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On the Holmes strait


A PROUD MOMENT  Cllr Michael Holmes pictured with his wife Mai when they returned to Tiernaur in 2015 after he was elected Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council. Nevin’s of Tiernaur played host to his last West Mayo Municipal District meeting yesterday morning (Monday) before he retires.

Tributes paid to retiring Cllr Michael Holmes

Michael Gallagher

A man said to carry himself the same way whether walking down Fifth Avenue in New York or selling sheep at a crossroads was lauded in his home village duringyesterday’s (Monday) meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District in Tiernaur.
Council colleagues and staff gathered in Nevins’ Newfield Inn to honour Cllr Michael Holmes who is bowing out of local politics after 15 years’ service and the praise was long and loud.
“Long before social media, when there was only one phone in a village, Michael Holmes’ name was known far and wide,” Cllr Paul McNamara told the meeting.
“In 1999, Michael was involved in one of the greatest recounts ever in political history when less than a single vote separated himself and Frank Leneghan. However, Michael rose above it all and when Frank was on his victory parade that evening, the first bonfire he met was the one here in Tiernaur with Michael waiting to congratulate him. That says everything you need to know about him,” Cllr McNamara told the meeting.
The chairman of the municipal district, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, was also hearty in his praise. “I’ve known Michael since I first started coming to Tiernaur which is quite a while ago now (his wife, Shirley, is from Tiernaur). He has always been a true and loyal friend and a smart observer of life.”
The meeting was then addressed by Senator Rose Conway Walsh who had served with Cllr Holmes on the local authority before entering national politics.
“Michael was always dedicated to serving the people. He was always a community person who worked in a progressive, inclusive way. I want to thank him for his friendship, comradeship and the work he has done. I’m sure we’ll all hear a lot more from Michael in the future,” the senator added.
“I’ll never forget his support on the day my business was being picketed,” said Cllr Gerry Coyle. He was on the phone immediately offering to come down. When you’re on the canvas it’s nice to have friends there to pull you up. Michael Holmes didn’t have to practice at being a gentleman,” the Geesala man stated.
That sentiment was repeated by Cllr Christy Hyland, who told the meeting of his admiration for his council colleague.
“Michael never held grudges. We had rows but when it was over it was over. He always moved on and had a great saying which makes a lot of sense. ‘Common sense must prevail, but common sense is not so common’.”
“Michael Holmes never changed,” said Tereasa McGuire. The Michael Holmes walking down Fifth Avenue or selling sheep at a crossroads is the same Michael Holmes sitting here with us today.”
Director of Services, Catherine McConnell said that Michael’s gentlemanly nature went before him, his passion for the people he represented was always at the forefront and he will always be held in high regard by everyone in Mayo County Council.
Cllr Holmes then addressed the meeting and immediately sent laughter ringing around the room. “After all those nice words, I now know what my Funeral Mass will be like,” he stated before saying he was very proud to be at a council meeting in his own village in a room dedicated to the memory of his uncle, John Holmes, who worked in the building for more than seven decades.
The retiring councillor told the meeting that he was delighted to have been some help to the people of the electoral area before adding he was particularly proud of his involvement with the setting up of the Great Western Greenway and the council’s Agricultural Committee.
“My time on the council has flown by and I want to thank everyone who helped me during that time. I don’t think there’s one person I had a falling out with and we all worked well together. Politics never came into it for me. We were all elected in the interests of the people and that’s all that mattered,” he concluded.