Passing of former Mayo TD, senator and GAA legend John O'Mahony

"A sporting hero, a champion and a gentleman'

The death has taken place of John O'Mahony, Ballaghaderreen.

Aged 71, the deceased served as a Mayo Fine Gael TD from 2007 to 2016 and was a member of An Seanad from 2016 to 2020.

In the 2016 general election he stood in the Galway West constituency due to Mayo being reduced from five to four seats.

Following the loss of his seat, he was nominated in May 2016 by then Taoiseach Enda Kenny to An Seanad, where he served as FG spokesman on transport, tourism and sport.

A native of Kilmovee, he served as manager of the Mayo, Galway and Leitrim senior football squads, leading the Tribesman to All-Ireland titles in 1998 and 2001.

He guided Mayo to an All-Ireland final in 1989 and Leitrim to a rare Connacht SFC title in 1996.

John won a total of eight Connacht SFC titles as manager, four with Galway, three with Mayo and one with Leitrim, making him the most successful manager in the history of the competition.

In 2009, he was named on a prestigious list of 'the 125 Most Influential People in Mayo GAA History.'

As a player, he also enjoyed a distinguished career, winning an All-Ireland Under-21 title with Mayo.

A former member of the teaching staff of St. Nathy's College, Ballaghaderreen, he was a graduate of University College Galway.

News of his death has evoked a tremendous sense of loss and sorrow across the nation.

Deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Geraldine, five daughters Grainne, Niamh, Rhona, Deirdre and Cliodha, family, relatives and friends.

In a tribute, Taoiseach Simon Harris said: "It is with great sadness that I today learned of the death of our colleague and friend John O’Mahony.

"John was a sporting hero, a champion and a gentleman.

"On the sporting field, John left a stunning legacy in Mayo, Leitrim and Galway, where they still talk about his All-Ireland wins of 1998 and 2001.

"He was a leader, he made people believe in their own abilities and he delivered at the highest levels.

"On the political field, John’s determination to deliver was no less fierce than in sport. He was decent, hardworking, effective and respected.

"On a personal level, John was an established TD when I first entered the Dáil in 2011 and like many colleagues, his quiet and assured support and word in the ear to ‘keep the faith’ was invaluable.

"The Fine Gael family has lost a great friend and colleague. The people of the west of Ireland have lost an incredible advocate and champion.

"To his wife Gerardine, his five daughters and his grandchildren, I’m so sorry for your loss."

President Michael D. Higgins, in a statement, said: “John O'Mahony will be remembered as one of the greatest football managers in Connacht history.

“With Mayo, Leitrim and Galway, he brought his teams to levels of success that they had not experienced for decades while bringing an innovative approach to preparation and analysis that was far ahead of its time.

“For each of these achievements, including two All Ireland titles with Galway, he will be remembered with the greatest of affection.

“Beyond the football field, he will be further remembered for his dedicated service as a TD, and later Senator, serving the people of Mayo.

“May I express my deepest sympathies to John's wife Gerardine, to his daughters Gráinne, Niamh, Rhona, Deirdre and Clíodhna, and to all of his family, friends and many colleagues in the GAA, politics and beyond.”

A tribute by the Mayo Fine Gael Executive said John dedicated much of his life to public service and sport, leaving an indelible mark on both fields.

Jim Higgins, former TD, Senator and MEP and current chair of the Mayo Fine Gael constituency executive, expressed his sadness at John’s passing.

He said: "John O'Mahony was a stalwart of our community here in Mayo, a dedicated public servant and a brilliant football manager.

"His contributions to politics locally and nationally, as well as his successes on the football field, are a testament to his remarkable talent and unwavering commitment. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

"John O'Mahony's legacy will continue to inspire future generations in both the political and sporting arenas.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family; his wife Gerardine, his five daughters, Gráinne, Niamh, Rhona, Deirdre and Cliodhna, his grandchildren, friends and colleagues during this difficult time," Mr. Higgins added.

Deputy Michael Ring, in a tribute, said: “John was a strong GAA man, and his legacy is unmatched as both a player and manager. Those involved in the GAA in Galway, Mayo and Leitrim will all have fond memories of his contribution to their teams.

“He is without a doubt one of the GAA’s finest manager, well respected by all.

“He not only had an exceptional career in the GAA, but also within politics.

“Throughout his political career he was a TD for Mayo from 2007 until 2016. He was then appointed to the 25th Seanad by then Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“John was one of my running mates in 2007 and 2011, and I have fond memories of campaigning together.

“He was an amiable, decent man and will be a big loss.

“An outstanding politician, he always ensured Mayo and the west of Ireland was well represented.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Geraldine, his five daughters, and his grandchildren.”

Minister of State Dara Calleary, who served with John in the Oireachtas from 2007 to 2020, said on his passing: “The sense of loss will be felt right across our county of Mayo and across Connacht as we mourn a distinguished political representative and a sporting icon. Indeed the loss will be shared across the island of Ireland in sporting communities everywhere.

“The greatest loss is that of his family whom he adored and without whom he couldn't have achieved all that he did.

“John's wife Geraldine, his daughters Grainne, Niamh, Rhona, Deirdre and Cliodhna and their families and the O'Mahony and Towey families are foremost in Siobhan's and my thoughts today.”

He added: “John was a collegiate, focused and dedicated politician with the interests of Mayo and of the west of Ireland to the fore. He brought a lifetime of experience as a teacher and of sports management at the highest level to politics. Through that experience - and his inherent decency - he left politics a better place for that contribution.

“He uniquely managed Mayo, Galway and Leitrim and brought all teams to great heights of success - particularly winning two All-Irelands with Galway. The success in all three counties truly awakened the west.”

It was always a pleasure to meet John on a personal level, such was his affable and courteous nature.

Mayo has truly lost one of its finest sons.