Drogheda Independent - - NEWS -

THE DEATH of Aly Far­rell last week brought back mem­o­ries of a dif­fer­ent time in lo­cal po­lit­i­cal cir­cles. He was part of a fam­ily that had pol­i­tics rush­ing through the veins and - pretty uniquely - both he and his fa­ther were may­ors of the town.

He had an un­cle on both sides of his fam­ily on the Repub­li­can side in the Civil War, one of them be­ing wounded while cov­er­ing the re­treat from Dundalk of Frank Aiken.

In 1974, when Far­rell was first elected to the lo­cal coun­cil, a new gen­er­a­tion of mem­bers also took up their seats, in­clud­ing Frank God­frey. One of his main po­lit­i­cal aims was the re­form of lo­cal gov­ern­ment, a sys­tem he be­lieved badly needed shak­ing up.

Down the years he worked with such names as Michael and Betty Bell (a neigh­bour in his young days), Paddy Buck­ley, Peter Hughes, Fer­gus O’Dowd, Pat Carr, Jimmy Mul­roy, Jackie Mur­ray, Ray Dempsey, Peter Moore and oth­ers.

Aly held the post of Mayor in 1978-79 and it was fa­mously a year of un­rest as res­i­dents of St Finian’s Park were an­gry about struc­tural faults in their homes. Months af­ter he left the post, €3m was al­lo­cated by the gov­ern­ment for the re­con­struc­tion of the faulty homes af­ter he led dep­u­ta­tions to the min­is­ter.

He was a boxer in his youth and it was in the Drogheda Am­a­teur Box­ing club that he first struck up a friend­ship with two lo­cal men who were later to be elected onto the cor­po­ra­tion with him, Deputy Michael Bell and Ald. Tommy Mur­phy. Later, when he joined the FCA in 1956, it was Bell who trained him.

He was ap­pointed to the North East­ern Health Board in 1983 and at­tacked the ‘scan­dal’ of young mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis pa­tients be­ing put into geri­atric wards in hos­pi­tals.

More than any other is­sue, his op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed clo­sure of. St. Marys Hospi­tal in Drogheda and lo­cal ser­vice charges, brought him into sharp con­flict with his party. In the run-up to an F.F. Dail se­lec­tion


con­ven­tion in 19861986, he claimed thathat he was “be­ing shafted” by se­nior party of­fi­cials in Co. Louth.

He was in­tent to “put the com­mu­nity be­fore the party”. In­deed, the row be­came so bit­ter that he made a state­ment to the lo­cal press that he was “be­ing shafted by sons of Blueshirts”.

Aly re­tired from the Bor­ough Coun­cil in June 1989 af­ter he took up his role as an army cap­tain.

He served for nine years and re­tired in 1998, af­ter al­most 42 years in the forces.

He held two com­mis­sions, one in the FCA and the other in the Per­ma­nent De­fence Forces - pre­sented un­der the Pres­i­den­cies of Ea­mon de Valera and Pa­trick Hillery - and was the first FCA of­fi­cer to be com­mis­sioned into the PDF in 1989.

The Cap­tain en­listed in the FCA in Jan­uary 1957 in the South Louth Bat­tal­ion (FCA) and was posted to ‘B’ Coy, 8th In­fantry Bn (FCA) on ‘in­te­gra­tion’ in 1959.

Dur­ing the lat­ter part of 1969, in the rank of Sergeant, he was called up in aid of the civil process and be­tween then and June 1972 (when he was com­mis­sioned as an of­fi­cer of the FCA) he per­formed se­cu­rity and other du­ties in Castle­blaney Mil­iary Post, at the Boyne Viaduct and on pa­trols to Garda Sta­tions in the gen­eral area of South Louth, East Meath, at Dry­bridge ESB Sta­tion, Mount Oriel, and train guards from McBride Sta­tion, Drogheda to Con­nolly Sta­tion, Dublin.

From June 1972 on­wards, as a com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer of An FCA, he per­formed the du­ties of Or­derly Of­fi­cer at the then Gor­manston Air Sta­tion. When he was com­mis­sioned as an of­fi­cer in 1989, he served with ‘B’ Coy, 27th In­fantry Bn.

At his re­tire­ment, Com­man­dant A. J. Dono­van, said that they had come to­gether to show their re­spect, hon­our and in­deed af­fec­tion for Cap­tain Far­rell. He said that among his du­ties, at one stage, was to act as train guard and although this might be con­sid­ered a te­dious job, it was nev­er­the­less a very im­por­tant one.

In per­form­ing th­ese and other du­ties, Com­man­dant Dono­van said, ‘ no one knows what we saved this coun­try from.’ There was abun­dant ev­i­dence from a wide cir­cle of friends and ac­quain­tances, he said that Aly Far­rell was a man of the high­est in­tegrity.

‘He comes from the honourable, no­ble, de­cent end of the spec­trum’ he added. He found him to be a very hu­man per­son, very de­cent, very kind, with a tremen­dous sense of hon­our, ‘and a ter­rific an­a­lyst of lo­cal and na­tional is­sues.’

Fit­tingly, last Thurs­day, his cof­fin, draped in the Tri­colour, was car­ried from St Mary’s on the broad shoul­ders of mem­bers of the Ir­ish army, the ONE flank­ing his hearse also.

Mayor Pio Smith, Cllrs Tommy Byrne and Frank God­frey also at­tended with Thomas Byrne TD.

Aly is sur­vived by wife Breda and chil­dren An­toinette, Mona, Sinéad and Ea­monn, rel­a­tives and many friends from the po­lit­i­cal and army world down the years.

His burial was to Cal­vary.

The cortege to Cal­vary fol­low­ing Aly Far­rell’s fu­neral in St Mary’s Church

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.