Frank Feely

Frank Feely, the Dublin City Manager who 'ran' the capital for 17 years, has died

Feely is best remembered for his role in the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebration.

FRANK FEELY, WHO served as Dublin City Manager from 1979 until 1996, has died at the age of 93.

During his time in charge of Dublin County and City Council and later Dublin City Council (formerly known as Dublin Corporation), Feely oversaw several important milestones in the capital over the course of his career, including the visit of US President Bill Clinton 1996. 

He is credited with leading the programme to drastically reduce Dublin’s 10,000-strong housing list during the eighties, the pedestrianisation of Grafton St, and is perhaps best-known for the 1988 Millennium campaign. 

The campaign, while historically dubious, proposed to celebrate one thousand of years of Dublin city, and generate economic activity and increased cultural engagement in the capital.

The yearlong celebration was marked by half-price fares on the DART, commemorative events, new public spaces, street art, and music, during a time when Ireland’s economic fortunes were a cause of great concern. 

A centre-piece of the celebrations was the Dublin Street Carnival, a July parade which featured over 200 performers in full costume, led by the New Jersey Emerald Pipe Band.

Feely also oversaw the establishment of the large civic office building on Wood Quay. The development was controversial due to archaeologically significant discoveries made at the site, and the High Court initially ruled that the site was a national monument. 

Asked by RTÉ about the building, Feely said: “I don’t feel proud of it, I don’t feel ashamed of it”.

Contemporary reporting refers to the larger-than-life nature of Feely’s character, with one report in the Sunday Press offering the description that Feely “bestrides the city like a colossus”, while a 1996 report in the Irish Times reads: “If anyone could be said to have ‘run’ Dublin over the past 16 years, it is Frank Feely.”

News of Feely’s death was confirmed in a statement issued by Dublin City Council on Monday afternoon. 

The statement reads: “Mr Feely was the Dublin City and County Manager from 1979 to 1993 and then Dublin City Manager from 1993 until his retirement in 1996. Mr Feely joined Dublin Corporation as a clerk in 1949. He was a committed public servant, who made a significant contribution to the life of Dublin city and its citizens during a long career.”

Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy paid her respects to Feely in her own statement, saying: “As Lord Mayor, I wish to offer both my own and Dublin City Council’s condolences to his family and friends. Frank was a hardworking and dedicated employee of Dublin City Council.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time. May he rest in peace. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam”.

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