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Councillors pay tribute to ‘loyal and generous’ Seán Bourke

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COLLEAGUES The late Seán Bourke is pictured shaking hands with current Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach Blackie Gavin at the 2004 election count in Castlebar.

Former Mayo County Councillor died on Friday aged 72 years

Anton McNulty

Glowing tributes were paid to former councillor Seán Bourke by his colleagues in Mayo County Council yesterday (Monday), who was described as ‘a loyal and generous person who did not have a single enemy in the county’.
The former Fianna Fáil councillor first served as a public representative in 1985 when he became a member of Castlebar Urban Council and served as town Mayor on two terms. He was first elected to Mayo County Council in 1999 and served two terms until, he retired in 2009.
A minute’s silence took place at yesterday’s (Monday) monthly meeting of Mayo County Council and the meeting was adjourned as a mark of respect to the Keelouges native, who died on Friday aged 72 years.
His Funeral Mass took place before the County Council meeting at the Church of the Holy Rosary, Castlebar and burial took place afterwards in Castlebar New Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Ann; daughters, Regina and Geraldine; grandchildren; brothers, Brendan and Joe and sister, Moira.
Seán Bourke worked as a pathology technician in Mayo University Hospital for over 30 years and his remains lay in repose in the mortuary of the hospital before its removal to the church on Sunday.
Leading tributes to Mr Bourke, his party colleague, Cllr Al McDonnell said his passing was a sad day for the people of Castlebar and Mayo. Referencing his work as a mortician, Cllr McDonnell said he went beyond the call of duty to help grieving families.

Beyond the call of duty
“He probably will be remembered best for his association and relationship with the 14,000 grieving families who he dealt with over 30 years as a highly respected mortician in Castlebar hospital. He had the capacity to deal with the most sensitive and difficult situations involving people at their lowest ebb. He went beyond the call of duty on all occasions,” he said.
Cllr McDonnell said that Mr Bourke could relate to grieving families having lost his first wife, Kathleen leaving him a widower, at the age of 30, with a young daughter.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne echoed his sentiments saying he was a man made for his job and at times he was better than the Parish Priest when it came to dealing with grieving families.
Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes said his family was one of those 14,000 families who benefited from the support shown by Seán Bourke.
“I do recall needing the benefits of his professional service in March 1986 and that memory and gratitude still resonates. I think Cllr McDonnell referred to 14,000 families who felt the benefit of his kindness which was beyond his professional brief. I can absolutely relate to that because we were one of those 14,000 families.”
As a public representative, he was described as a ‘quiet, dignified man’ who did not have a lot to say but did an extraordinary amount of work for the people of Castlebar and Mayo.
“The one thing that came through is that he was a man of few words. But when he did speak everyone listened. An effective councillor isn’t always someone who is jumping up and down about issues, he was an extremely effective councillor who had the ability to deliver,” said Ballinrobe-based councillor Damien Ryan.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council Blackie Gavin said the large turnout for his removal and funeral Mass was testament to how well respected he was.

Great send off
“Seán never left the Fianna Fáil party and was liked by all in all political parties and you could see that last night from his removal from Mayo University Hospital where people turned up from all political parties. Seán got a great send off which was well deserved,” he said.
Members of Fine Gael were equally as glowing in their tributes to Mr Bourke with Cllr Henry Kenny describing him as a ‘genuine individual’ while Cllr John Cribbin said he was ‘a popular man who did not have an enemy in the county’.
Westport-based Fine Gael councillor Tereasa McGuire said she was a family friend of Mr Bourke and said other politicians could learn from his nature.
“Seán Bourke was loyal regardless of your persuasion or your belief. He didn’t suffer fools and when he spoke he told it exactly as it was. That loyalty and generosity of spirit which is so sadly lacking in public representatives was always present in Seán,” she said.
Sinn Féin councillor Joe McHale said he knew Seán Bourke since 1968, and described him as ‘quietly a republican’ who ‘wasn’t shy to help me out when times were tough’.
John Condon, Director of Services, was also a close friend of Seán Bourke said he saw politics as a way of serving the people, and that is why he was respected by all.
“He was a loyal member of Fianna Fáil party and a good republican but he respected and was respected by people right across the political divide because he never had a bad word to say about anybody. He always treated people with courtesy and respect.
“He was always a pleasure to deal whether you met him while he was making representations for his constituents or at a function or for a few pints. It was always good to meet him and you always felt better for having met with him.”

MPU Mayo