Austin Berry, a native of Offaly who became known for his involvement in traditional music, the Defence Forces, and local politics, died earlier today (Monday) at the age of 83.
He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, at his home in Assumption Road, Athlone.
Austin was born in a two roomed cottage in Clonshanny, near Ballycumber, in 1930, and grew up in an idyllic 'To School Through The Fields’ world, where children went to school barefoot and families worked and lived off the land.
He came to Athlone to join the Army in the late 1940s and subsequently worked in several roles to enhance and promote the Defence Forces.
In a parallel career to his life in Custume Barracks, he was a talented musician. One of the country’s highest rated mouthorgan players, he won four All-Ireland championships for playing the instrument and also helped to bring young musicians to the same prizewinning level.
Politics came later in life for him and he won a tough local election to join Athlone Town Council as an Independent in 1999, when he was 69 years old.
He spent ten years as a councillor, the highlight of which was the year (2004/05) in which he served as Mayor of Athlone. His autobiography, 'Stepping Back in Time’, was launched in 2012.
May he rest in peace.