The ‘eighth councillor’ for the West Mayo Municipal District was how the late Neill O’Neill was described by councillors who expressed a vote of sympathy at their first meeting following his untimely passing.
Cathaoirleach of the West Mayo Municipal District, Cllr Michael Holmes, led the expressions of sympathy to the family of Mr O’Neill, the former Managing Editor of The Mayo News, who died at the age of 36 last month.
Mr O’Neill regularly reported on meetings of the West Mayo Municipal District and Cllr Holmes described him as the ‘eighth councillor’.
“Neill O’Neill was with us for our last meeting … he was the eighth councillor in the West Mayo District. He was part of our meetings for a long time and put a lot of thought into them. He was fair to us all. He was an out and out gentleman. His death was a shock to us all,” he said.
Westport councillor Brendan Mulroy told the meeting that he had been with Mr O’Neill on the evening before his death as they watched the Ireland V Wales World Cup qualifier together.
He recalled a humorous story, often told by Mr O’Neill, where he was denied a goal in a charity soccer match by Mayo ladies footballer, Cora Staunton.
“I was refereeing the game and he was crying for a penalty and he finally got one on the third occasion. Cora Staunton picked up the ball but Neill said he would take it. He put the ball on the spot and as he stood preparing to kick the ball, she ran by him and kicked the ball into the net. He never got over it,” he recalled with a laugh.
Cllr Christy Hyland said that Mr O’Neill was on a number of committees in Westport which he said he gave everything to and his passing was already felt by them. He said he had a vision for Westport and the county and he will be sadly missed.
The month’s mind Mass for Mr O’Neill will take place in St Mary’s Church, Westport this Saturday, November 11 at 6.30pm.