Tosh (Thomas) Hearne

Tosh (Thomas) Hearne

It’s sixty years since Tramore elected its first Town Commissioners and among the special guests at the diamond anniversary celebrations this week was the only surviving candidate from 1948.

Tosh (Thomas) Hearne, in the army at the time, was one of three men who contested the election “on behalf of the workers”. The other two, both postmen, were Stan Lennon and John “Steel” O’Brien and the latter won a seat.

“There was a meeting of workers at which three of us were nominated to go forward with the aim of aiding the cause of the ordinary man and woman. I’d like to think that Stan and I helped get Steel in”, Tosh recalled as he prepared for the celebration party in the local, plush Civic Offices on Tuesday night.

He wasn’t at all disappointed not to get elected himself. “It was a novelty at the time and we didn’t take it too seriously”, he recollected at his comfortable Marian Terrace home. .

He didn’t stand again but in fact Tosh, 89 last Saturday, has since contributed more to his community than many a dedicated politician. A founder member of both Tramore Boxing Club, which he then served as long time secretary and the town’s Credit Union, to which his contributions through the years were many-faceted, he is also a Past President of the CBS Past Pupils Union.

As a young man he boxed for a spell at welterweight level and he has a passing interest in horseracing, but his prime passion in sport is soccer. Liverpool has always been his team and long before the term was fashionable he was a striker – and an effective one too – with Tramore Rookies. At the time the town only had the one soccer team and it played in the Munster Senior League as well as the Waterford Junior League.

The game is much faster now than in his day and it has become “too professional”, Tosh reckons.

Originally from Waterford Road, Tramore, he married Mamie in 1949 and they had a family of four: John, Superior at Mount Merrion Christian Brothers Monastery in Dublin; Tom, a Storeman in Sydney, Australia; Tony, an Electrical Engineer based in Dublin; and only daughter Maureen (Corcoran), who lives locally at Moonloun. Mamie died young in 1969, leaving Tosh a widower since then.

He retired from the army in 1952, having reached the rank of Sergeant and worked at Sloan’s drapery and furniture store in Waterford’s Michael St. until it closed down in 1982.

At the time of his tilt at local politics Tosh wasn’t attached to any particular party but subsequently threw in his lot with Fine Gael and was local branch secretary for many years. He’s disappointed, however, with the party’s current standing. “They’re not going very well – the leadership is too weak”, is his verdict. And he doesn’t see any obvious candidates who might radically alter the situation either.

How about Tramore then and now – 1948 compared to 2008? “At that time everyone knew everybody else in the town”, he remembers. “And you could leave your door open day or night. Today’s crime is definitely a big negative factor”.

But people are better off materially – and more confident in themselves, which is a good thing, Tosh concedes. The town still needs industry though to create jobs.

The celebration party, to which all surviving Commissioners were also invited, was hosted by Mayor Joe Conway and the Town Council – the Commissioners having been upgraded in status in 2001.