Joe Mooney (politician)

For other people named Joe Mooney, see Joe Mooney (disambiguation).

Joseph Mary Plunkett "Joe" Mooney (26 May 1916 in Drumshanbo Co. Leitrim 21 January 1988), was named after Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the Leaders of the 1916 Rising who was executed on May 4, 1916. His father Andrew Mooney (born Kilteevan Co.Roscommon) married Josephine Gaffney of Drumshanbo in New York in 1908 and relocated to Drumshanbo where he ran the family business of Bar, Grocery and Drapery shop. Elected a Sinn Féin Councillor in 1919 Andrew Mooney was interned in Ballykinlar Camp Co.Down by the British forces during the War of Independence and following his release in late 1921 he took the pro Treaty side joining Cumann na nGaedhael but left that Party over a Dáil nomination dispute in 1929. He remained can Independent Councillor until his sudden death at the age of 59 on May Eve 1943.

Joseph Mary or Joe as he was best known was nominated to his late Father's seat in 1943 and served until his sudden death on 21 January 1988. He was an Independent member of Leitrim Co.Council until 1961 when he joined Fianna Fáil and stood unsuccessfully as a Dáil candidate in the General Election of that year for the Sligo-Leitrim (the Leitrim portion split in half with South Leitrim going into a new Roscommon/Leitrim Constituency). In December 1961, An Taoiseach Seán Lemass nominated Joe Mooney to Seanad Éireann, the first person from the Province of Connacht to be so honoured. It was said at the time that Lemass nominated Joe Mooney to help regain a Fianna Fáil seat in Leitrim lost at a by-election in 1960 to Fine Gael candidate Joe McLoughlin. It was also generally known within the Mooney family that An Taoiseach had heard Joe speak at an election rally in Sligo during the Election and was very impressed with his rhetoric.

Joe served as a Senator until 1965 when Lemass called a surprise general election. Already a shoo-in for the Fianna Fáil nomination, many delegates did not travel to Manorhamilton for the selection convention as they did not anticipate a vote. There was widespread shock when a coup organised by party elements in Sligo anxious to keep the popular Leitrim politician out of the race and similar factions in North Leitrim who wanted a North Leitrim-based candidate swung delegates behind a Manorhamilton-based 69-year-old retired Doctor who won the nomination on a close vote. He subsequently failed to regain the Fianna Fáil seat. At that time, delegates from Sligo could vote for the Leitrim-based candidate, also nominations were allowed from the floor. Both rules have subsequently been changed to prevent what happened in Manorhamilton being repeated.. In the 1969 General Election, Joe Mooney was once again called upon to be the standard bearer for Fianna Fáil in a now truncated Leitrim portion of the Sligo /Leitrim Constituency following further boundary changes which meant that a Leitrim-based candidate had little chance of being elected. This situation prevailed until the County was reunited following further boundary changes which came into force in the 1981 General Election resulting in the election of Leitrim's first TD in 20 years, John Ellis of Fenagh. Although failing to be elected Joe Mooney's Leitrim vote contributed to the election of two Fianna Fáil TD's for Sligo /Leitrim, James Gallagher and Ray McSharry and Mr.McSharry (later Tánaiste,MEP and European Commissioner) has repeatedly paid tribute to Joe Mooney's contribution to his election in 1969. Leitrim was still divided when the 1973 General Election was called and once again, Joe Mooney took up the Fianna Fáil banner but the Party were unpopular following 16 years of continuous Government and change was in the air. Fianna Fáil lost the election and Joe Mooney did not contest any subsequent Dáil election. Her continued to represent the people of Drumshanbo and was in the forefront of ensuring issues affecting Co.Leitrim were highlighted. He was a founding member of Cómhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann, serving as Chairman of the Connacht Council of CCE for ten years. He was also a founding member of the National Cultural Festival known as An Tóstal started in 1953 to extend the Tourist season by encouraging towns and villages across Ireland to present a week-long series of events reflective of their area. Drumshanbo is now the only town in Ireland where the An Tóstal Festival continues to this day each June bank holiday weekend, a legacy to the man who started it in Drumshanbo. Following his death, a local Committee decided to commence a Summer School in Joe's memory and today the Annual Joe Mooney Summer School attracts thousands of people from all over the world to the small town in the centre of Co.Leitrim. Among the local projects associated with Joe Mooney and his legacy to the town of his birth is the local Acres Lake Amenity Scheme, featuring an open air heated Swimming pool, children's playground, Tennis and amenity area which was located at Acres in 1971 to cater for the anticipated reopening of the Lough Allen Canal, a project also sponsored by Joe Mooney throughout his life and which he lived to see achieved. The Drumshanbo Vocational School also stands as a memorial to Joe Mooney who persuaded the then Government during his time as a Senator to build a second level School in the town. It is now the largest Vocational School in the County.

His son Paschal Mooney is currently a senator.[1]

See also


  1. "Mr. Paschal Mooney". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
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