In his agency in Ennis he was known as ‘The Boss’, but to all involved in Ireland’s travel industry Tom Mannion was a legend.
A great supporter of the travel trade, Tom was always there to lend a hand or offer a word of advice. He served on many committees and on several occasions was asked to serve as President of the Irish Travel Agents Association – but always declined, preferring to stay in the background, while always being available to help. Few believed that Tom was all of 82 years such was his boundless enthusiasm.
He started his career at Shannon Airport in the old Sales & Catering organisation. Very quickly Brendan O’Regan spotted his talent and placed him in an Accounts position at the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, which was then owned by the O’Regan family. This was the start of his 62 years’ association with the town of Ennis.
Born in Cragg near Birdhill, Co Tipperary, Tom was a passionate follower of sport. He was for many years the anchorman of STAGS Golf. His love of the GAA was legendary, having attended no less than 119 All-Ireland Finals in hurling and football, his last one being his beloved Tipperary’s famous victory over Kilkenny in September 2010.
Tom believed in giving back to his local community and so he was associated with many clubs and committees in Ennis. These included the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil committee (1956), founder member of An Tostal (1953), Ennis Tidy Towns, founder member of Clare Tourist Council (1961), member of Shannonside Regional Tourism (1975), Rent-an-Irish-Cottage and the Skal Club of Shannon. Over the years he was active in campaigns to support Shannon Airport, as well as retaining services at Ennis Hospital.
Tom understood the need for strong Business Advocacy Groups and was active in Ennis Chamber of Commerce, serving as President in 1973. He gave freely of his time working with the local St Vincent de Paul Society. He was a great fundraiser with the Lions Club of which he was a founder member in 1978. The Lions Club raised substantial funds for local worthy causes and, as usual, Tom was right in their midst.
Tom founded his travel agency and car rentals business 47 years ago and it has been a cornerstone of Ennis commercial life ever since. He trained many industry stalwarts including Michael Doorley, Tony Fitzpatrick and Eileen Tuite. He was always available to offer help to anyone in the travel trade in need of assistance. When the trade was under siege he was always around to lend his voice in its defence.
Tom’s funeral was a great testimony to his standing in the local community. The Cathedral in Ennis was packed to capacity and his great friend Canon Brendan O’Donoghue paid a glowing tribute to him. He said that: “Tom Mannion’s fingerprints were to be found on so much that was done in Ennis during his 60 plus years living there.” All who knew Tom felt a personal sense of loss, but none more so than his family to whom he was so devoted.
To his wife Breda, sons Gearoid and Leo, daughters Ann Marie, Mairead and Regina and their families, we offer our most sincere sympathies in their and our great loss.