Chief Executive of Waterford City and County Council, Michael Walsh retired from his role on Friday, 31st May, last.

A native of Ballyduff Upper, his career in public service began in 1983, after graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering from UCC.  He began his career with Waterford County Council and worked in various engineering roles between Waterford and Limerick before progressing to the role of Director of Services with Waterford City Council and becoming Waterford City Manager in 2007.

In June 2014 he was appointed Chief Executive of the newly amalgamated Waterford City and County Council, to oversee the merger of the former city and county councils as part of local government reform.

Over the course of the decade, Michael has been credited with fulfilling the Council’s mission statement of establishing Waterford as a vibrant and sustainable place to live, work and invest in.

Key projects, under his stewardship include securing almost €200m investment in the North Quays Strategic Development Zone (SDZ), leading Waterford City and County Council in delivering on all housing tenures and leading in the tackling of vacancy and dereliction, the regeneration of rural towns and villages under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), the establishment of the Waterford Greenway, consolidation of Waterford’s rich history and heritage, and playing an integral role in the establishment of the South East Technological University.

He also received praise for his role in the relocation of Waterford Crystal Centre to the heart of the city in 2010.  Walsh’s multi-faceted approach to the regeneration of the Viking Triangle has helped create a vibrant urban quarter and world-class destination.

Paying tribute to the outgoing Chief Executive, Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Joe Conway said: “Michael will leave a remarkable legacy.  From City Manager to Chief Executive of a newly amalgamated local authority, Michael navigated uncharted waters with his indefatigable sense of calm, collectedness, and determination”.

“I know I speak for my fellow councillors, as each of us had the opportunity to pay tribute to him at last month’s final Council meeting of this term.  The overwhelming sentiment was one of gratitude for the steadfast commitment Michael has shown to Waterford over the last ten years.  His sense of pride in Waterford was also tempered with realism and his ability to underpin the best strategic direction of the city and county,” said Mayor Conway.

“On a personal level, I’ve known Michael for well over twenty years having been elected to Tramore Town Council in 2004, and as a school Principal before that, and for as long as I’ve known him and worked with him, there is no one more committed to Waterford and its people.  And behind that gritty veneer, there was a humanity and softness that often shone through that formed his caring attitudes and which I grew to admire and appreciate,” Mayor Conway said, adding: “Ina iomlán, rinne sé gaisce ar mhaithe le Phort Láirge, a fhoireann agus a mhuintir”.

Under Michael’s tenure several key initiatives were implemented such as the launch of the Shop Waterford, Support Local campaign to bolster local businesses and retail sectors impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, along with the introduction of a citizen freephone number, which allowed isolated or cocooning individuals to arrange for groceries or deliveries and provided reassurance that someone was there for them.

Beyond local achievements, he also served as the Chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA), the representative voice of local government management, leading out on its strategic direction in representing, advocating and influencing policy on behalf of local authorities.