Liam Conneally. Photograph: Eamon Ward

ENNISTYMON native Liam Conneally has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Galway County Council.

A public servant for over thirty years, Liam will leave his role as Director of Economic Development at Clare County Council later this month to assume the new post in Galway but will be formally ratified next week. He was offered the role after emerging as the preferred candidate in an interview process.

He succeeds Jim Cullen who had been Acting Chief Executive but the last permanent Chief Executive of the local authority was Dr Martina Moloney a native of Gaurus who held the role from 2007 to 2014 after stepping down as Chief Executive of Louth County Council.

Under his remit in Clare, Liam was responsible for economic development, planning, property, the local enterprise office and the Shannon Municipal District. He was a key figure involved in the development of the Ennis 2040 Strategy, the preparation of an application for a South Clare strategic development zone (SDZ) with the University of Limerick, the establishment of a third level education presence in Ennis and the commencement of a Shannon Town masterplan in the aftermath of disappointing outcomes for funding applications in the Airport town.

Prior to joining Clare County Council in August 2016, Liam spent two years and eight months as a senior planner with Limerick City and County Council, Liam was one of the central figures behind the Limerick 2030 DAC set up and the assembly of strategic economic sites. He had been a Director of the Mid-West Regional Authority for six years before moving to the local authority.

A member of the new Office of the Planning Regulator’s national planning knowledge group, Liam is also a member of the Business Committee. He is currently a Director on the Ennis 2040 Designated Activity Company, the Future Mobility Campus Ireland Company, the Clare Economic Zone DAC and MidWest Design DAC.

Now living in Quin, Liam was a member of the famous Clare senior football panel in 1992 crowned Munster champions and is a regular visitor to Cusack Park to support county teams and follow the fortunes of Clooney/Quin and Ennistymon.

Speaking this week, he admitted, “It’s in one way bittersweet that I’m leaving my own county of Clare to take up a promotional opportunity, it hasn’t really been a job to do this work for Co Clare, this was something I found very easy, the relationships I built up with business and elected members, community organisations and different personalities has been enriching for me, it will stand me in good stead.

“I know it is a big job and will be a significant challenge but I know that with the challenges come very significant opportunities, Galway is a great county and the people of Galway are great people. I am looking forward to opening up the new and most likely last quadrant of my working life”.

On Monday, Liam will attend his final meeting of Clare County Council in his current role while this week marked his final time at a sitting of the Economic Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) where glowing tributes were paid to him.

Chair of the SPC, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) said Liam had been “a friend for a long time” and believed his departure would be “a huge powerful loss to this county and SPC. A person, man or woman who arrives in that position it is a great honour for Clare itself to produce the quality of Liam to reach the position and we wish him well”.

Since the redrawing of the electoral boundaries in 2019, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) has had a closer working relationship with Mr Conneally in the Shannon MD. He said, “If there’s one thing that struck me about Liam over the years is that he applies the carpenter rule, measure twice and cut once, that is a great characteristic to have in anything we do, you’ve got to be able to think then think again and make a conclusion, it will stand to him in Galway because there’s quite a bit of measuring to be done”.

An involvement with Liam in the Clare Community Forum in the 2000s was when Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) first became acquainted with the Director, “He always did a thorough job whatever he put his hand to”. Cllr Ryan added, “anything he done was for the benefit of Co Clare, he had Clare in his heart ever since being involved in 1992, anything Liam puts his hand to it is a success. I think he will make a fantastic manager in Galway, you never know we could have him back”.

Tasting an Irish coffee in the Dean Hotel opposite the offices of Galway County Council was recommended by Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG). “He has had many careers as far as I can see but one thing to notice about someone doing well is rapid promotion”.

For a Clare man to get the position is “a great honour,” Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) remarked. “Liam Conneally is going to be a huge loss to this county,” he predicted. “He has the personality and professionalism to deliver, now he is going onto Galway, I wish him the very best, hopefully we will improve our linkages with Galway”.

Ennis based Cllr Pat Daly (FF) added that the Director was very “knowledgeable and when you think on something you didn’t get in the way. The football served you well”. He queried if he would be supporting Clare or Galway this Sunday in Cusack Park to which Cllr Ryan pointed out that the maroon tie he had one was a worrying sign.

Responding to the views of SPC members, Liam thanked them for educating him at every meeting. He praised The Clare Echo for producing “very fair and balanced” coverage consistently regarding SPC business.

Special thanks was reserved for the team that worked closely alongside Liam in the Economic Development directorate such as Padraic McElwee, Carmel Greene, Helen Quinn, Linda Earlie and Anne Griffin who he heralded as “people of high calibre who work hard for the benefit of Clare”. The continued contribution and “steadfast organisation” of Valerie Fleming was acknowledged by Liam in his closing remarks.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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