PR consultant and popular local politician

Vincent McElheron: November 9th, 1943 - July 16th, 2014

 

Nothing typified the life of Vincent McElheron, who has died aged 70, so much as the manner of his sudden leaving of it – propped up in bed reading a serious newspaper, four hours before the delivery to his front door of a case of fine wines from a well-known merchant.

A noted bon viveur, McElheron used his vivacity to the fullest in a career, firstly, as one of the country’s best known public relations consultants in the music industry, and later in a 30-year career in politics as a councillor on both Arklow Town Council, where he was elected mayor on four occasions, and on Wicklow County Council. Working initially with one of Ireland’s first public relations companies, Public Relations Practitioners of Hume Street in Dublin, McElheron later developed a solo career representing the press interests of many of the country’s leading showbands. Reynolds connection His bands appeared regularly in all the country’s major dance halls, especially in the Dreamland chain run by the late Albert Reynolds and his brother Jim, while his London connections brought him one of his greatest coups, as press agent for Roy Orbison’s Irish tours.

From the late 1970s, McElheron turned his attention to politics. On his mother’s retirement in 1984, he was elected to succeed her representing Fine Gael on Arklow Town Council. In 1981 he had worked as voluntary press officer for Ivan Yates when he became the youngest TD in the Dáil, aged 21.

A man with a strong independent streak, he kept open channels of communication to both the Progressive Democrats, attending the launch of that party in 1986, and to Fianna Fáil, eventually incurring the displeasure of the party hierarchy and leading to his de-selection as a candidate in 1989. This did not stop him romping home in Arklow.

Vincent McElheron remained all his life in his native town, though he travelled widely. Educated locally at St Patrick’s Academy, the forerunner of the present St Kevin’s CBS, he often surprised visitors with his ability to converse readily and competently in French or German, languages he had added in adulthood to an already fluent Irish.

A true “one-off”, Vincent McElheron, who never married, is survived by his brothers Joseph and Edward. Another brother, the artist Patrick McElheron, predeceased him.