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Sinn Fein local election candidate Mike Mc Kee of Shannon. Photograph by John Kelly

Fitting tribute to true champion of Shannon

A PLAQUE has been erected at the bandstand in the Town Park, in memory of the late Mike McKee.

Mr McKee was a member of the Shannon Town Council for many years, while in 2014 he was the first Sinn Féin representative elected to Clare Council Council since the 1970s.

While he retained his seat in 2019, he was seriously ill by the time of the election and died that November.

Donna McGettigan was co-opted onto the Council in his place, and she said the plaque honouring Mike is a very suitable gesture.

“It was proposed by PJ Ryan, just before I came onto the Council, he proposed naming the bandstand after Mike, which was very appropriate considering Mike was involved with music.

“Mike worked hard with his Council colleagues to get that park going, so it’s very fitting.”

Due to Covid restrictions only a small number of people attending the unveiling of the plaque, but she said it went very well.

“It was a lovely ceremony, the councillors that were there got to speak about the work that he did for Shannon, I said a few words also, it was just a lovely ceremony.”

Councillor McGettigan said Mr McKee made a superb contribution to Shannon and is greatly missed.

“He was a huge loss and you could see that from the outpouring of grief when he did pass. Even still, when people talk about him they say he is a huge loss to Shannon.

“I’m trying my best to fill his very large shoes. To me he was a personal friend for many years, so he wasn’t just a Sinn Féin colleague to me, he was my mentor, my hero.

“He fought hard for things in the town and that stood to him at elections and when he passed there was that outpouring of grief.

“People weren’t just talking about him as a councillor, they were other connections too. There was one story we heard at the ceremony, a man who was getting married said that the priest asked where the couple met and he said, ‘At Mike McKee’s disco’. There are all these personal stories that led back to Mike.”

She said it is still hard to accept that he is gone. “Even two years on I’d think to myself ‘Mike would love that’ or ‘I’d like to ask Mike’s advice on this.’ It’s still pretty hard to imagine him not being here.”

She said that Mike had loved the unique composition of Shannon’s community.

“His view of Shannon was that we might be outsiders, but that’s what Shannon is, Shannon was built on people from outside coming in and building a very unique community.

“I find if something goes on in Shannon the community are very strong, and it comes from people from different backgrounds coming together, which is very special and unique to Shannon.

“It doesn’t belong to anyone, it belongs to everyone. We always spoke about that and he had that sense of pride in Shannon.”

by Owen Ryan

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