GAA president John Horan led the tributes to former Leinster Council chairman and GAA presidential candidate Sheamus Howlin, who passed away last weekend. He said Sheamus was a man who “epitomised everything good about the Association”.
After hanging up his boots for his local club St Martin’s in Co Wexford, Sheamus developed a reputation as an outstanding administrator at club, county, provincial and national level, and for being a ‘man of his word’.
An accountant by profession, he also held the position of chairperson of Wexford County Board and was a GAA trustee.
He was Leinster Council chair from 2008 to 2011 and ran for the GAA presidency in 2014 only to lose out to Aoghan O Fearghail, who received 170 votes. Sheamus got 83 votes and Seán Walsh from Moyvane in Kerry 57.
In 2011, he became the last contender to withdrew from the race to become GAA president, allowing Laois’ Liam O’Neill to become the first president of the Association to be appointed without a contest. Sheamus not wanting to “divide the Leinster support”.
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan has extended his deepest sympathies and those of the entire Association to the family of the late Sheamus Howlin who passed away on Saturday after a brave battle with illness.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) December 2, 2018
Earlier this year, new GAA president John Horan appointed him chair of the GAA’s Insurance & Risk Management Committee.
Paying tribute Horan said: “The GAA has lost a great friend and a great leader in the passing of Sheamus Howlin.
“Over a distinguished lifetime of unselfish service, Sheamus epitomised everything good about the Association and about making a contribution that would always be for the betterment of the GAA and for the benefit of many.
“His energy, his work rate and above all his positive personality and ability to get on with people and bring them together made him a hugely popular figure throughout the GAA.
“He was fiercely proud of his club St Martin’s and of his county of Wexford. A former Chairman of the Leinster Council, he was a key figure in developing and supporting the growth of the GAA overseas and served on several national committees where his experience was invaluable.
Ar dheis de go raibh anam. pic.twitter.com/EfRndzCGVU
— Leinster GAA (@gaaleinster) December 1, 2018
“He showed remarkable courage and grace throughout his battle with illness where he continued to attend meetings and matches as much as possible. His loss will be felt by many and we send our deepest condolences to his wife Vera and family and to his wide circle of friends at home and abroad.”
Martin Skelly, who served as vice chair to Sheamus during his three-year term as Leinster council chairperson, told the Irish World: “I found Sheamus very easy to work with. I learnt an awful lot about how a chairman should act and perform. He gave me a terrific insight.
“He shared a lot with me; his experience of situations which would arise when being chairman and how he dealt with them.
“He had a great way with people – he made people feel very good about themselves. When he requested someone to take on a chore or a task [for Leinster Council] he managed to make them feel very special. That the work was meaningful and that Leinster Council really appreciated it.
Wexford GAA community extends its sincere sympathy to the Howlin Family on the sad passing of Sheamus, former Chair of Wexford and @gaaleinster To all who knew him a gentleman and someone who promoted all that is good in GAA, Players, administration valued his advice RIP Sheamus pic.twitter.com/M3uAylQkS9
— Wexford GAA (@OfficialWexGAA) December 2, 2018
“Anytime I needed to seek an opinion his phoneline was always open. Not only did I learn a lot about the job of being Leinster chairman, I learned a lot about the human side that was Sheamus Howlin.
“Sheamus was not only a good GAA man, but he was a good person.”
Wexford GAA posted on social media: “To all who knew him a gentleman and someone who promoted all that is good in GAA, Players, administration valued his advice RIP Sheamus”.
Leinster GAA posted: “Leinster Council GAA would like to extend our condolences to the family of our former Chairman Sheamus Howlin (2008-2011). A proud @StMartinsGAA and @OfficialWexGAA man. Ar dheis de go raibh anam.”