SF Mayor of Cashel who made history by shaking hands with the Queen has died

Amongst the plethora of Orange-tinged posts on Slugger this week, there’s room to highlight that today’s Belfast Telegraph notes the death of the Sinn Fein councillor “who made history by shaking hands with the Queen”.

Michael Browne, who was Mayor of Cashel in Co Tipperary, died on Saturday night following a long battle with cancer.

Mr Browne had been widely praised for his decision to defy Sinn Fein’s advice to members to stay away from all events linked to the royal party in May. He personally welcomed the Queen to Cashel when she visited the rock during her historic visit and shook her hand to become the first Irish republican to officially greet a British monarch.

“I just said to her: ‘Welcome to Cashel, Your Majesty, and I hope you enjoy your stay’. No more, no less,” he said afterwards.

Mr Browne is survived by three sons and one daughter.

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  • Although I am not a republican, I salute anybody who challenges their own party’s established political thinking in that way.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Browne.

  • Munsterview

    A sad day for the ‘Old Guard’, Mick was a much respected comrade and he will be sadly missed by all of us. The courageous way that he faced up to his illness and still carried on in public life to the best of his ability will come as no surprise to those who know of the contribution that he made to The Republican Movement and to Irish Republicanism.

    Mick was one who always see the 32 County dimension of Republicanism…. and the need for constant activity and attention to Southern politics generally and not just what impinged in the North even at the height of the Hunger Strikes and other events where the Northern agenda totally dominated.

    There was a fine tradition of Republican activism in South Tip but also one of accommodation and tolerance with those of other beliefs going back to Kickam and before. Indeed the latter touched on this very nicely in his story where ‘The Honor Of The Little Village’ took prominence over all else.

    Rooted in this proud tradition, Mick was never afraid to do the right thing as he see it whether that was rallying his Northern Comrades when few were there to stand the ‘Bearna Baol or rising above the dictates of party to truly represent the wishes of his region as Lord Mayor. He had little patience for the niceties of shaking hands with Tony Blair and not the Queen given that they both represented different sides of the same coin ! He was always and remained his own man even to the very end.

    Siochain De ar h-Anam laoch fior croga Arm An Pholabach Na h-Eireann !

    We have also lost another fine Republican Comrade back in Kerry, Liam Cotter who will also be mourned by all Republicans well outside the RSF circles that he played such a prominent part in. I will comment later when one of his own party colleagues have first payed their tribute here. ( As yet, to the best of my knowledge, no funeral arrangements finalized for the remains of Liam. )

    Micheal Brown Sinn Fein, Lord Mayor of Cashel, funeral arrangements.

    Former Mayor of Cashel and Chairman of the Tipperary Camogie Board. Reposing at Kearney’s residence in Clonoulty today, Tuesday, from 3pm to 9pm. Removal to St John the Baptist Church, Cashel tomorrow, Wednesday, at 11am for Funeral Mass at 12 noon. Interment afterwards in Cormack’s Cemetery. Family flowers only please. Donations, if desired, to South Tipperary Hospice.

    Date published: Tuesday, July 12, 2011
    Date of death: Sunday, July 10, 2011

  • pippakin

    It makes no difference if Mr Browne was acting from his own sense of duty to his community or if, as has been suggested, it was Sinn Fein testing the ‘water’. It was a courageous decision by a man who could have understandably and respectably refused the task. A brave man who served his community well. Respect. RIP Mr Browne.

  • GavBelfast

    He did his bit.

    Rest In Peace.

  • rockofcashel

    I only signed up and logged in because I saw that this thread had been started on Facebook.

    When I did, I read the post above by Munsterview and it was as close to epitomising my fathers view, as I have seen written or spoken by him anywhere.

    Many many things have been said about my father and the shaking of the hand of the Queen of England. It was an historic gesture. But my father didn’t see it as “gesture” politics. He didn’t do gesture politics.

    He saw it as a duty he owed to the people of Cashel. All of the people of Cashel. Those who voted for him, and those who didn’t. As the Mayor of the town, he believed it was his duty to represent everybody.

    His wider political views were the same. He spent his life believing in a United Ireland, and was a completely committed Republican. But he also understood that the Unionist and Loyalist community were also entitled to their opinions regarding the future of Ireland, and that the only way to achieve an acceptable lasting agreement would be by dialogue within all the communities of the island, irrespective of whatever politics people had or none.

    And that was even reflected in his funeral mass, which was celebrated not only by the Catholic parish priest of Cashel, but also by our local Protestant Minister, Dean Philip Knowles.

    He was happy to shake the hand of the Queen of England, but he didn’t want it to be the only thing he would be remembered for. He was just as happy a week later, to officiate at a civic reception for our local rugby team. That was just the way he was. No-one was more important than anyone else to him.

    I know his actions in May were reported by the Belfast Telegraph, and his death last week was announced by that paper too. I also know that he received many many good wishes and congratulations from people on all sides of the political spectrum after he did what he did (we were inundated with cards and letters !!! )

    To anyone who expressed those good wishes, and latterly condolences.. thank you very much on behalf of my family.

    Ps.. just as an aside.. shaking hands with the Queen was not the only little bit of history my father made.. less well known is the fact, that he was also the first Sinn Féin elected representative in the Republic of Ireland to give a broadcast interview after the Section 31 ban was lifted in 1993. A set piece interview was given on national radio I think at 1 o clock the day the ban was lifted.. but my father had already been interviewed that morning on local radio at 11 o clock