Tommy Foley (86) from St John’s Park recently passed away surrounded by his loving family. He leaves behind a proud legacy of public, political and sporting service as an elected official for over 30 years.
Tributes were paid at Monday’s meeting of Kerry County Council where Tommy served as a councilor until his retirement in 2009.
Board leadership said Tommy has consistently shown great interest and dedication to his work over many years.
Mayor of Tralee Cllr Johnnie Wall described him as ‘a great man for the locality’ and a proud worker.
“Tommy’s theme song for the election was ‘I’m a worker.’ Tommy drove around town every day, so he knew the town’s issues and he brought them to council,” Mayor Wall said.
Sinn Fein Cllr Cathal Foley served with Tommy on Council in the late 1990s, where he said he was always highly respected.
“Workers’ rights have been a big issue for him throughout his years of action. As a Kerins O’Rahilly man, Tommy won three county championship medals in 1953, 1954 and 1957 at the age of 20,” he said.
“He was also very involved in Tralee boxing and will be remembered very much for his efforts to keep boxing in Tralee,” added Cllr Foley.
Fine Gael Cllr Jim Finucane said Tommy had represented the people of Tralee and St John’s Park all his life.
“He was very committed to the town center and a strong supporter of tourism projects and all things Foley’s Glen amenities,” he said.
But family is what Tommy lived and loved most for. His wife Margaret and their children were the rock of his life.
His granddaughter, Jennifer, recited a moving poem at her funeral mass which captured Tommy’s loving influence and connection to his grandchildren.
Kerins O’Rahilly’s GAA Club held a guard of honor, while a Strand Road jersey, the tricolor and stars were placed on his coffin.
Risteard O’Fuarain gave the speech from the grave revealing Tommy’s political principles and sang James Connolly’s ballet to reflect his republican and socialist beliefs.
“I was able to tell my father just before he died that we were doing this for him. I think he was glad to know that because it was his wish. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. He was always there for us,” his son Teddy told the Kerryman.
Born at Johnson’s Lodge in Ballyard, Tommy grew to love nature and his family ties to the locality.
He was first elected in 1979 and went undefeated in the Urban District Council elections until his retirement in 2009. He was chairman of the SVP and KCC on several occasions.
His proudest day came when he was president of the KCC when he led the Kerryman’s Association in New York up Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day.
Tommy began his political career with Sinn Féin and sided with the civil servants in the infamous split of Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in 1969. He later became the first member of the Workers’ Party to hold the office of President of an urban council in 1982.
He was a constant campaigner and committed campaigner for many of Tralee’s amenity areas including The Green, Foley’s Glen, Canal Walk and Swan Pond, Ballysedy Wood and Foster’s field (now Pairc Pádraig Mac Piaraisna).
May he rest in peace.