INTERVIEW

My Tipperary Life interview: Kathleen O’Meara

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Kathleen O'Meara

Kathleen O'Meara

Kathleen O'Meara is a former Irish Labour Party politician. She was a member of Seanad Éireann from 1997 to 2007. She is the current Director of Communications, Public Affairs and Fundraising at the Rehab Group.

Previously she was head of Advocacy and Communications at the Irish Cancer Society.

What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend  in Tipperary?

On Saturday when I head into town and meet friends in one of the town's great eateries, catch up on all the news and discuss the issues of the day. In the afternoon I go shopping, especially in the smaller town centre shops, and have a chat in at least each one. Sunday then is a walk on the Silvermines ridge or the Pilgrim Loop, home for dinner and the feet up. Sometimes I will get a water aerobics class in on a Sunday morning  too or on the odd Saturday one of Donal Quirke's amazing yoga and meditation classes.

Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?

Luke Murtagh is the former CEO of North Tipperary VEC and the person who made the Thurles third level college a reality. Luke has made  a huge contribution as a public servant, to the community and to education in Tipperary.

What's your first Tipperary memory?

My late uncle, Fr. Paddy O'Meara, would take us out on the lake in a small boat from Dromineer when I and my siblings were children. I had not been to the seaside then and it was the most exciting thing I had ever done.

What's your favourite part of the county - and why?

The top of the ridge over Silvermines and Nenagh, looking across to Lough Derg, Tonn Tinne and Clare, and from the other side, to Newport and Limerick, with the shoulder of Ciamaltha at my back. I go up there a lot but it takes my breath away every time and restores my soul after a week of meetings and traffic!

What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?

The personality of the people of Tipperary, the amazing strength and continuing of community, and the spirit of the county as expressed on the hurling pitch. Tipperary people are proud of their county and its heritage and to be Tipp people. There is a very strong backbone to the county. One of the things I love is to meet young Tipperary people who have such a strong sense of place and of identity.

Do you have a favourite local writer or author?

Donal Ryan without a doubt.  His searing insights into the Ireland of the new century, viewed from the lens of North Tipperary, are extraordinary and the quality of his writing outstanding. He catches the local vernacular so well, it jumps off the page. His characters live and speak to us, often in a very challenge way, but their humanity shines through.

What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?

The economic challenge as always as it determines in particular how smaller towns and villages will sustain themselves. They are the heart of the county and they are struggling clearly with social and economic change. The closure of post offices and local services have a huge impact and undermine the sense of community which is so important to the fabric of the county. As a country we need to decide how, or if, this is important to us and then act on it.

If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?

That there would be no illegal dumping or plastic bottles abandoned in our magnificent countryside.