The family of the late Taoiseach Jack Lynch has urged the State to ensure his lasting legacy of leadership contributes to a better Ireland.
His nephew, Dan Harvey, made the call yesterday as the Lord Mayor of Cork, Tony Fitzgerald, led graveside tributes to mark the 100th anniversary of Mr Lynch’s birth.
Mr Harvey said there had been a lot of commentary in recent days about what the Jack Lynch legacy is, or ought to be.
“What the commentators have all agreed upon is that the legacy is one of leadership — a leadership that was tested in highly volatile times, a leadership that survived that test’s severity, and a leadership that endured through seismic unprecedented turmoil internally and externally, a leadership that triumphed over hot-headed militarism,” he said.
“The challenge now to make that legacy lasting, in order that these qualities can be learned from to better inform the nation’s decision making in the future.”
He urged the State, and the people of Lynch’s native Cork in particular, to move the debate on and decide how that legacy can contribute to a better Ireland.
Mr Fitzgerald hailed Lynch, the former Fianna Fáil leader who was taoiseach from 1966 to 1973 and from 1977 to 1979, and who died in 1999, as “a man of the people and a man of peace”.
He was speaking at the ceremony at St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork, organised by the Past Pupils’ Union (PPU) of the city’s North Monastery secondary school where both he and Lynch were schooled.
Mr Fitzgerald, the 15th Lord Mayor of Cork the school has produced, paid particular tribute to the role their alma mater played in forging Lynch’s character.
The Fianna Fáil councillor said the 230-year-old mayoral chain he wears today and which was worn by former lord mayors Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney — also past pupils of the North Mon — honours the seat of learning that produced “those three great heroes”.
However, he said Lynch’s true qualities shone through as the Troubles flared in the late 1960s.
“When this entire fabric of the State was tested, and noble goals were distorted by recourse to violence, Jack Lynch, leader and statesman, ploughed the furrow of peace. In home, in school, on the field, and in public life, he had the courage to do so,” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald also recalled Lynch’s sporting achievements, including winning six All Ireland medals — five in hurling and one in football.
He said Lynch had a reputation for decency and fair play on the field, characteristics he brought to political life, and praised his appointment of a commission on the status of women in 1970 and his overseeing of Ireland’s joining of the European Economic Community in 1973.
PPU president Barry Hill said other events are planned to mark the centenary, including a Mass in the Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Anne on October 1, and the naming of an internal road on the North Mon campus, the Jack Lynch Avenue.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved