On one of this year’s too infrequent real Summer days hundreds gathered in St John the Baptist church at noon on Wednesday last for the funeral mass of former Mayor Mickey Browne, who died the previous Sunday following a short illness.
In his homily chief celebrant Fr. Christy O’Dwyer, said “ It was a sad coincidence that had brought us here today for the second time in seven weeks to say farewell to a member of Cashel Town Council, the first for Martin Browne and today for Mickey, both died before their time.
Mickey he said had three great loves in his life “his family, his community and his country.” Born in Lisloran, Knockavilla, the third of a large family he was educated in Knockavilla National School. At a young age he worked with his father Peter in the forestry which was the main source in the area at the time. Some years later he went to work as a steel erector for JJ O’Dwyer, in Dundrum and remained in that business for the rest of his life travelling the length and breath of the country for O’Dwyers and later for himself.
On marrying local girl Rene Peters, Mickey moved to Cashel in the mid 70’s where the couple reared a family of five, Breda, PJ, Micheal, Liam and Sean. Three years ago he suffered the sadness of Rene’s sudden death and since then had devoted his time to his eleven grandchildren. Mickey was first and foremost a family man.
His community was his second love. He had a pride in his native place and what it stood for and that pride of place also applied to his adopted Cashel. Having spent most of his adult live in the town Mickey became more Cashel than the Cashel’s themselves. He had a keen interest in all things GAA and was actively involved in both the King Cormac’s and Camogie clubs.
It was in the political sphere that he will be best remembered having been first elected as a Sinn Féin councillor to the then Cashel UDC in 1986 and but for a hiatus in the 90’s was a good servant of Cashel up to June of this years when he handed over the Mayoral chain to the present incumbent. In all he served twenty two years as a councillor three terms as chairman or mayor. Mickey will be remembered as a tireless worker on behalf of the people, indeed he had a passion for the betterment of the citizens and the town. He was a tireless advocate of the underprivileged the voice of the underdog, concerned for all who experienced poverty and hardship never afraid to speak his mind and tell the truth however uncomfortable that might be. He was determined and persevering in advocating his cause never courting popularity, admirable traits which made him popular, Mickey was selfless in his public service, so many people are the better for his years as a public representative.
Arguably Mickey’s finest hour and the high point in his public life was during the recent visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to the Rock of Cashel. His legitimate views on Irish unity are known to all but that did not stop him from being the true statesman on that occasion, it would have been easy for him to opt out he had the perfect alibi, he was seriously ill. But he was a man who put duty before convenience he did his duty and did it with great dignity and courage. Though frail on that wet and cold day in May he showed great strength and dignity indeed it would take a hearth of stone not to admire the man and his tenacity on the occasion. The people of Cashel were proud and grateful for what Mickey did, that admiration and gratitude was shared far and wide.
His third great love was for his country, he spent most of his life promoting its cause. As a member of Sinn Féin he had deep aspirations to see a united Ireland, he was a true patriot working for the good of his country. French President Charles de Gaulle on leaving office in 1969 said “ Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; Nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first”. Love of his own people came first and foremost in Mickey Browne’s life.
Mickey Browne was laid to rest with his wife Rene in Cormac’s Cemetery.
Táimid-ne uile buíoch agus broduil as an meíd a rinne Micheál ar son muintir Caiseal agus ar son muintir na hEireann uile. Go bhfaighe sé luach a shiothar í riocht dé.