Late Limerick senator’s legacy will live on forever and a day

The late Mary Jackman with her husband Nick.

THE late Mary Jackman, a former Fine Gael Senator and the first female chair of Limerick County Council, was remembered in the Seanad as as “a true person of decency and integrity”.

Ms Jackman, who died last May at the age of 79, served two terms as a senator and stood as a candidate for the Dáil in four general elections and one by-election.

Tributes were paid to Mary in the Seanad during a special memorial, organised by Senator Maria Byrne (FG).

In attendance were her husband, Nick; daughter, Nicola Reyna; grandchildren, Nicholas and Sean; sister, Ursula; nephews, Ray and Brian; and friends, Betty Walsh, Michael Dwyer, Dymphna Bracken and Marian Hurley. Former colleague and friend, Michael Finucane, was also in attendance.

Seanad members were told how Mary, who was born in Cappawhite, County Tipperary, spent a considerable part of her life in Limerick, where she taught in Presentation College.

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“Mary’s passion was education. It played an enormous part in her life. Her achievements as a teacher and mentor are extraordinary,” said Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer.

“She was a member of the governing body of the University of Limerick (UL), and the Limerick Institute of Technology, as well as chairing the Limerick county vocational educational committee, VEC, for five years.

“Those of us who knew Mary Jackman know she would have been proud of the way in which the education sector in Limerick is thriving today. In many ways, the growth of UL and the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), and that model of education, serves as one of her legacies in her political work.

“Mary was an avid sportswoman, captaining her camogie team while studying. She did not always admit that she studied in University College Cork, and I used to like to slag her about attending UCC.

“Later in life, she took part in the Great Limerick Run. One of the things about Mary was that she was always on the go and active.

“As members and her family and friends will be aware, she was political. She made a vast contribution to political life, especially in Limerick, and was one of the founding members of the Limerick Women’s Political Association.

“She was the first female chair of Limerick County Council and served for almost 30 years. She was one of the longest-serving councillors in a local authority. Her grandfather, Patrick Duggan, served on the very first Limerick County Council and Mary was very proud to continue that family tradition of public service.

“Here in Seanad Éireann, she was the first female senator to represent Limerick, serving from 1989 to 1992 and again from 1997 to 2002,” he added.

Limerick Senator Maria Byrne told members that “Mary Jackman’s legacy will go on forever and a day”.

“On Christmas Eve every year, Mary always arrived to our house. It did not matter if it was 10 o’clock in the morning or 10 o’clock at night. Christmas Eve did not go by but she had to call in to wish us all a happy Christmas,” she recalled.

“That was the person Mary Jackman was. She was so thoughtful. She really loved Fine Gael and she loved politics. She would have gotten involved back in Garret’s FitzGerald’s time and served under many leaders.

“When the by-election was on, Mary was so grateful for all those who came to support her and canvass with her. It is all about the Jackman family today and it is lovely that we are here in this chamber where Mary served to pay tribute to her warmth and kindness and to acknowledge all that she did for everybody, both in this chamber and outside it,” Senator Byrne concluded.