BY EMMA CONNOLLY
PETER Sutherland’s contributions locally have been remembered fondly as the former attorney general was laid to rest.
Mr Sutherland, who had a holiday home in Goleen and relatives in Dunmanus, died aged 71 after a successful international career spanning government, law and business.
Former FG TD Jim O’Keeffe, Bandon, described Mr Sutherland as ‘larger than life’ and a ‘stand-out figure.’
‘He was full of energy and enthusiasm for everything he engaged in and completed everything with huge ability. He was a force to be reckoned with in all he did, and had a major input on both the national and international stage.’
Mr O’Keeffe recalled his support when a third level centre was being established in Skibbereen some time back.
Mr Sutherland, he remembered, helped in the campaign to deliver the centre and later opened what was called The Sutherland Centre, North Street in his honour.
Neill Clarke, a community activist in Bantry, recalled his first encouter with Mr Sutherland – playing against him in schools rugby in Dublin.
‘He was with Gonzaga College and me with Castleknock College. As well as the scrum, we seemed to encounter each other at every, maul, ruck and break down, we ended up playing each other to a stand still.’
Years later they met at a Chambers Ireland AGM in Bray where Mr Sutherland was the keynote speaker.
‘He had just been appointed EU Commissioner. I positioned myself where he would see me coming out of the Hall. “Neill Clarke, the Castleknock prop,’’ he said; “Guilty as charged,” I replied.
‘He agreed to come to Bantry and speak to our Chamber, the first Chamber he spoke to on his appointment as Commissioner. This took place at the Reendesert Hotel in Ballylickey and was a great success. He was passionate about the EU and the potential for Ireland. He was a champion of free trade, and free movement of people,’ said Neill,
Mr Sutherland’s mother Barbara (nee Neilan) was related to O’Mahony’s, from Dunmanus and Kilcrohane, and he built a holiday home in Goleen where he loved spending time with his family.
Neill added: ‘One day he was strolling around Bantry, we met and we went for a pint. After a while the proprietor came up to us and said: “I know you from some where, are you a footballer? “No”, “You’re not a hurler. Soccer?,” “No,” “A famous rugby player?” “No, not really.” At this stage I said’ “EU Commissioner’’ to which the reply was “OK, sorry about that.” Peter said: “That’s what I love about West Cork, you are never allowed get above yourself.”’