Since this House met a fortnight ago, a familiar figure has been taken from amongst us. Senators learned with shocked surprise of the unexpected death of our friend and colleague, Senator William Quirke. At that meeting, the late Senator was in attendance in his usual robust health.
Senator Quirke was a member of Seanad Éireann from 1931 until its abolition in 1936. When the Seanad was reconstituted in 1938, he was elected a member on the Agricultural Panel and served either as Leader of the House or as Leader of the Opposition until his death.
William Quirke was a man of outstanding personality, great-hearted and gay, a true friend and devoted comrade. He was a vigorous politician, firm and faithful in his own principles and beliefs, but he never allowed his politics to mar his personal relationships.
He loved Ireland well and was prominently identified with the military side of the movement for independence. But his interests and activities extended also to other spheres. He was a businessman, keenly alive to anything which would make for the economic advancement of the State. He was a pioneer in the development of the Irish bogs and was at an early stage a director of the Turf Development Board. He was also a member of the Agricultural Credit Corporation and of the Racing Board. But it was in the bloodstock industry that his greatest interest lay. He was a member of the Council of the Bloodstock Association of Ireland —the body which nominated him to the Seanad and whose effective spokesman he always was.
For some years prior to his death, Senator Quirke resided in Dublin but he remained to the end a countryman and above all a Tipperary man. For a period he was Mayor of Clonmel and helped in many directions to further the development of that town.
He had an important role to play at all times in the Seanad and acquitted himself well with unfailing good humour. The House and its development owe much to him. He served on nearly every one of our committees and in committee he was always helpful and co-operative.
The late Senator had a varied and colourful career and his speeches had freshness, precision and well-marshalled thought. It is true to say that, though he could be forthright and hard-hitting, he had no malice. His loss will be keenly felt by all members of the House.