Political pamplets preserved for posterity

JAMES JOYCE is going back to the National Library today but not as we know him. This time the National Library does not have to pay €12.5 million for the writer’s manuscripts like they did last year.

The James Joyce making his way back to the National Library today is a Galway county councillor whose canvassing card is among the 1,500 memorabilia from the last local and European Parliament elections.

These records of the 1999 elections will be presented to the National Library by the General Council of County Councils (GCCC) at a reception this evening. They were prompted to collect the manifestos, canvassing cards and leaflets from the 1999 elections when they saw the vast amount of literature that was being produced.

GCCC director Liam Kenny said they realised something needed to be done to secure it for posterity so they wrote to all candidates asking them for copies of their canvassing literature.

"This is an extraordinary record of the political culture in Ireland at the end of the 20th century," he said.

One of the most creative canvassing cards in the collection belongs to Kildare county councillor Paul Kelly.

He adapted the toucan bird that immortalised the Guinness is Good for You slogan to his own creative ends.

The headline on Paul Kelly's canvassing card read: A Pint of Plain Talking is Your Only Man! accompanied by a picture of the toucan carrying the slogan: Kelly is Good for You.

Some of the other more interesting cards belong to TDs who have since made frequent appearances at tribunals Liam Lawlor and Michael Lowry.

Lawlor's canvassing card asked for the number one vote and promised he would be: A Voice for Your Area Putting Your Interests First.

Former Fine Gael Minister Michael Lowry's canvassing card also asked for the number one and said he was part of a team that delivers. Liam Lawlor failed in his bid to get elected to South Dublin County Council but Michael Lowry was re-elected to Tipperary South Riding County Council.

The collection was presented to the National Library to safeguard material that tends to have a very short shelf life. The National Library was delighted to get it.

Director Brendan O'Donoghue said it is a fascinating resource for students of Irish political culture and will add to the library's extensive collection of Irish political ephemera.

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