Pictured above, are Caoimhe, Kathleen, and Ray Shanagher, at Kathleen's installation as Chairperson of Roscommon County Council.
Templemore native Kathleen Shanagher has been elected Leas Cathaoirleach of Roscommon Co. Council, crediting her upbringing in the mid-Tipperary town with her strong sense of public service and civic duty.
Kathleen has been highly involved in her adopted home of Co. Roscommon since she first moved there, and on Monday, all her hard work over the years was rewarded when she was elected as Cathaoirleach of the County Council, with the backing of her fellow Independents and Fianna Fáil.
Kathleen's father is Denis Kennedy, who resides in Templemore, and her mother was the late Margaret Kennedy (née Croke, from the Horse and Jockey).
Kathleen has three brothers who live locally, Martin (Murt), Eamonn, and Denis, and two sisters, Anne Marie, in Galway, and Noeleen, in Luton, England. Along with husband, Ray, Kathleen has a daughter, Caoimhe, and a son, Cathal.
Kathleen told the Tipperary Star that she grew up in the Marian Road in Templemore, attending the Convent School, later amalgamated to Our Lady's Secondary School.
“I made my way up to Roscommon,” says Kathleen, where she immersed herself in local activism and community projects, starting out with the Tidy Towns group, of which she has been the Chairperson for the last 16 years.
Kathleen was also the first lady President of the local branch of the Lions Club, in 2010. Kathleen also spearheaded the local LEO for young people, working on various projects surrounding positive mental health and young people. “We published a magazine, we made a film, we did radio shows. One of our members, Shane O'Brien, represented Ireland in the world Europa competition in Bologna.”
Kathleen's involvement in local shows, Easter Parades, and Fairs brought her into contact with the world of local politics, and in 2014, she ran as an Independent Councillor for the Roscommon municipal area of Roscommon Co. Council. “This is my first term as a Councillor. I ran a 'no poster' campaign, and just canvassed on foot,” says Kathleen.
Her bid for the top job was backed by two other Independent Councillors and Fianna Fáil, as Fianna Fáil did not have the numbers for a candidate themselves.
Along with Kathleen, Independent Cllrs Tony Ward, Nigel Dineen and Fianna Fáil control the Council. Her bid was proposed by Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice (FF) and seconded by Cllr Tony Ward (Independent)
Kathleen says her agenda for the year ahead includes focusing on employment and attracting more visitors to the County. “Tourism is what we're working to promote. I work an awful lot with volunteers to promote the County in terms of tourism. We know there's a lot of family run businesses, heritage sites - it's to get the tourists to come away from the Wild Atlantic Way and visit inland.”
Coming from Templemore, Kathleen says she understands the concerns of small rural towns, and continues to visit Templemore to see her Dad.
Kathleen was also one of the first female members of the Thomas McDonagh Pipe Band, and represented Co. Tipperary as a member of her her local Templemore Athletics Club, which gave her many years of enjoyment. Kathleen even has a record for running 200 meters in 25.2 seconds, aged just 13, creating a new club record.