On Friday night last, outgoing Independent TD. Deputy Michael Lowry launched one of the most successful political campaigns ever witnessed in the rural town of Thurles.
Met Eireann’s M/s Joan Blackburn had forecast severe frost with temperatures dropping as low as minus five degrees on Friday night: promising it to be coldest in the Midlands. As we headed eastward towards the Dublin Road from Thurles town centre, my car’s on-board external thermometer read minus three.
Joan Blackburn was right.
As we approached the gates of our destination, well before time, a parking attendant politely informed us that there was ‘no room at the Inn‘. “Try your luck parking in one of the nearby housing estates”, the helpful attendant advised. Having eventually found a parking spot, we walked back to our originally targeted destination; the Anner Hotel. The three car-parks were truly over subscribed; each parked vehicle heavily covered in a coating of fragile white crystallized frost. Nowhere were buses to be seen. Buses are normally used to transport “Rent-a-Crowd,” for important political events, as we had observed were undertaken by the Tipperary Labour Party for their recent Political Launch. For this event also, unlike the Labour Party candidate, no four man cordon of armed police were deemed necessary.
The parking attendant was right.
A sudden rush of warm air met us as we entered the Anner in Thurles, latter now a jewel in the crown of Irish Mid-land Hotel accommodation. Despite the freezing weather outside, the interior of the building was warm and not surprisingly, bursting with people. We attempted to make our way slowly towards the bar area; friends, casual acquaintances and total stranger were everywhere evident.
Valerie O’Reilly (Unicorn PR & Communications Ltd) had ventured to made the treacherous slippery 152.5km (95ml) journey from Dublin, thankfully arriving safely. Having given birth to a beautiful baby girl just three short months ago, she was back working, engaged once again in her professional duties. Readers will remember the “storm in the teacup” back in January 2015, when the Dublin Media were having their bad news week after Xmas. Some malicious opposition colleague stalking the hallowed halls of Dáil Éireann had located a note intended for Taoiseach Enda Kenny. It was identified as being penned by Tipperary Independent TD Michael Lowry. The note which did reach the Taoiseach’s desk, later mysteriously turning up in the hands of Dublin Media – The Sunday Independent. The contents of the note had stated that Valerie was “A woman, bright, intelligent and not bad looking either.”
From the picture shown above left, I believe most people would agreed with his statement.
Michael Lowry was right.
From the size of the crowd now already gathered and those still entering through the hotels exterior portals, it was obvious the carefully arranged original 350 seats provided, would prove to be insufficient. Professional sound and vision technicians (Star Systems) had arrived earlier in the day, insisting on erecting two large format digital TV screens, to broadcast into the hotel’s Bar area and front Foyer. Those who failed to get seated moved back to the comfort of these areas, to view proceedings on same digital screens.
Star Systems were right.
When signatures were counted it was obvious that the crowd exceeded even TV3’s ‘Tonight with Vincent Brown” show; same confirming some 612 bums were on seats for the 2016 political campaign launch by the Independent TD. Those I recognised as having attending had, braving the weather, travelled from Clonmel, Ballylooby, Bansha, Cahir, Ballyporeen, Carrig-on-Suir and Cashel in the South of the county. His previous loyal constituency of North Tipperary saw his supporters appear from Upperchurch, Kilcommon, Nenagh, Roscrea, Templemore etc.; with those fearful of travelling on the existing road conditions, flooding his office with emails, apologising for their absence.
Some 11 speakers addressed those assembled; discussing topics such as Sport, Education, Agriculture & Food, Special Education, Health, Youth Affairs & Old Age. From the floor came discussion from various sporting personnel and other supporters, including words of good wishes from the well known and much loved rural radio character and commentator Johnny Luby, who had spent the earlier part of the evening writing a poem especially to mark the occasion; supplied hereunder.
Michael Lowry – Tipperary’s Finest Son. A Poem by Johnny Luby ©
“I’ve wrote a few lines, it won’t take long, I’ve constructed a poem, for I can’t sing a song.
Its about wishing ‘Young Lowry’ the very best, as we know it’s going to be a tough test.
For years Lowry has represented Tipperary North, and they say up there he’s a very fine sort.
And now we welcome him in Tipperary South, we’ll be canvassing hard; he can have no doubt,
There are good contestants in his field, but to all of them we will not yield.
The Handicapper has given us top weight, but Lowry has two words for them – WORK RATE.
To take nothing for granted these days is true, but every vote is vital, that I tell you.
But if we can at all we’ll get No 1, for Michael Lowry – Tipperary’s finest son.”
Likewise, Johnny Luby was right.
The 5 piece band “Strings & Things,” struck up their contemporary Irish folk sound, as proceedings ended; with those attending slowly moving, together with Lowry, to where light refreshments of tea & coffee together with finger food and a chat were readily available and on offer.