The oldest surviving former Oireachtas member, Seamus Dolan, passed away on Tuesday week last at the age of 95. Mr. Dolan, a native of Blacklion, served as a Fianna Fáil TD and Senator from 1961 to his retirement in 1982.
A farmer and schoolteacher, Mr. Dolan was born in 1914 near Blacklion, and was elected to the Dáil in 1961 after standing twice as an unsuccessful candidate during the 1950s.
He lost his seat in 1965, and was then elected to the Seanad, where he spent the rest of his national political career. Following a four-year absence from 1969, he was re-elected to the Seanad in 1973.
His greatest honour came in 1977 when he was elected cathaoirleach of the Senate and he served as chairman of the upper house with great distinction until his retirement in 1981.
He was a national school teacher and a farmer before going into politics and was a passionate advocate of the Irish language all of his life. Mr. Dolan survived a civil war, two World Wars, but the economic war with Britain left an indelible mark on his generation.
Although he was just twelve years old when the party was founded, Mr. Dolan was a life-long supporter of Fianna Fáil and served them in every forum to which he could get elected. He represented Belturbet on Cavan County Council and was elected to the Dáil as TD for Cavan in 1961. Seamus Dolan's reflective common sense suited the Senate and he served with great distinction.
Local Fianna Fáil TD and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith has paid tribute to the late Seamus Dolan. He described Seamus Dolan as a very diligent and committed public representative over a long period of years who served with great distinction as a member of Cavan County Council, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.
Minister Smith referred to Seamus Dolan's particular love of the Irish language and his efforts over many years to promote "our native language" and he took every possible opportunity to speak in Irish. "He also had a particular interest in history, heritage and culture."
As a member of County Cavan VEC, Seamus Dolan was a strong advocate for expanding educational opportunities and in the tourism area he constantly highlighted the potential of County Cavan and the capacity of its rivers and lakes to provide an important tourism product.
Minister Smith extended again his deepest sympathies to his wife Bríd, sons, daughters, grandchildren and family.
Also offering his sympathy, Senator Diarmuid Wilson said: "I got to know Seamus well over many years but especially since my election to Seanad Éireann." Senator Wilson valued greatly his friendship and his advice.
Seamus Dolan, he added, served with distinction as a county councillor, a TD and as a member of Seanád Éireann where he achieved the highest honour any member of the Seanad can, when he was elected Cathaoirleach, which also entitled him to membership of the Council of State and Presidential Commission.
Fine Gael Senator Joe O'Reilly also expressed his sympathy to Mr. Dolan's family and paid a warm tribute to the late Senator. "He was completely dedicated to public service all his life. I had the privilege of serving with him on Cavan VEC for a number of years. During that time I was very struck by his commitment to the education of all and his personal ability... All his life he was committed to the welfare of others and had a strong dedication to his country," said Senator O'Reilly.
Dr. Rory O'Hanlon TD said: "I offer my sympathy to Bríd and all the family on the death of Séamus, a man who had a very long and distinguished life." Séamus was a true Constitutional Republican who was devoted and committed to everything that was in the best interests of the Irish people.
He gave committed and dedicated service to Fianna Fáil throughout his lifetime. "As a long serving member of Dáil Éireann I appreciate his work for Fianna Fáil over the years, particularly in the Belturbet Comhairle Ceanntair area."
Fianna Fail TD for Cavan/Monaghan, Margaret Conlon, also paid tribute to the late Mr. Dolan. "He was a great Irishman and was very proud of his country, its history and its language," she said.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.