The Seanad will now hear tributes to the late Rory Kiely. Before I invite Senators to contribute, I extend a very warm welcome to the members of Rory’s family who are with us - his children, Vincent, Roderick, Mairéad and Aileen, with their spouses; his sister, Eileen, and extended family and friends. Also in attendance are some of his former Oireachtas colleagues and comrades-in-arms - John Cregan, Liam Aylward, Batt O’Keeffe, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Donie Cassidy, Fiona O'Malley, Geraldine Feeney, Councillor Eamonn Aylward, Deputy Dara Calleary, Mary Cowen who is representing former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Deputy Michael Collins. I hope I have not missed anyone. I add Deputy Barry Cowen and apologise for omitting him. On behalf of the Members of the Seanad, I again express our sincere sympathy to all those present and hope that, since Rory's unexpected death in June last year, they have been able to come to terms with their very sad loss.
Rory lived a life which had community and public service at its centre. To say he was steeped in the GAA and politics is an understatement. He was first elected to the Seanad in 1977 on the Agriculture Panel. It began a 30-year career in this House in which he served with great distinction. He was a hard and constructive worker in the Seanad in which, as in the GAA, he achieved high office. It was a great honour and privilege for him and his family when he was elected as Cathaoirleach on 12 September 2002. His wife, Eileen, was present in the Visitors Gallery on that wonderful occasion but predeceased him.
Rory represented the Seanad at home and abroad with great honour and respect. I had the privilege of serving as a Member while he was here. We were of different political viewpoints, but that did not prevent us from being friends. At his funeral last year the Cathaoirleach brought to the altar a copy of the Constitution of Ireland as a symbol of Rory’s role as Cathaoirleach and Senator. The Cathaoirleach has asked me to convey to his family his sympathy. He is heartily saddened that, on doctor’s orders, he cannot be here in person on this very important day to pay tribute to his friend.
Rory began his involvement in the GAA in the 1950s and it continued for over 60 years. As well as being an accomplished hurler - he won Limerick senior club hurling titles in the 1960s - he was also chairman of the Limerick County Board, a Munster Council delegate and a trustee of the GAA in Croke Park. He was chairman of the Limerick County Board when Limerick won the all-Ireland hurling final in 1973. It is a great pity that he was not in Croke Park to witness the Liam McCarthy cup going back to Limerick in 2018. His spirit must certainly have been in Croke Park on that memorable day in the month of August.
Rory will be fondly remembered in this House for his warmth, humour and loyalty. Personally, he was affable and pleasant and a great man to talk politics. He had some great stories about political life in west Limerick - Members and our guests know much more about it than I do - a most interesting constituency in which to be, but I will not go into them today. It would be remiss of me, however, not to mention his huge interest in horse racing. I understand and, in fact, know that he was part of several successful syndicates with other Oireachtas Members and also bred horses on his family farm in Feenagh. The family farm was a huge part of his life and he never lost interest in or his love for farming. His heart was always in Feenagh with his family who were central to everything he did. He was a great character and a great Limerick man. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
I call Senator Ned O'Sullivan to lead the tributes from his side of the Chamber.