Home Deaths Death occurs of Tom Mulhall, former councillor and Cathaoirleach of Laois County...

Death occurs of Tom Mulhall, former councillor and Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council

Tom Mulhall
Tom Mulhall

The death has occurred of Tom Mulhall from Emo, a former Cathaoirleach of Laois County County Council and a Fine Gael councillor from 2009-2021.

Mr Mulhall, who passed away on Monday, is survived by his wife Bridget, daughter Una, son Niall, son-in-law Gavin, grandchildren Alison and Daniel, brother Eamon, sister Ann (Moloney) and a wide circle of family and friends. He was aged 71.

Mr Mulhall, who was Cathaoirleach in 2016-2017, retired from his council seat on health grounds in 2021. 

Knowing the numbers were on his side and he was on course to be safely re-elected, Tom Mulhall enjoys a well-earned bag of crisps at the 2019 Local Election count. Picture: Julie Anne Miller

He won a seat in the old Emo Electoral Area for the first time in 2009 and was subsequently re-elected comfortably at the Local Elections in 2014 and 2019 in the enlarged Graiguecullen-Portarlington Municipal District.

The fact that he grew his vote substantially on each occasion, despite a decrease in seats, was a testament to how highly-regarded he was in his community.

He was particularly strong in his home area of Emo, of which of he was hugely proud, though he also did a mountain of work in the likes of Portarlington, Killenard, The Heath, Ballybrittas, Rath, Vicarstown and Stradbally.

Tom Mulhall with supporters at the 2019 Local Election count centre in Portlaoise. Photo: Julie Anne Miller

His background was in farming, and he was a prominent member of the IFA prior to his entry into politics.

He often spoke fondly of organising buses to attend farm protests and he was particularly thrilled to offer a council reception to the famed 1966 national farm protest during his time as Cathaoirleach. 

Group of Laois IFA Members/or family members who participated in the 1966 Farmers Rights march. This event was chaired by Tom Mulhall during his year as Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council

He was also a former chairman of the Board of Management of Emo National School and among his proudest achievements – and one of his lasting legacies – was the work he did in driving the development of the new school campus in Emo.

Blessed with a quick wit and a great turn of phrase, he was able to lighten the mood in the council chamber with a well-timed “C’mon Amo now!” or a traditional farming quote like “it’s time to back up and go home” when his reign as Cathaoirleach ended and he had to hand over the chain of office.

Tom Mulhall (centre) with supporters at the 2019 Local Election count in Portlaoise. Photo: Julie Anne Miller
Padraig Fleming and Tom Mulhall in celebratory mood at the 2019 Local Election count. Picture: Julie Anne Miller

Indeed his sense of humour was captured brilliantly in a piece he wrote for LaoisToday in 2018 recalling the glory days of the Montague Hotel. 

He was also at ease in the robust back and forth debates in the council, more than capable of holding his ground in the occasional war of words with political rivals and sometimes even party colleagues.

Tom Mulhall with Ministers Simon Coveney and Charlie Flanagan at the turning of a sod for social housing in Portlaoise in 2016. Picture: Alf Harvey
Tom Mulhall (Fine Gael) elected at the Laois Count Centre in 2014. Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie

But he was always well informed too on the intricacies of council policy and drew great satisfaction from helping people or community groups.

A member of Emo’s senior football championship-winning panel in 1972, he was a regular attendee at championships matches in O’Moore Park and loved the big days out in Croker too. He was also a keen racegoer, attending meetings in the likes of Leopardstown, Fairyhouse, Punchestown and The Curragh.

In recent years – since his health issues forced him to ease back and his council seat was co-opted to his good friend PJ Kelly – he thoroughly enjoyed hearing local news and speculation and welcomed regular visitors to his home in Cappakeel.

He’ll be sorely missed by all who knew him. Funeral arrangements to follow.

May he rest in peace.

SEE ALSO – Sunday Interview: Local political life – ‘You need a tough skin and a hard neck’