Passing of retired Mayo hotelier and tourism pioneer

The death has occurred of retired hotelier Ann Geary of Pontoon House, Pontoon, Foxford.

She died peacefully on last night at the University Hospital Galway after a bravely-fought illness.

Aged 81, Ann was a native of Castlebar Street, Westport.

Her parents ran P.J. Kelly Builders and Hardware shop in Westport.

Her father P.J. was a Commandant in the West Mayo Flying Column and was one of the ‘Men of the West’.

Ann came to live in Pontoon in 1964 when she and her husband Brendan married and purchased the Pontoon Bridge Hotel on the shores of Lough Conn and Lough Cullen.

For almost five decades, Ann successfully ran and managed the Pontoon Bridge Hotel together with her family, turning the hotel from a small lakeside fishing hotel into a 58-bedroom wedding venue and leisure destination.

She retired from the hotel business in 2011.

Over the years, she pioneered local tourism in Mayo and the West of Ireland and the promotion of angling.

Ann was chairperson of Ireland West Tourism in the 1980s.

She was appointed to the Board of Bord Failte by the government in 1988 and served a five year term. At the time, very few women were serving on Irish State Boards.

She subsequently served as a board member of the North Western Regional Fisheries Board.

She was very active in tourism organisations such as Skal, the International Tourism Fellowship, and became its National President in the 1990s.

She also served on the first board of the Western Development Commission.

Ann had the distinction of founding the Irish Ladies Fly Fishing Team and was its manager for the first four years of its inception – taking the Irish team to compete in England, Scotland and Wales.

She also founded the organisation the Chefs of Mayo – who have done a great deal of charitable work over the years.

Ann is predeceased by her late husband Brendan, who died in 2012.

She is survived by her daughters Mary (Pontoon), Ann Gavin (Swinford), Breeta Gallagher (Killala),and sons Michael (Dublin), Brendan (New Jersey) and John (Westport), sons in law, daughters-in-law and eleven grandchildren, to whom sympathy is tendered.

Her Funeral Mass will be on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church, Knockmore.

It be live streamed at

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.

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