Tribute to my late colleague John Carty

JCThe last occasion I remember John being present in this House was in June 2013, when we paid tribute to his great friend, confidant and neighbour, P.J. Morley.  It is still hard to believe, nearly a year to the day from his death, that John has left us.  Today we welcome Kathleen, Lisa, Ciara, James, Cathal, John Henry, Eamonn, Caoimhín and Iarla, as well as the extended Carty, Regan and Byrne families.  We also have some of his colleagues, as I see former Deputies John Ellis, Johnny Brady and Eamon Scanlon, as well as many of his friends.

John had many traits, including decency, integrity and public service.  He was very republican-minded and independent.  He learned those traits right across this country as an agricultural officer and brought them to the halls of this building both as a Deputy and a Senator.  He had a fantastic sense of humour and a sense of unbelievable mischief.  There was no better man to hop a ball and leave while the ball left disruption after it.  Above all, he had 100% commitment to every job and task he took on.  From his election to Mayo County Council in 1999 to his retirement from Seanad Éireann in 2011, he has left an impressive record of delivery across the county.  There are dozens of schools, community and sporting facilities, water and road schemes that owe their existence to John Carty and his work.  They were all delivered without fanfare or fuss.  There are thousands of families across the county who sought John’s intervention on personal matters and got that in a quiet, determined and focused fashion.

John was one of the first of Monsignor James Horan’s airport disciples and he was there at the beginning of that dream.  He travelled the highways and byways of this country seeking support for that dream and it is especially fitting that through John Carty’s perseverance, hard work and commitment, he was able to secure €26 million for the airport, meaning it can be on the footing it has today.

Politics was not everything for John, which should be a lesson for all of us.  He had a rich and varied life outside this House and a lifelong interest in history, especially family history.  He could tell anybody about his relations going back through generations.  His expertise in the area was captured on the morning of his funeral by Fr. Richard Gibbons, the parish priest at Knock, who mused at Mass that morning that John was probably at that time telling our Lord that his people were not originally from Nazareth but went behind that.

He was most proud of his family.  We revelled in the tales he shared of his family’s various and varied adventures and he was proud of each and every family member.  He always said that Kathleen was the rock on which he was able to serve politics in anything he did and on which his fantastic family was built.  He was happiest when he was in Carrowmore with all his family and friends around him.  We miss him as a colleague and friend and we cannot begin to imagine how his family misses him.  One never left him without feeling better.  He occasionally would burst into song and one of his favourite lines was from “Oklahoma!” and he would say “there’s a bright golden haze on the meadow”.  Wherever John Carty is today, there is a very bright golden haze.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.