Cllr. Mary Hilda Cavanagh was first elected to Kilkenny County Council while still a college student in 1974 and has held a seat for Fine Gael in North Kilkenny in nine successive Local Elections. She was elected in the first count in the 2019 Local Election and is the longest serving, continuously elected woman councillor in Ireland.
Mary Hilda has served three terms as Chairperson of Kilkenny County Council (1983-1984; 2004-2005 and 2015-2016) and was twice elected Vice-Chairperson.
She is the Whip of the Fine Gael Group on Kilkenny County Council and chairperson of the Strategic Policy Committee on Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Energy.
Mary Hilda holds a BA in History and Economics (UCD, 1973) and a Higher Diploma in Education (NUI Maynooth, 1974).
A qualified secondary school teacher, she taught economics, history and maths for many years at the Presentation Secondary School in Ballingarry, Co. Tipperary.
She has a strong interest in education and is a long serving member of Co. Kilkenny VEC (now Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board) (1974 to date) which she chaired for over 20 years. She is a member of the Board of Management of Castlecomer Community School, Coláiste Mhuire, Johnstown and Ormonde College, Kilkenny. She chaired the board of management at Galmoy NS for many years and is a former member of the Board of Management of Abbey College Ferrybank; Grennan College, Thomastown; and Duiske College, Graiguenamanagh.
Mary Hilda is currently Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Governors in Waterford Institute of Technology and has just completed a term on the Governing Authority of UCD.
She is a qualified Adult Literacy Tutor and represented VECs on the Executive of the National Adult Literacy Agency and Aontas for several years. She is a a former Chairperson of the County Library Committee.
Mary Hilda was the first ever Chairperson of the County Development Board. She is a former Chairperson of the South Eastern Regional Arts Advisory Committee and has served on the South East Regional Authority.
Mary Hilda farms with her husband Eddie and son Brian in Galmoy and is a former Vice chairperson of the Kilkenny County Committee of Agriculture. She is a member of the IFA.
She has three adult children – Sarah, Anne Marie and Brian and two grandchildren – Olivia and Edward.
Her main hobbies are gardening, crochet and walking her dog, Pippa.