Looking back at service to Kildare

Former Kildare County Manager, Michael Malone.                    Photo Tony Keane
WHEN Kildare County Council members met for their monthly meeting in Castledermot on 31 March, they marked a notable historic occasion.

WHEN Kildare County Council members met for their monthly meeting in Castledermot on 31 March, they marked a notable historic occasion.

That was the public life and the departure from it of County Manager, Michael Malone, who was retiring two weeks later following a 42-year career in local government.

Mr. Malone acknowledged another senior colleague, who was also leaving, John Lahart, who played a role in planning.

He also noted that Kildare had seen some of the most challenging planning applications in the country during his time, naming Intel as one.

Cllr. Senan Griffin, seen as the “father of the house,” who was not standing for election, said Mr Malone’s vision for the county was “more long term”.

For Cllr. Padraig McEvoy, the Manager had connected well with the public and was “a strategic player”.

Cllr. John McGinley imagined he would be much in demand on boards. “You pulled us well through the recession. This county has not suffered as badly as others,” he said.

After 42 years of public life, they wished him well. “We are not happy to see you go. We are happy you retired when healthy,” said Cllr. Fiona O’Loughlin.

The former County Manager met this journalist at the Osprey Hotel on 15 May and le looked as if has been enjoying the early stages of his break from a public career.

Married to Anne, who is from Terryglass, Mr Malone is originally from Portroe, near Nenagh in Tipperary. Born into a farming family, he is one of four brothers, one of whom now farms that family land.

He went to CBS in Nenagh, and enjoyed it. He did not opt for a third level education then - that was to come later - but moved to work in local government.

His first job was in North Tipperary county council as a clerical officer. “I enjoyed the work immensely. There is great variety. No two days are the same.”

“At the outset, work can be standard but that is necessary.

“As you move up the ranks, the variety becomes greater,” he said.

He worked in Galway city, south Tipperary, north Tipperary again (as county secretary), Kerry (assistant manager) and in Laois, Kilkenny and Kildare as County Manager.

He settled to live in Portlaoise.

“I was not unhappy where I was at each authority but I was happy with the new experiences. A lot of the issues are similar (as you move around) but the culture may be different,” he said.

On the way he did a Masters in Business Administration with the Open University.

He was not tempted elsewhere during the better off Celtic Tiger times. “I never seriously considered going into to the private sector. I was very happy where I was.

He continued: “Managing a local authority is like managing a business. You deal with staff, income, strategy, goals.”

There is no doubt, as Cllr. John McGinley said, he would be in demand.

But for the moment he seems determined to enjoy his free time.