Retiring Westmeath TD Looks Back On Long Political Career

It all started with his name getting pulled out of a hat.

A former midlands minister of state says his political career began because his name was picked out of a hat.

Willie Penrose served as a Labour TD in Westmeath since 1992 but decided not to run in the recent general election.

The Ballynacarrigy man joined the party as early as the 1960s and  has worked since then to promote the Labour message in the area.

But he first became a public rep when he co-opted onto Westmeath County Council in 1984 in unusual circumstances:

Willie also says he holds the record for the youngest ever branch secretary.

He first started out in the party when he was appointed secretary of the Ballynacarrigy branch aged just 13.

It's no surprise he started out so early, with his roots firmly in the Labour movement - his grandmother was in the 1913 Lockout and his father was later involved with trade unions.

But on the night of the revival of the local party branch, Willie was suggested as a prime candidate for the role of secretary:

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