Hundreds of people gathered at St Michael's Church in Mullinahone today (Monday) to pay their last respects to the community's popular and highly respected county councillor Eddie O'Meara, who was described by Independent TD Michael Lowry, in a moving eulogy, as an "exceptional" public representative and "real servant of the people".
Mullinahone came to a standstill at noon today as the community united in bidding farewell to Cllr O'Meara, who was their public representative for nearly 20 years.
Among the huge turnout of mourners were many of Cllr O'Meara's colleagues on Tipperary Co. Council, both past and present, who formed a guard of honour as his remains, draped in the Mullinahone GAA colours, were carried from the church after the Requiem Mass.
Tipperary TDs Mattie McGrath and Jackie Cahill, former Tipperary hurling star Eoin Kelly from Mullinahone, Co. Council CEO Joe MacGrath and a large contingent of Co. Council staff members were also in attendance.
Deputy Lowry, a close personal and political friend of Cllr O'Meara, and Cllr's O'Meara's son Sean, spoke eloquently at the end of the Reqieum Mass about the Independent councillor's life and legacy as a politican and family man.
Mr Lowry said they were all shocked and saddened by the rapid decline in Eddie's health and his untimely passing.
He described his friend as a devoted family man, who took great pride in his family, and spoke of how Mullinahone was the centre of his universe.
Mr Lowry recounted how Eddie, a Fianna Fail activist in his early days, became the first man from Mullinahone to win a county council seat in 71 years after taking the brave decision to contest the 1999 local election as an Independent candidate.
"Eddie was an exceptional councillor. A real servant of the people. He had a unique and distinct character, which endeared him to all who came in contact with him. Eddie was always available to offer support, advice, encouragement, inspiring others. First to help - last to leave.
"He was a great facilitator and conciliator. He had the skill to pull differing strands together to find common ground.
"In carrying out this council duties, he was calm and measured and always acted responsibly. He was very fair. He was respectful of officials and staff and honourable with his councillor colleagues. He had an effective style and a nice way of asking to get things done."
Deputy Lowry also recounted that Eddie was very politically shrewd, astute and tactical and was reliable in holding up his side of a political arrangement hammered out after elections.
Above all, he said Eddie loved the job of being a county councillor.
"Eddie was so natural, so normal, so down to earth, so in touch with everything that was happening. Through Eddie's eyes everyone was equal, everyone was the same. He wanted nobody left behind. He was a completely practical man without ego. He mixed with everyone. He could fly with the ordinary birds of the air as well as soar with the eagles above them," Deputy Lowry added.
Cllr O'Meara was laid to rest at St Michael's Cemetery, Killaghy, Mulinahone following the Requiem Mass. He is pre-deceased by his son Frank and survived by his loving wife Josephine, sons Sean, Kevin, Aiden, Edwin and Joe, his 8 grandchildren, daughters-in-law, niece, nephews, extended family, colleagues, neighbours and a wide circle of friends.