THE death took place at Letterkenny University Hospital on Tuesday night of former Fianna Fáil TD Hugh Conaghan. He was surrounded by his sons Eugene, Patrick and Francis, daughters Elizabeth and Sinéad and his 17 grand children as he passed away, peacefully, following a short illness.
Mr Conaghan (93) from Monfad, Newtowncunningham, represented his constituencies of Donegal and Donegal North East over a 12-year career in Dáil Éireann and from 1974 to 1999 as a County Councillor in Donegal. He was also a member of the North Western Heath Board.
Speaking to the Donegal News yesterday, Mr Conaghan’s son Francis who succeeded him as a member of Donegal County Council in 1999 said that his father had enjoyed a long, healthy life.
“Dad continued to take a close interest in politics and we had more than one discussion about the most recent general election,” Francis said.
Predeceased by his wife Jean last year, Hugh Conaghan would have celebrated his 94th birthday on May 6.
“Dad started working with the Lough Swilly Railway after he left school. He was a traffic controller and worked in Pennyburn and Letterkenny before he left to take up politics full-time. He went back to the job for a few years in 1989.
“A keen gardener, he used to keep bees. He enjoyed ten good years of retirement with mum but he lost his eyesight in recent years which was a blow to him. He was very alert and kept a keen interest on politics, both local and national,” he said.
Dr James McDaid, who took Mr Conaghan’s seat at the 1989 general election, said that he was a gentleman to his very core.
“I’m saddened to hear of Hugh’s passing. If there was anyone I wanted to beat it wasn’t Hugh but he never took it personal. Funny, we had a lovely chat at his wife’s wake last year and he told me that I had nothing to do with it (losing the seat). That wasn’t the seat we were after. We were looking for Blaney or Paddy Harte’s but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. He was a lovely, lovely man,” Dr McDaid said.
Fianna Fáil Party Leader Micheál Martin TD said that Hugh Conaghan was a truly great TD and proud Donegal man.
“Hugh left his mark on Donegal politics and is well regarded by all for his tireless and dedicated work in his community. It is down to this hard work that he was returned to Dáil Éireann five times by the people of Donegal.
“Hugh was immensely proud of his family involvement in Fianna Fáil which is continued by his son, former Councillor Francis Conaghan and his grandson Hugh Conaghan who currently serves on the Fianna Fáil National Executive.
“He was deeply devoted to his late wife Jean and they had many happy decades together.
“On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party I want to extend our sympathies and thoughts to his children Eugene, Patrick, Elizabeth, Francis, and Sinéad at this time.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”