COUNTY CLARE’S LONGEST serving county councillor has died. PJ Burke, from Cloonlaheen, who his colleagues said was “well into his 90s” was first elected to the council 72 years ago.
His father and grandfather had also served on the local authority.
Current Mayor Joe Arkins told TheJournal.ie Burke was a “father figure” for his colleagues and “very much a man of rural Ireland”.
“He never drove a car, but got to town every day through the years and did his council business.”
“He was very much involved in the campaign for the development of health services at Ennis General Hospital, and vehemently opposed any downgrading of it.
Burke was first elected to Clare County Council in 1941 – a position he held for only one year after Fianna Fáil Minister Sean McEntee announced the abolition of the local authority
He successfully ran for election in 1945 when the body was reconstituted, but lost his seat in 1950.
From 1960 on, he retained his seat in the Milltown Electoral Area in five subsequent elections (topping the poll four times) until his retirement 1999.
Fellow independent councillor Christy Curtin said his colleague had been an “emphatic” campaigner for health services in the area and he had been “really a full-time politician”
“He was really working all the time for his constituents and representing them. He was a major contributor to debates in the chamber.”
Burke will be laid to rest following funeral mass at midday on Saturday at Coore church, Doonogan – near Miltown Malbay.