Former Bord Gáis chairman Michael Conlon dies aged 90

Tributes paid to former Cork county manager as a man of vision and dynamism

Michael Conlon was chairman of Bord Gáis for 12 years. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Michael Conlon was chairman of Bord Gáis for 12 years. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Warm tributes have been paid to former Bord Gáis chairman and Cork county manager Michael Conlon with both business leaders and local government figures praising him for his vision and dynamism.

Mr Conlon, who died at the age of 90 on Tuesday, was just 33 when he took over as Cork county manager in 1960.

He led the local authority until 1978 when he left to head up the Cork Savings Bank before later becoming chairman of Bord Gáis.

Cork businessman Frank Boland said that Mr Conlon was a man of great vision, who took a long term view during his time as county manager.

He said Cork was reaping the benefits of that vision today with the industrialisation of the Cork Harbour area.

“He was an extraordinary man, he was very far sighted. He was instrumental in getting a major water supply down from Inniscarra into the Ringaskiddy area which helped attract the pharmaceuticals to Cork and provide major employment,” Mr Boland said.

“To have the vision to spend money on something so far out, that takes brains.

“Michael was very committed to anything he became involved with - there were no half measures with him and you knew where you stood with him. He was straight up with you and without issuing diktats, he got things done. He brought people with him, which is a gift in its own way.”

A native of Mount Temple in Co Westmeath, Mr Conlon served for 12 years as head of the Cork Savings Bank, before leaving to become chairman of Bord Gáis, a position he also held for 12 years before retiring in 2001.

He served under seven different ministers and overseeing the expansion of the company including getting approval for the first interconnector for Bord Gáis under the Irish Sea.

‘Visionary leader’

Cork County CEO, Tim Lucey, echoed Mr Boland’s comments, saying Mr Conlon was a man of extraordinary foresight.

“He was a visionary leader of the council at a time of early modern economic development of the county in the 1960s and 70s, paving the way for the facilitation of many major future developments particularly in the Ringaskiddy area which continues to be of significance to our economy.

“In doing so, he was a highly respected leader among staff and elected councillors through having a unique personal rapport with the people with whom he worked, a quality he displayed throughout his life,”he said.

Mr Lucey said Mr Conlon was probably the best known of all Cork county managers .

Predeceased by his wife, Kitty, the late Mr Conlon is survived by his sons, Bryan and Rory and daughters, Deirdre, Niamh, Orla and Dara. His funeral mass takes place at St Michael’s Church, Blackrock at 11am on Thursday with burial afterwards at St Michael’s Cemetery.