“To use the words of Eamon Dunphy: You weren’t just a good chairman, in my opinion you were a great chairman.”
These words of praise from Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh were among the tributes paid to Cllr Paul Cuddihy as his term as chairman of Kilkenny County Council came to an end on Friday afternoon at the council’s annual general meeting.
“You did a great job,” his Fine Gael colleague said. “I have said it behind your back and I am happy to say it to your face.”
Fianna Fáil Cllr Matt Doran paid tribute to Cllr Cuddihy for being “exceptionally fair, honest and your enthusiasm was exemplary,” and Labour Cllr Michael O’Brien praised Cllr Cuddihy for “putting (his) marker down on a number of things.”
County manager Joe Crockett highlighted Cllr Cuddihy’s achievements of hosting a celebratory evening for the Tidy Towns groups around the county, presenting awards to hard-working local businesses for their resilience despite the recession, and being instrumental in the handing over of funds for the refurbishment of the Dunmore community centre.
Mr Crockett also praised Cllr Cuddihy for “carrying off with aplomb” the visit of the Chinese twinning delegation and the visit by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to open the ICT research centre at the NUI Maynooth outreach campus at St Kieran’s College.
Cllr Cuddihy in turn thanked his fellow members, council officials and the council’s indoor and outdoor staff for their support during his year as chairman. He also thanked Cllr David Fitzgerald, who served as mayor for the year.
Reflected on the role of chairman, Cllr Cuddihy said: “It is an honourable office and I am glad I had it.”
With the highlights from the year too numerous to list, he looked to what he hopes will be a brighter future for Kilkenny and Ireland as a whole. Recalling his visits to villages across the county to witness their Tidy Towns efforts, he said: “I did get out to many of the villages to see their flowers in bloom, and there is, despite the problems we are experiencing, a great pride of place throughout this county.”
Noting the agreement that was reached among European leaders in the early hours of Friday morning, he added: “We have a long way to go in this country but I would hope that we are beginning to see glimmers of hope for all who live here.”
And with the “decade of commemoration that Ireland is entering into,” marking centenaries including the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and World War I, he said he hoped it would be a time of reflection, looking to Ireland’s past and also its future.