Modesty put Cosgraves in a league of their own
HISTORIANS may argue about whether Liam Cosgrave was a safe pair of hands or a cunning operator who preserved the security of the State during the Troubles.
But perhaps what was just as impressive about the late Taoiseach were his simple tastes, which are wholly at odds with what we have come to accept from leaders today. Mr Cosgrave’s modest home – a bungalow in Dublin’s Rathfarnham – comes as a surprise to anyone who sees it, while his funeral yesterday lacked the usual pomp and ceremony due to deceased leaders.
He may have inherited his modesty from his father WT Cosgrave, who was scrupulous about saving the public purse unnecessary expenditure. When WT left high office in 1932, according to his son he walked away ‘without a pension… or without gratuity or severance pay… Most of his colleagues, like himself, had little and some of them had nothing. They had no occupation’.
Likewise, when WT died he was given a State funeral but his family met the expenses. Liam insisted on paying, saying years later: ‘Whatever the cost was, it didn’t fall on the State. He wouldn’t have countenanced anything like being buried at public expense.’
WT Cosgrave died in 1965, his son this week. Their down-to-earth values and insistence on paying their way rather than burden the State financially casts them as honourable men of a distant bygone time.