Home Sponsored Moment in Time: Remembering Mary Sweeney’s year as Cathaoirleach of Laois County...

Moment in Time: Remembering Mary Sweeney’s year as Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council

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.

Thomas Cosby and Fat Boy Slim with Cathaoirleach Mary Sweeney on the Main Stage at Electric Picnic in 2013
Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney greets President Michael D. Higgins at the opening ceremony at the 2013 National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co. Laois. Picture: Jeff Harvey/HR Photo
Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Mary Sweeney with her son Conor Sweeney at the Laois Chamber of Commerce Black Tie Ball in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel in 2013
Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney making a presentation to Anna May McHugh in 2013
Killasmeestia Tidy Towns, represented by Paul Hogan and Danny Whelan are presented with their Special Merit award for the Laois Federation of Tidy Towns Competition 2013 by Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC; Laois Tidy Towns Chairperson Noreen Byrne and County Manager Peter Carey at County Hall in 2013. Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie
Abbeyleix Tidy Towns, represented by Bernie Loughman, Tom Lawlor, Mary White, John Joe Fennelly MCC and Betty Whelan are presented with their award for winning Category D – Population > 2000 of the Laois Federation of Tidy Towns Competition 2013 by Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC; Laois Tidy Towns Chairperson Noreen Byrne and County Manager Peter Carey at County Hall, Portlaoise.
Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie
Clonaslee Tidy Towns, represented by Maura O’Gorman, John Callaghan, Chris Horan and Nuala Smith are presented with their award for winning Category C – Population 1000 – 2000 of the Laois Federation of Tidy Towns Competition 2013 by Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC; Laois Tidy Towns Chairperson Noreen Byrne and County Manager Peter Carey at County Hall, Portlaoise.
Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie
Killenard Tidy Towns, represented by Sandie O’Leary and Enda Behan are presented with their award for winning Category B – Population > 200 < 1000 of the Laois Federation of Tidy Towns Competition 2013 by Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC; Laois Tidy Towns Chairperson Noreen Byrne; County Manager Peter Carey and Director of Services Kieran Kehoe at County Hall, Portlaoise.
Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Simon Coveney T.D. with Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC at the official Media Launch of The 82nd National Ploughing Championships on the site in Ratheniska, Co Laois, 4 September 2013.
Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC with Anna McHugh and Sean O’Rourke at the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Co Laois.
Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie
ETB CEO Anne O’Keeffe who is retiring at the end of August is presented with flowers by Cllr. Mary Sweeney ETB chairperson at the new Laois & Offaly Education and Training Board (ETB) committee meeting at Portlaoise Adult Education Centre, (Old CBS Building), Tower Hill, Portlaoise prior to the official opening of Portlaoise Adult Education Centre.
Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie
Cllr. Mary Sweeney ETB chairperson and ETB CEO Anne O’Keeffe cut the tape at the official opening of the new Portlaoise Adult Education Centre, (Old CBS Building), Tower Hill.
Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie
Mary Sweeney with Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness in 2013

Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC with Bishop Michael Burrows, (Cashel, Ossory and Ferns) at the official opening of the new Maryborough National School in 2014
County Manager Peter Carey, Cathaoirleach of LCC Mary Sweeney MCC and Councillor Padraig Fleming at County Hall, Portlaoise for the launch of Clean up Laois Week in 2014

SEE ALSO – Mary Sweeney reflects on her career as a libarian as she retires after 38 years