*Mark Nestor celebrating his election to Clare County Council in 2019. Photograph: Martin Connolly

A STANDING OVATION was extended to Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) as he attended his final Council meeting on Monday with his colleagues predicting he will one day become an Archbishop.

As first reported by The Clare Echo, the Cloughleigh man has resigned his seat on Clare County Council to enter the priesthood. First elected to the local authority in 2019, he vacated the post on Tuesday morning and heads to The Royal English College of Valladolid in Madrid to begin his initiation to the priesthood on Wednesday.

Addressing Monday’s meeting, Mayor of Clare, Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) noted that Nestor’s departure was “unique in a sense”. He commended the county’s youngest councillor for his “extraordinary” service to the people, his community and Fianna Fáil. “It is a brave and courageous decision, you are a person and a man to be admired and respected”.

Supporters of Nestor including Tony Brohan, Seamus O’Sullivan, Gerry Reidy and Tom O’Callaghan were among those in the public gallery along with Cathal Crowe TD (FF).

His Ennis colleague, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) was in jovial form. He predicted Mark would be as successful in the priesthood as he was in local politics. “You represented Cloughleigh to fantastic effect, saw that with vote you got. I’ve no doubt you will be a fine priest and a Bishop. I believe you’re flying to Madrid on Wednesdays, myself and Mace (Cllr Pat McMahon) had a discussion, we’re Man Utd supporters, if it happens that they are drawn against Real Madrid, maybe the monastery could spare a few beds or even a nun for Pat Mace. Leonard Cleary went to Maynooth and he came back married, the best of luck to you”.


Wearing the mayoral chains in the Ennis Municipal District for a second time was made possible for Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) as a result of Cllr Nestor’s decision. She said that he had been “walking the walk and talking the talk since he was a very young man”. The Quin native recalled how well he spoke at the Fianna Fáil Ennis Comhairle Ceanntair selection convention when he initially missed out on a place on the ticket. She went as far as to predict that he would one day become an Archbishop.

His sense and practicality was referenced by Cllr Mary Howard (FG). “Mark is a guy with great integrity, he loves his family and he is part of the Fianna Fáil family which is not a bad thing, we will miss you,” she commented while suggesting he return when ordained in seven years time to officiate at the Council’s mass in the Foyer. The humility shown by Cllr Nestor was his standout trait, according to Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF).

Admiration of how Nestor represented his MD was voiced by Cllr Joe Cooney (FG). “You went about your business and kept your head down, I wish you the very best of luck. Great credit is due to you. Maybe one night I could come knocking on your door for absolution”. Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) added, “It has been great to get to know you. I watched how you worked so well, your vote for a first-timer showed your community and people of Enns had great trust and believed in you”.

How Nestor brought “young blood” to the Council was an important moment for his party, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) maintained. “You’ve sat back, listened and taken it all in, your dedication to your community and Irish language is exemplary, you always avail of any opportunity to promote it”. He said his interview on Clare FM last week highlighted his honesty and dignity, “you will rise through the ranks and be back in our community again”.

His departure serves as a massive loss to Fianna Fáil, Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) believed. “I was asked if Mark would make it in politics before, I said he’d be a TD and he’d have been a great one because he has standards. Of all the people I’ve served alongside, Mark was one of the people who stood out, he had a lovely way of putting complex things in short sentences”.

Sitting beside the 30 year old was “an honour” for Cllr Shane Talty (FF), “I’ve no doubt he will come back to serve the county in whatever parish is lucky enough to have him”. Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) joked that he would email or text on his sins to his colleague while adding that his handle of the Irish language was superior to Cllr Kelly’s.


Cloughleigh received a major lift with the election of Cllr Nestor, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) stated, “I have great respect for people who can make a decision and stand over it. My Dad always said to me, ‘there is only one constant in life and that is change,’”. A measured approach was always evident with the Ennis man, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) remarked, “If you think you’re gone from politics wit what you’re going into, then the best of luck to you”.

In the eyes of Cllr John Crowe (FG), Mark is “a true gent” and “someone you could depend your life on. It’s Ennis’ and the County Council’s loss but it’s the Catholic Church’s gain”. Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) was adamant his colleague would be “an awful loss” and quipped, “councillors drove him from Fianna Fáil into the priesthood”.

Well-wishes were also voiced by Cllr Paul Murphy (FG), Cllr Michael Begley (IND), Cllr PJ Ryan (IND), Cllr Pat Burke (FG), Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG), Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG), Cllr Ann Norton (IND), Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) and Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF).

Chief Executive of the Council, Pat Dowling praised Nestor how he treated staff in the local authority. “It will be a long journey and big step from councillor to priesthood, from politics to poison, from darkness into light if you want to apply another narrative”.

Responding to the many tributes, Cllr Nestor admitted that he thoroughly enjoyed his three years in politics. “To my fellow elected colleagues, what can I say, very simply thank you very much from the bottom of your heart, the kindness you showed to me as the youngest councillor in Clare is very much appreciated”.

He was hopeful the experience gained in political life would stand to him in the priesthood. “It has always been my intention to serve the people of Clare to the best of my ability, I intend to do so going forward but in a different capacity”. Nestor concluded, “with the help of God, I will be back working in the county of Clare”.

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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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