27 Sept 2022

Tributes paid following the death of former Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta

Pádraig Ó hAoláin was a regular visitor to Donegal

Tributes paid following the death of former Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta

The late Pádraig Ó hAoláin

Tributes have been flowing in following the sad news that the death has taken place of Pádraig Ó hAoláin, former Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Mr Ó hAoláin, a native of Cloughjordan in County Tipperary, was very well known in Donegal where he was instrumental in many projects that led to the creation of countless jobs spanning a number of decades.

Among those who have paid tribute are Anna Ní Ghallachair, Chair of the Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta and Micheál Ó hÉanaigh, the organisation's Chief Executive, said that the death of the former Chief Executive.

In a joint statement, they said: “Patrick was a talented, considerate, kind leader. He was a community man and a Gaeltacht man to the core, although he was brought up in Tipperary. He spent his life working in such a way that the people of the Gaeltacht would not be destined for 'the ship over' and we are indebted to him.

“On behalf of Údarás na Gaeltachta, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Betty, all his family and friends. A bed among the saints that he had. ”

During his time in Údarás na Gaeltachta, he built up a great rapport with various media outlets and was always to the fore in promoting projects, and also having to deal with a variety of challenging issues - including job losses - in fluctuation economic climates.

Although he was interested in the Irish language growing up in Tipperary, it was during his time working in England in the late 1960s that the seeds of his life were sown in the Gaeltacht. 

He used to work on the construction of the tunnels with the people of Connemara and Donegal, who were greatly influenced by their language and Gaeltacht heritage. 

He was also a songwriter. His most famous song, Cóilín Phádraig Séamuis , was inspired by that period and the "continuous migration pattern" of Connemara .

Reflecting on his book, he said: “It occurred to me that it was the destiny of the people of Connemara, that they had to leave, that the white boat had been waiting for them from the day they were born and that all Colin James James had to leave and the things they had practiced, things that they had a nature to abandon the language, the sea, the bog and the native life of the Gaeltacht. That's where it came from.”

On his return to Ireland in 1968 he completed his degree at the University of Dublin and later spent a few years as a teacher at Belvedere College.

He moved to the Connemara Gaeltacht in 1970 where he raised his family through the medium of Irish. 

He was also a fine hurler in his young days.

He began working with Gaeltarra Éireann, and was later appointed manager of the Gaeltacht industries division. He also spent eight years as manager of the Comharchumann Cois Fharraige

On his return to Údarás na Gaeltachta, which replaced Gaeltarra in 1980, he was appointed communications manager until 2000. 

He was then appointed Deputy Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta and was responsible for regional development. In 2005 he became Chief Executive and oversaw many changes.

He was also a firm supporter of having an Irish language television station and was also instrumental in the development of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge.

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