-year period from 1999. Re-elected in 2005, he was Chairman of the then Urban District Council on two occasions, 1987/’88, and 1995/’96. Cllr Browne was Mayor of Cashel in 2010/11, during which he famously became the first serving Sinn Fein member to greet a British Head of State. He served on numerous other bodies, including the VEC, and the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland.
“He lived a full life, and never felt sorry for himself. On the Rock, when he shook hands with the Queen, he was very frail,” continued Mayor Wood. “Micky was so clear, kind, and focused. I will never forget the support I got from Micky Browne. The willingness he had; the sense of duty he had.” Talking about the famous royal handshake, he later told Cllr Wood: “I did it because it was right.”
Cllr Sean McCarthy, recalling Cllr Browne’s first election to the Chamber in 1985, paid tribute to Cllr Browne’s hard work. “He committed himself to his duties. He recognised these as the prime duties of his life.” Cllr Browne’s arguments in the Chamber were always “logical”and he always questioned how the Council was run, on behalf of the people. “His word was his bond. He was a man of steel in that sense,” said Cllr McCarthy.
Cllr McCarthy had approached Cllr Browne prior to the Queen’s visit. Cllr Browne told him: “I have decided that the people of Cashel want me to welcome the Queen to Cashel. That is more important than anything else.”
Cllr Joe Moloney – a long time close friend of Cllr Browne’s through the GAA and politics – said: “you could not meet a more genuine fellow. He was the salt of the earth.”. With Micky, the people of Cashel came first. His advice was superb. “He liked nothing better than a good quiz. That was his pride and joy. Micky’s knowledge was brilliant. He was a true friend and Councillor.”
“Micky was a real Cashel man. May Heaven be his bed,” added Cllr Moloney.
Cllr Martin Browne, whose own father died only about two months ago, said that while his father and Michael Browne might have had some rows, there was never any ill feeling. Cllr Browne was “one hell of a man each time I met him.”
Cllr Eoghan Lawrence remembered Cllr Browne’s courage in battling his ill health. Once, Cllr Browne had told him “we are all elected by the people of Cashel and we all have the same goal.” Cllr Browne’s was a “deep voice” in the Chamber. “I certainly learned a thing or two from Micky Browne,” said Cllr Lawrence.
Cllr PJ Quinlan had great memories travelling to some of the AMAI meetings with Micky. “All the fellow Councillors agreed that he was highly intelligent. He had a huge knowledge of politics and current affairs.” Cllr Browne had helped the new Councillors out when they were elected.
Cllr Dan Dillon, who had known Michael Browne for many years, said he was a man with a most intelligent mind. As a passenger in the car with him, Micky’s conversation could turn to politics, the GAA, or any subject.
“He was a most well read man. He was a most helpful person. For any problem in the locality, Micky was the first person you would go to. He was witty and sharp. If you became too complacent, he could pull the rug from under you. He loved to served.”
Cllr Eddie Bennett, a neighbour of Cllr Browne’s, said his old friend had a great head for names and faces. “His memory was encyclopedic.” Cllr Bennett extended his sympathies to Cllr Browne’s large family. “He was a great loss to the town.”