'A man from Clare who became the heart of Carlow,' tributes paid to John Browne in Dáil

Rest in Peace

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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news@carlowlive.ie

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John Browne, RIP

"A man from Clare who became the heart of Carlow," said An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil this week as he paid tribute to former Fine Gael TD for Carlow, John Browne.

John, of Ballinacarrig in Carlow and Kilmihil in Clare, passed away peacefully at his home in March surrounded by his loving family and is deeply regretted by his loving wife Nancy, daughters Carmel, Deirdre and Geraldine and son Fergal.

Originally a Clare man, he was first elected to Carlow County Council in 1979. He was then nominated to the Seanad in 1983 and was then elected to Dáil Éireann in 1989 and retired in 2002.

His family, including his son and sitting Carlow councillor, Fergal Browne, travelled to Dublin this week as members paid tributes to their distinguished former colleagues.

An Taoiseach said: "As a Deputy for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency for almost 14 years, and for a time the only Member of this House from County Carlow, John Browne made valuable contributions on issues close to his heart such as European affairs, education, social welfare, the Irish language, criminal law and international development.

"As Fine Gael's spokesperson on justice and health in the early 1990s, he played a significant role in the development of our policies.

"John was a great lover of the Irish language and, as we often saw in this Oireachtas, he did much to encourage its use. Today we remember a man from Clare who became the heart of Carlow.

"He was much loved by everyone who came into contact with him. As we know, John's son Fergal has continued in his career of public service, serving in the Seanad and on Carlow County Council.

"Both men share the honour of being elected chair of Carlow County Council, 17 years apart.

"I wish to offer my condolences to John's loving wife, Nancy, and their four children, Carmel, Deirdre, Geraldine and Fergal, their grandchildren and all their families and friends.

"John was somebody who dedicated his life to politics as a means of helping others and he will be much missed."

Fianna Fáil party leader, Micheál Martin said: "John Browne was first elected to the Dáil in 1989, the same year as my good self, and we had a very good and enjoyable relationship.

"He had previously contested general elections in 1981 and 1987 but, once elected, he retained his seat at the 1992 and 1997 general elections before retiring at the 2002 election.

"He had turned 65 at that time and had recently undergone major heart surgery. Remarkably, given his long career as a public representative in Carlow, he was a native of County Clare.

"That speaks to the unique DNA of Clare people when it comes to politics, something we in Fianna Fáil know only too well and which we hope will flourish not so much in future elections.

"He was a lovely family man and a very decent individual. He had a great sense of community and was very involved in the Gaelic Athletic Association.

"He told me of one weekend when he had been in west Cork and met my late father, who was on holiday there. They had a great conversation, though he did not realise it was my father he was speaking to, and they discussed non-political matters from the GAA to other issues.

"It showed that he had a basic sense that there was life outside politics. He was well rounded and had great breadth in his philosophy towards life.

"His political life stemmed from his active community involvement. He liked to help other people and he believed in making a positive contribution.

"He made serious contributions to debates in this House and he was a man of wit and culture, as one would expect from a former teacher.

"When Charles Haughey was in the process of standing down in 1992, Deputy Browne rose to quote Hamlet, telling him: 'Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels see thee to thy rest!'

"After retiring from politics, he stayed actively involved in the community, especially in the GAA, where he chaired the county juvenile committee, and he rejoined us earlier this year in the Mansion House to mark the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann.

"He was well appreciated as the quality public servant he truly was. I offer my sympathies to his wife Nancy, to whom he was married for 53 years, their four children Carmel, Deirdre, Geraldine and Fergal, the last of whom was a colleague of ours in the Seanad from 2002 to 2007, and his 11 grandchildren."

Other speakers who paid tribute to John were Carlow TD Pat Deering, John Paul Phelan, Bobby Aylward, Pearse Doherty, Brendan Howlin and Michael Harty.