Writes Leo McMahon
Martha Drake, ‘the face and the voice of Cork County Council’ for 44 years at reception and the switchboard in County Hall was honoured at her retirement from fellow staff members at a packed canteen on Thursday, May 11th.
Leading the tributes, senior executive officer, corporate services, Mairead Lucey said Martha had assisted thousands of people over the years with courtesy and good humour and had been a fantastic representative of the council. Possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge, she was the ‘go to’ person for staff and elected members. She particularly praised her role in continuing the switchboard service during the Covid restrictions, sometimes remotely from her home in Courtmacsherry where she was also a marvellous contributor to the local community.
‘You have been an anchor to us and have the unique ability to send people away smiling,’ added Mairead who presented Martha with a Rynhart sculpture on behalf of the staff.
Administrative officer, corporate services, Mairin O’Sullivan concurred saying: ‘Your personality is infectious, along with your quick wit. People are very drawn to you. There was always someone stopping at the desk for a quick chat because you had time for everyone, and everyone had time for you. You will be missed, and Co. Hall will never be the same again’. Mairin presented Martha with a floral bouquet and gift on behalf of staff colleagues.
Former switchboard colleague, Feena Desmond, Crosshaven and daughter of former County Mayor, Paula Desmond, Carrigaline said working with Martha for ten years was everything she could have asked for. ‘As a supervisor, you were always supportive, patient, approachable, helpful and as a friend always loyal, inclusive, great craic and generous to a fault.’ Paula also extended best wishes from her stepfather and retired switchboard operator Joe Feery.
Returning thanks, Martha said that she when she joined the council in 1979 it was a different world, Pope John Paul II came to Ireland and Fianna Fail were in power! ‘There are not many who can say that they started and finished in almost the same spot but I guess it shows how much I really liked what I did over the years being the first point of contact with the public either by phone or in person’.
Martha named and thanked all her switchboard colleagues over the years: Frances Jones, Pat McCarthy, Marguerite Hamilton, Tracy Sheehan, Nuala Coveney, Susan Murphy, Vicky Dineen, Claire Lynch, Treasa Cooney, Helen Pyne, Feena Desmond, Joe Feery and more recently Clare Fanysna and Aoife Barrow.
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