The unexpected death on Monday of Waterford County Councillor, Fianna Fail stalwart and party whip Pat Leahy, has stunned the political fraternity generally in the county and beyond.
The body of Mr. Leahy (60), of Blacknock, Kilmeaden, was taken from a pond on Glanbia farm at Blacknock late on Monday night. It was recovered by Fire Brigade personnel and taken to Waterford Regional Hospital for a post mortem examination.
A native of Drumcollogher in County Limerick, he was in his third term as a Council member, having been first elected in the Tramore Electoral Area in 1991. He subsequently served the Kilmacthomas Electoral Area and was an integral part of the local political landscape through the past sixteen years. A long time member of his party’s National Executive, he was a former chairman of its Waterford Comhairle Dail Ceanntair and served astutely as director for local, national and presidential elections. He was a highly influential supporter of Minister Martin Cullen and was his campaign manager through successive general elections.
Mr. Leahy, a former Waterford Foods employee, loved sport and gleaned tremendous satisfaction from Waterford’s elevation in the hurling world over the past decade. A sturdy hurler himself in his youth, he won two Laois county titles with Borris In Ossory while working in that county.
He leaves his wife Breda (nee Kirwan) and children Paul, who has played soccer for Waterford United, Elaine and Sarah. He is also survived by his brothers and sisters, Liam, John, Thomas, Hannah and Mary.
In a tribute, Minister Cullen said he was deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Mr. Leahy’s sudden passing. “Pat was my colleague as well as campaign manager, but above all he was a loyal, committed friend to me personally and a cherished husband and father to his wife and family”, said Mr. Cullen who extended his sympathy to Breda, his children and extended family.
He added: “Pat enriched the lives of everyone he met. His generosity of spirit, his humour and warmth and his devotion to his family and friends set him apart as a remarkable man.
“I was fortunate to have Pat as my campaign manager over many successful general elections. He was the master of creativity, conversation and planning. He was hugely generous and giving of his time and experience. I always admired his ability to listen to others and the positions he took on behalf of the most marginalised in the county.
“He loved to be involved with people – with their needs and concerns. He was passionate about Waterford, its community of people, its development and its further prosperity. I am grateful to have been his friend”.
Cllr. Pat Daly was another great friend of Mr. Leahy, both personally and politically and he referred to his tireless work ethic on behalf of constituents, as well as his patience and sincerity.
County Mayor, Cllr. Billy Kyne (Lab), said everyone was saddened to hear of his death. He described him as a highly respected councillor whose work for his community was greatly valued. On a personal level, he had lost a valued colleague and trusted friend.
Tramore Town Council’s scheduled monthly meeting on Tuesday night was postponed as a mark of respect while the County Council offices in Dungarvan are to be closed for a period this Thursday, the day of his burial. His County Council colleagues will pay tribute to him at their December meeting next Monday, after which proceedings will no doubt be adjourned.