WHEN former county and town manager Joe Boland retired in 1983, it was said monuments to him could be seen by looking all around Ennis. That is as true today as it was 20 years ago, those gathered at a civic reception held in his honour by Ennis Town Council were told this week.
The civic reception was awarded to Mr Boland in recognition of his contribution to local government over a 40-year period, including his 23-year-term as Clare county and Ennis town manager.
At the event, Mr Boland, who was joined by his wife, Catherine; daughter, Rosita and grandson, Liam, said he felt “deeply honoured” by the occasion. The Kerry native recalled, “I came to Clare on April 1, 1960, more than a half century ago and I came to stay”.
He told how he declined a Government nomination for a senior post in Brussels as Ireland entered what was then the EEC because he wanted to stay in Clare. He spoke of his fond memories of his time at the council, remembering the “occasional jousts” then adding, “but all, I say all, had only one concern in their minds and that was to act in the best interests of the town”.
With the future of town councils now in doubt, he expressed his “fervent hope that the people of Ennis will always have representation and a democratic voice in the government and future development of their town”.
Ennis town manager Ger Dollard recalled how on Mr Boland’s retirement, The Clare Champion featured a front-page story with the headline “Incredible achievements of one man”.
Mr Dollard stated, “The then secretary of the Department of the Environment commented, ‘If people are looking for monuments to Joe Boland, all they have to do is look around them’. That was true in 1983 and it is still true in 2013.”
He commented, “It is an extraordinary achievement that after practically 30 years since Joe retired, his input and involvement in the town is still very much spoken about”.
Ennis Town Council hosted the event in recognition of what it described as the “significant contribution Joe Boland made to County Clare and especially to the development of Ennis between 1960 and 1983”.
Mr Boland was lauded for his direct role in spearheading the development of a strategic plan for industrial and residential development in the town.
Addressing the civic reception, Mayor of Ennis Councillor Peter Considine stated, “During his term as county and town manager, the town of Ennis experienced a period of enormous change. It was under Joe’s stewardship that every opportunity was grasped to ensure that Ennis would be able to become what it is today, one of the largest towns in the region with a proud economic, social, cultural and political history, which is a legacy which we must protect.”
He outlined just some of the projects that “changed the face of Ennis” under Mr Boland’s stewardship, including the development of houses outside of the town centre, the building up of a land bank for future needs, major drainage and water supply schemes, the provision of industrial sites and the provision of the de Valera Library. Mr Boland was a key figure in the arts and cultural life of the town, having been chairman of the Ennis Musical Society, as well as supporting the Ennis Brass Band.
The mayor continued, “While the extension of the Ennis Urban Boundary took place in 1989, Joe also played an important role, prior to retirement, in preparing the ground for its successful conclusion. The extension of the boundary for Ennis was significant in terms of income for the town. We must continue to build on this achievement so as to ensure that the town of Ennis remains the capital of County Clare in terms of tourism, economic development, community engagement and active citizenship.”
During his time as manager, Mr Boland also held the position of chairman of Lisdoonvarna Fáilte Ltd from 1967-1983, director of Syntex Ireland (Roche Ireland), trustee of Clare Social Service Council (now known as ClareCare) from 1968-1983, director of Craggaunowen Project from 1972-1984 and director of Rent an Irish Cottage Ltd from 1976-1978.
“Each of these projects have developed and continued to make significant contributions to the local economy, tourism and community infrastructure,” Councillor Considine added.