FORMER Mayo TD PJ Morley has died at the age of 81. Mr Morley, a native of Cloonfaughna, Knock, served as a Fianna Fáil deputy in Dáil Eireann from 1977 to 1997. He was highly regarded across the political divide and always picked up a sizeable personal vote apart from the party support.
PJ, who died in Mayo General Hospital on Sunday following a brief illness, was a primary school teacher until he was elected to the Dáil. He served as principal in Coogue NS before taking up a similar appointment at Knock NS. On his election as a TD for Mayo East in 1977, he was replaced by Jackie Coyne as school principal in Knock, a position held by Jackie until his retirement in recent years.
His friend of many years, John Carty, who later won a seat for Fianna Fáil in the new Mayo 5-seater constituency, said PJ Morley was a real gentleman in every sense of the word. “PJ was a very close personal friend of mine. I started working with him in 1965 preparing for the Council elections in 1967 when he was first elected as a county councillor. We go back a long way.
“He was a most unassuming man, very inoffensive, and he got on well with people from all shades of political opinion. He had a great memory and an ability to know people and remember their names.
“He was a great representative for Mayo in Dáil Eireann and did a lot in promoting and getting funding for Knock Airport as well as for Knock prior to the Papal visit. He was a wonderful chairman of Mayo County Council and also of the Western Health Board. He served as a member of the Council of Europe for a good many years too.
“When I was in the Dáil, everyone across the political divide would ask me how was PJ keeping down in Mayo. He was very highly regarded as a member of the Dáil. He had a grand way about him that made people feel very much at ease and at home in his company.”
Current Mayo TD Dara Calleary described PJ as “a true gentleman from top to toe, and a politician of the highest integrity. He was an extremely personable individual who was much loved by people across Co Mayo and by all of his colleagues across the political divide.
“As a councillor and a TD, PJ delivered many projects across East Mayo. He was instrumental in securing Government support for Knock Airport, working closely with the late Monsignor Horan to make it a reality. His influence on that project was hugely significant and the delivery of an airport for the West will have a lasting legacy.”
Dara’s father, Seán Calleary who served as a constituency colleague in the Mayo East constituency, said PJ Morley was a real friend. “It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to one of the most honourable politicians that ever served the people of Mayo. I had the pleasure of contesting seven general elections with him. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Mary and family.”
Fianna Fáil Leader, Micheál Martin TD, has expressed his sorrow at the passing of the former Mayo TD. “I served as a TD with PJ and he was a wonderful colleague. PJ was a very effective parliamentarian and he was a diligent worker, both in the Dáil and for the people of Mayo.”
The remains of PJ Morley will lie in repose at Marian Funeral Home in Knock from 5pm until 8pm this evening (Tuesday), followed by removal to Knock Church. After Requiem Mass at 12 noon on Wednesday, interment will take place in Knock cemetery.
PJ is survived by his wife Mary (nee O’Boyle, Main Street, Ballyhaunis), sons Enda (Newfoundland, Canada), Patrick (Castlebar) and Brian (Cloonfaughna), daughter Cathy (Cloonfaughna), daughters-in-law, grandchildren, sisters Mary Noonan (Lisacul), Rene (Canada) and Bridget (England), nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and many friends.