One thing that Paddy Donnelly hates in life is bad language being used in their conversations by public officials. Paddy says that most of us were brought up in a much more dignified age, that the F word was unknown in the Civil Service where he he started out 58 years ago.
The new county hall at John Street in Kilkenny is Paddy’s greatest achievement as Kilkenny County Manager – and it was a great investment too. The fabulous Waterbarrack greenery is another achievement of Kilkenny’s greatest ever county manager.
Not many public officials can leave such physical evidence of great things achieved in their time in office . Paddy Donnelly certainly can. And he never retired – today he runs Paddy Donnelly Consulting Ltd helping firms interact with government and local government smoothing the way for important projects.
Paddy was in his time the most popular man in the Custom House, Dublin. That was back in an Age of Civility that he yearns for today. I well remember the day I met Paddy when I was a young Executive officer in Housing Grants Section on the fifth floor of O’Connell Bridge House in the centre of Dublin. He was the bright spark of the Department then as Private Secretary to the Secretary of the Department John Garvin, a noted expert of Joyce.
Fresh from his native Drogheda in which he has great pride , Paddy Donnelly started out as a young Executive Officer in January 1956. He served at various levels in the Department of Finance and Local Government up to the grade of Assistant Principal Officer in October 1973 , having served in the central civil service for 17 years. During his time in the Department of Local Government in the Custom House he was private secretary to two ministers , Neil Blaney 1960 to 1964 and Kevin Boland 1967/69.
Paddy took over as Kilkenny County Manager in 1976 coming from County Meath where he had been County Secretary and Acting County Manager. He was also Chairman of the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin up to recently.
He is badly missed – since he retired lesser beings have occupied his seat as KIlkenny County Manager. One fellow spent 7,400,000 Euro on a shop fronting County Hall in John Street ( formerly the Meubles furniture store). That premises is worth an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 today, as Paddy and a former Council Chairman David Fitzgerald both confirm. The owners who sold it to the Council are still pinching themselves to verify that they are not in a dream world.
Thus it is our contention that people like Paddy Donnelly can retire too young and make way for fools. But today there is an emerging re-evaluation of age with His Excellency President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins running for re-election for another seven years in office at the age of 78 and with the majority of people, especially young people, ready to vote for him as I write.
Had Paddy Donnelly not retired that 7 million would never have been wasted by KIlkenny County Council on a fad. In fact Paddy bought County Hall for four million and it’s worth 16 million to the citizens of Kilkenny today. Kilkenny castle too was developed under his stewardship as was all the great work attached to restoring the medieval city of Kilkenny.
But there was a lot of loutright jealousy abounding in Paddy Donnelly’s Kilkenny and the great man suffered from it too. With all his well earned money as collateral he put in for a bank loan to buy a site on the Callan Road ( known as The Nun’s Field) and erected a fine house there for himself and his good family with the result that massive envy erupted across Kilkenny.
There was more ire after Paddy supported a great local councillor in Thomastown, Dicksie Doyle, to buy a field adjoining his house there, but that all came to nothing too. However most people in Kilkenny are decent people who today say out publicly for all to hear that Paddy Donnelly was Kilkenny’s best ever county manager. In fact we could do with having him back again – after all he’s only the same age as Michael D.
No foul language please – Paddy Donnelly is coming down the road!