Wood election a milestone for two political dynasties in Ireland and Spain

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

Another milestone in a family whose involvement in local politics in Ireland and Spain stretches back two centuries was achieved last Friday night, when Cllr. Maribel Wood was elected Mayor of Cashel.

Cllr. Wood, who is originally from Spain, was unanimously elected to succeed Cllr. Michael Browne at the annual meeting of the local Town Council.

The new Deputy Mayor is Fianna Fail’s Cllr. Sean McCarthy, who was also elected unanimously.

Cllr. Wood (Independent) described her election as an historic occasion for both the Wood family in Cashel and the Molina family in Spain. For many years her grandfather was Mayor in his native town in the province of Cordoba, while her husband Tom’s great, great grandfather and grandfather were members of the Corporation and the Town Commissioners in Cashel in the 19th century.

Tom Wood was chairperson and Mayor of Cashel three times during his 30-year membership of the Council. His father, the late Dick Wood, retired in 1999 after 44 years public service, during which time he held the chair on four occasions.

Cllr. Wood, who said she was thrilled to have been elected to the Council two years ago, assured her colleagues that she had no intention of retaining a council seat for that length of time, and she doubted if the electorate would place their confidence in her over such a lengthy period.

“To say that events in Cashel over the past week were surreal would be an understatement. Whoever thought when we extended an invitation to Queen Elizabeth that it would make such an impact and world headlines for all the right reasons?

With Cllr. Michael Browne (the Sinn Fein Mayor who shook hands with the Queen) we can all feel proud of the Town Council’s role in making history.

Then within hours of the royal departure we were suddenly plunged into disbelief and shock with the untimely passing of our colleague, Cllr. Martin Browne. It surely focused my mind on what really matters in life”.

She returned to her pledge made during her election campaign that she was here to make a difference, not just history.

“Being Councillors is not about glory, status or power. It’s about promoting worthwhile projects, encouraging development and helping people when help is needed. I know you all desire those goals, which can only be advanced when we elected members, management and staff work together and continue to build on the good relationships with other like-minded organisations for the betterment of everyone in Cashel”.

She described the tendency to knock town councils at every opportunity as a matter of concern, but she believed that local government was the root of democracy. “Remove it and we get lost in a bureaucratic system. We become mere numbers”.

Despite limited resources, Cllr. Wood said that many progressive steps had been taken by the Council over the years, and in this time of great recession they had to avail of every opportunity to promote Cashel at its best.

She said that hosting the Charter of European Rural Communities conference at the end of June when 300 delegates, including Mayors from 26 towns across the EU would visit Cashel, was a daunting task.

“But I have no doubt we will rise again to the occasion and it will be a resounding success.

While the Rock is an iconic monument overlooking the plains of Tipperary, our people are the heart of the town. Together as a strong community we can meet and overcome the challenging times ahead, so let’s go for it”.

Cllr. Wood was proposed as Mayor by Cllr. Sean McCarthy. He said they had seen her ability to do the job when, as Deputy Mayor, she had filled in for Cllr. Michael Browne during his illness in recent months.

She was seconded by Cllr. Joe Moloney, who said Cllr. Wood had shown great courage and skill as Deputy Mayor and had done justice to the role.

She was congratulated and wished all the best for the coming year by the members, management and staff.

Glowing tributes were also paid to outgoing Mayor Cllr. Michael Browne for the way he carried out his duties, despite his serious illness, and for being the only Sinn Fein member to welcome Queen Elizabeth to Ireland.

Cllr. Browne proposed Cllr. Sean McCarthy as Deputy Mayor, a proposal that Cllr. Moloney seconded.