TRIBUTES have been paid to the legacy of an award-winning “community leader” in South-East Clare.
A veil of sadness descended in O’Briensbridge last week following the death of former community group chairperson, Mick Murtagh (82), in University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
Councillor Tony O’Brien said Mr Murtagh was a very passionate about his local community.
“Mick Murtagh worked that passion to make a huge contribution to his community. He worked tirelessly and selflessly for the betterment of others. He was a leader in community activity.”
O’Brien’sbridge community group chairperson, Margaret O’Connor, said it was with great sadness and regret that people learned of the sudden passing of their dear friend and neighbour, Mick Murtagh.
“Mick walked the riverbank daily with his dog, Patch. He was out walking the same route just days before he passed away.
“Mick worked tirelessly and passionately on behalf of his beloved communities of Montpelier and O’Brien’sbridge.
“His love for his native place was evident in all he did. He inspired some wonderful developments, such as, our beautiful riverside walkways and loop walks. His legacy will be there for generations to enjoy. We are eternally grateful to him for that.
“Mick loved nature, wildlife and the environment. He did much to protect our river Shannon from pollution. In his work as ESB Fisheries Officer and in a private capacity, he ensured the protection of our fisheries and wildlife.”
Mr Murtagh worked for years developing several local amenities such as the National O’Brien’sbridge Looped Walks, and campaigned for traffic calming measures to slow down heavy goods vehicles using the village.
On December, 2012, he was presented with a heritage award by RTÉ presenter, Mary Kennedy. He helped numerous high profile fishermen and visiting anglers to enjoy fishing in the area.
They included legendary Republic of Ireland soccer manager, Jack Charlton, Matt Hayes of Total Fishing Fame and the Discovery Channel, international singer, Tony Bennett, Bruce Jones, better known as Les Battersby in Coronation Street, and film maker and environmentalist, Dick Warner.
His Funeral Mass was concelebrated by Fr Willie Teehan.
Mr Murtagh also featured in a Clare Champion story highlighting the lack of beds in UHL after spending two days on a trolley while he was recovering from a quadruple heart bypass.
The former Green Party Local Elections’ candidate had five blackouts shortly after the 2018 All-Ireland senior hurling final, three at home and two in the ambulance.
He said at the time that vulnerable elderly patients should be prioritised after serious surgery when it comes to the provision of beds.
Speaking at his Funeral Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Castleconnell, co- parish priest, Fr Tom Whelan, said Mick Murtagh loved his garden.
“Mick was a great support of Limerick hurling, rugby and sport, which were central to his life.
Mick worked all his life in Castleconnell fisheries, which he absolutely loved. He was instrumental in many of the things that are now in place to the Salmon Weir at the World’s End, to the fishing areas, walkways and gardens, playground, restocking of the river with eel and salmon.
“He showed fishermen like Jack Charlton places to fish when he came to Castleconnell. He knew and loved that river inside out.
“He also loved all the nature surrounding it and the ecosystem of birds and trees, down to Patch his dog, which were all part of his life.
“Michael was involved in his local community in so many ways. He had a place for people in his heart. He contributed a great deal to Castleconnell and O’Briensbridge through his life and work.”
Daughter, Sarah, thanked her father for providing a great home and for being there when things went wrong to keep all their lives together.
“He taught us that hard work pays off and you reap what you sow.
“His constant good example always taught us right from wrong. He built a strong foundation that no one can take away.
“While I will always miss you Dad, I know you are by my side. If I could write a story, it would be the greatest ever told of a kind and loving father who had a heart of gold.”
Fr Whelan said they were joined online by the deceased’s brother, Sylvester, in England.
He is sadly missed by his loving wife, Mary, sons and daughters, Cathal, Grainne, Orla, Fergal, Shane, Ailish, Michéal and Sarah, daughters-in-law, sons in law, grandchildren, great grandchildren, brothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces, neighbours, relatives and a large circle of friends.
Burial took place in O’Brien’sbridge cemetery.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.
by Dan Danaher