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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Gerry L'Estrange

Matthew Gerrard "Gerry" L'Estrange (7 November 1917 – 5 April 1996) was an Irish Fine Gael politician, who sat in the Oireachtas for nearly thirty years, as a Senator and then as a Teachta Dála (TD).

L'Estrange was elected to Westmeath County Council in 1942, and served on that body until 1981 – one of its longest records of service. He was Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) of the Council for three years from 1959 to 1961 and served on virtually all the subsidiary and other bodies to which the council made appointments. He was chairman of the General Council of County Councils (Ireland) on three occasions, now known as the Association of County and City Councils.

L'Estrange was unsuccessful Clann na Talmhan candidate for Dáil Éireann at the 1944 general election. He later joined Fine Gael and ran as their candidate at the 1948 general election, but was again unsuccessful. In 1954 he secured election to the 8th Seanad Éireann on the Administrative Panel. He was re-elected in 1957 to 9th Seanad, and in 1961 to 10th Seanad.

After another unsuccessful candidacy at the 1961 general election, L'Estrange was finally elected to the 18th Dáil for the Longford–Westmeath constituency at the 1965 election, and was re-elected at each successive election until he retired from politics at the 1987 general election.

After the 1981 general election, a Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition was returned to office in the 22nd Dáil under Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald. L'Estrange was appointed Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, a position which included the role of Chief Whip.

In 1973, L'Estrange was appointed a member of the second delegation from the Oireachtas to the European Parliament and re-appointed to the third delegation in 1977.

When his party was in Government and was being attacked by Fianna Fáil on the draining of the River Shannon, he is reputed to have replied "If you can suck as well as you can blow, the Shannon will be drained by teatime".

Gerry L'Estrange was born in Correaly, Street, County Westmeath the eldest of six children of farmer Patrick L'Estrange and Maud (née Byrne).

He was a noted athlete who competed on the national and local stage in long distance running. In 1955, he married farmer's daughter Aileen Kellaghan from Ballinriddera, Multyfarnham, County Westmeath. They lived in Killintown, Multyfarnham.

Both L'Estrange and his wife were keen on greyhound racing, owning and training their own dogs.

L'Estrange died on Good Friday, 1996 after a long illness, Later that month both Houses of the Oireachtas observed a one minute silence following expressions of sympathy. The Taoiseach, John Bruton, spoke of a man who "could speak strongly and from a deep conviction and at the same time hold no personal malice towards any of the victims of his eloquence". Maurice Manning recalled a man never "in bad humour or without that smile which usually meant that a practical joke or a good story was on the way".

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