9 March 2023
By Tom Collins
Renaissance man Tadhg Curtis has provided community development in Mallow for over 50 years. What makes him very unique is that he has been involved in a leadership role in almost every aspect of the life of his home town. That involvement includes the arts, development and enterprise partnerships, trade unions, community organisations, workers rights and education, local politics, credit unions, sport, residents associations, education, festivals, charities, and the list goes on.
As a B.A. Graduate in Education and Training he is particularly suited to providing inspirational leadership in all of the areas he is active in. In recent times, he is best known as Chairman of the Mallow Arts Collective that organises yearly arts Summer festivals, culture nights, music and choral events, and is the lobbying force behind getting an arts centre for Mallow town. It’s a mark of respect for the man that he looked for seven people to join his arts organising group, but ended up with thirty-five, making it one of Mallow’s biggest committees.
Tadhg is a passionate activist and has been involved with the trade union movement for decades. Tadhg was first elected as a worker representative by his colleagues at the Irish Sugar Company. This was just the beginning of Tadhg’s involvement in the trade union movement as he would later go on to be employed by the Irish Transport and General Union, and SIPTU.
Tadhg’s involvement with activism and community development sparked a broader interest in local politics. “My interaction with Mallow Urban District Council on behalf of the Arts Alliance and my residents association, gave me a keen interest in local government and I decided to stand for election to the Council in 1979”, said Curtis.
Two years into his career as a local representative, Curtis was elected Chairperson of Mallow Urban District Council. Curtis was 26 at the time and remained the youngest ever chair until the council’s abolition in 2014. Curtis went on to serve three terms as Council Chair between 1981 and 1999.
Throughout his entire spell on Mallow Urban District Council he represented Mallow UDC on the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland, which was the representative body of the 78 City Councils, Urban Councils, and Town Commissioners in the country. During his time on the body Curtis served as President twice. In the 102 years of the Association, Curtis was one of only two councillors to hold the office of President on two separate occasions.
Tadhg Curtis has indeed been a natural volunteer all his life. In the early days, when he married wife and singing partner Fran, he immediately lobbied on behalf of his new house neighbours and his proposal to name their new estate Avondale Park was adopted by Mallow UDC. His involvement in Mallow and North Cork life was always legendary – local radio broadcaster, fundraiser, Red Cross, GAA, and Actor. His committee involvements include – early Mallow festivals, St Patrick’s Day Parades, town twinning, Mallow Hospital, Mallow/London reunions, Avondale/Blackwater developments, North Cork Enterprise Board and, of course, the Annual Festival of Carol’s that marks the start of Christmas over past decades.
Tadhg’s name will now go forward alongside the other monthly winners for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year at the annual Gala Awards Lunch in January, 2024.