Obituary: Bernard McGlinchey

Former senator and pioneering electoral strategist for Fianna Fáil

Bernard McGlinchey: a  driven political strategist and hard-headed businessman capable of great personal generosity.

Bernard McGlinchey: a driven political strategist and hard-headed businessman capable of great personal generosity.

Sat, May 4, 2013, 06:00

Bernard McGlinchey, who has died in his native Letterkenny, Co Donegal, was part of the dynamic generation of Fianna Fáil politicians who came to prominence in the 1960s. He revelled in sitting through the night in smoke-filled rooms, working out election strategy.

McGlinchey knew the political allegiance of every family, not just in Donegal but in much of the country.

In the 1960s McGlinchey worked closely with the late Neil Blaney. Such was their ability as strategists that American academic Paul M Sacks wrote a book, The Donegal Mafia , about them and their team.

He served as a councillor from 1955 to 1999 on Letterkenny Urban Council and from 1960 to 2004 on Donegal County Council. On the urban council, he was the dominant force for many years. On the county council, he was Fianna Fáil whip. He also served in the Seanad for 20 years.

McGlinchey was born in Letterkenny in October 1932, the seventh of eight children to Patrick McGlinche and his wife Sarah (née O’Boyle).

At St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny, he led a student strike. He was expelled, and refused permission to sit his Leaving Certificate in the college. He sat the exam alone, achieving excellent results.

He worked first for Nestlé as a trainee industrial chemist. In 1961 he opened the Golden Grill in Letterkenny, one of Ireland’s biggest night spots.

However, there was more to McGlinchey than the driven political strategist and the hard-headed businessman. He was capable of great personal generosity.

He is survived by his partner, Kathleen (Sweeney), his wife Liz, his daughters Karen, Dolores and Adrienne, his sons Paul and Ray, and his brothers Danny, John and PJ. He was predeceased by his sisters Eileen and Jo, and his brothers Tim and Gerry.