4 March 2024

~3 minutes read

Clare native Leonard Cleary approved as new Galway City Council chief executive

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Clare native Leonard Cleary approved as new Galway City Council chief executive

The Elected Members of Galway City Council today approved the appointment of Leonard Cleary as Chief Executive of Galway City Council.

Mr. Cleary, whose appointment follows a recruitment process conducted by the Public Appointments Service, assumes the role held by Brendan McGrath from 2013 until his retirement in 2023.

A native of Corofin in North Clare, Mr. Cleary has over 26 years of experience in local government having held several senior leadership roles in Clare County Council, including in Housing, Tourism, Human Resources, and Community and Rural Development. He also was Ennis Town Clerk in Ennis Town Council with a significant interest in urban economic regeneration.

Under Mr. Cleary’s stewardship as Director of Service, Clare County Council was the first local authority in the country to produce a Rural Development Strategy supported by a full Directorate. Subsequently, he led the first dedicated Tourism Development Directorate in a local authority in the country guided by a ten-year County Tourism Strategy.

The graduate of DCU, UCC, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway and the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) also oversaw the development of a Digital Hub network across Clare, and, more recently, the transfer of the Shannon Heritage portfolio of visitor attractions from the Shannon Airport Group to Clare County Council.

Under his Tourism Development remit, Mr. Cleary was responsible for the management of Clare’s leading tourism attractions including the Cliffs of Moher Experience, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Loop Head Lighthouse, and Vandeleur Walled Garden and Visitor Centre.

The father of four was appointed a permanent deacon in Charleville in Cork three years ago, under new lay structures of the Catholic Church

The Mayor of the City of Galway Cllr. Eddie Hoare commented, “On behalf of the Elected Members, I wish Leonard Cleary every success in his new role. Galway City Council will greatly benefit from his wealth of experience in all areas of local authority work from community to housing and from tourism to enterprise.  My colleagues and I look forward to working with Leonard Cleary when he takes up his new position in May.”

Mr. Cleary said he was “honoured and excited” about assuming the role, adding, “I wish to thank the Mayor and Elected Members of Galway City Council for approving the appointment and I look forward to working in partnership with them.”

“The scale and ambition of the projects undertaken by Galway City Council in recent years underlines the central role it plays in the economic and social development of the country’s fourth largest city,” he said. “A thriving Galway City has significant positive implications for the wider hinterland in the West of Ireland, and I look forward to developing a close and proactive working relationship with the Elected Members, staff of the local authority and community and business stakeholders over the coming years.”

“I wish to acknowledge and thank my colleague, Patricia Philbin, who has served as Interim Chief Executive since June 2023 for her excellent stewardship, and to especially acknowledge the huge commitment to Galway City Council of my predecessor Brendan McGrath,” concluded Mr. Cleary.

Mr Cleary’s appointment will mean that both the city and county CEOs are Clare natives who have transferred from Clare County Council

County council CEO Liam Conneally, who took up his position last summer, is a native of Ennistymon

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