Tierney was born in Galway's Mainguard Street, the son of John Tierney of Hollymount, County Mayo, and Ellen Kinnevey of Roscahill, County Galway. He had siblings Jack and Mary. The family ran a grocery. After the early death of his father, the business was sold and Ellen re-joined her first profession, nursing.
Tierney began working for Coras Imopair Éireann (CIE) shortly after leaving school, and was to become a prominent member of the Irish Transport & General Workers Union, been variously branch secretary and vice-President. His work in trade unionism brought him into politics; in 1960 he was elected to Galway Corporation, and became Mayor as an Independent Labour candidate, the first of the kind in Galway. He made industrial unrest and unemployment his priority, and was proud of the fact that while he was Mayor, no industrial action was taken in the city. This was avoided because Tierney made himself constantly available for negotiations between management and unions.
He made history in 1968 when he became the first Mayor from Ireland to wear his robes of office in Stormont Castle while meeting the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O'Neill. Among the items discussed were tourism, and the unsettling political situation. In March 1968 he was guest of honor of Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago during the Saint Patrick's Day parade. On this trip he addressed the United States House of Representatives, and in Boston visited American soldiers wounded in Vietnam. One of the latter was a Lieutenant David Tierney, who told Mayor Tierney his grandparents were from Galway.
Tierney spent nineteen years on the Corporation, fifteen on the Harbour Board as Commissioner, and a number of other private and public associations. He married Margaret (Peggy) Lydon in 1945, and their children were John, Francis, Evelyn, Thomas, Margaret, Della, Stephanie, Michael. He is buried in New Cemetery, Bohermore.
- Role of Honour:The Mayors of Galway City 1485-2001, William Henry (historian), Galway 2001.
|Mayor of Galway