Tributes led by An Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern this week paid tribute to the late Dr. Hugh Gibbons saying he ‘lived a long life full to the brim of achievement and public service.’  ‘He was one of Roscommon’s favourite son’s and in community life, in politics and in his profession, Hugh Gibbons made a sizeable difference. He will be long remembered in his native county for the positive and generous role he played in its development,’ said the Taoiseach. ‘Hugh was born in Strokestown in the seminal year of 1916 and as a young man he distinguished himself as both a sportsman and a scholar. As a community doctor and District Medical Officer in Boyle, Hugh was hardworking and a strong advocate of improved medical facilities. In this role, he helped countless families across Roscommon. ‘Hugh will, of course, always be a hero to all football supporters in Roscommon. He was part of that county’s finest generation of footballers. He won back to back All-Ireland medals in 1943 and 1944.  That side contained some of the true greats of Gaelic Games – players of the calibre of Jimmy Murray, Donal Keenan, Owensie Hoare – and Hugh Gibbons too was one of Roscommon’s stars. In the 1960s, Hugh brought to politics the same qualities of loyalty, enthusiasm and dedication that he had previously shown as a doctor and as a footballer. At Lemass’s request, he stood for Fianna Fáil in a by-election in 1964 and while he was not successful on that occasion, he established a solid base for the next General Election. In 1965, Hugh was elected to the Dáil alongside his party colleague, Brian Lenihan. ‘Hugh’s time in the Dáil was one of service, of hard work and real achievement. He was an immensely popular politician and he retained his seat in the 1969 and 1973 General Elections. Hugh retired at the dissolution of the Dáil in 1977. While my time in Leinster House narrowly missed overlapping with Hugh’s, I got to know him well on my numerous visits to Roscommon over the years as a Minister and as Taoiseach. Hugh always had an encouraging word and I respected him greatly as an inspiration to all those who value public service.