Ballyroan native Mary Sweeney was first elected to Laois County Council in 1999 – but as she gets set to contest a fifth election later this month, it’s her year as Cathaoirleach that stands out as a highlight.
She was elected as Cathaoirleach in June 2013, 14 years after first winning a seat on the council.
She was the first female Fine Gael Cathaoirleach and only the second female Cathaoirleach ever – following in the footsteps of Mary Wheatley.
Mary Sweeney’s elevation to the top role was a very proud moment for the popular councillor and her extended family and she enjoyed an eventful year.
From rubbing shoulders with Fat Boy Slim on the Main Stage at Electric Picnic as the festival celebrated its 10th birthday to welcoming President Michael D Higgins to Laois for the Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, it was a year never to forget.
Chairing her first County Council meeting was a significant occasion while her first Civic Reception was to honour Anna May McHugh and the huge contribution made by the National Ploughing Association.
Mary first won a seat on Laois County Council in the Portlaoise area back in 1999 when she won the seat that had been occupied by former Fine Gael TD and senator Charlie McDonald.
She has since been returned as a councillor in 2004, 2009 and 2014 and will be hoping to be elected again on May 24 for a fifth term.
Mary Sweeney has a lot to be proud of in her 20 years in Laois County Council but that 12-month period in 2013-2014 as Cathaoirleach will live long in the memory.