After running into Gerry Adams in Sligo and having the unveiling of his supports for older people overshadowed by a group of people intent of doing away with old age altogether — namely Dublin criminals —Enda Kenny was in need of a nice, easy campaign stop.
Somewhere Fine Gael took two out of the three seats at the last election sounded promising. And so he came to be in Roscommon.
The only snag was that the people of Roscommon are still smarting from the loss of the emergency department at their local hospital since the last election — a move that has cost Fine Gael both sitting TDs, one through defection and one through retirement.
And they’re not best pleased with the prospect of losing a chunk of their county under a proposed land grab by neighbouring Westmeath.
So while he might be making the earth move for them — at least to the next county — would Enda feel any love from them?
Ballaghaderreen proved a good choice to stop the traffic. Not that there is much traffic since Enda opened the bypass 18 months ago.
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But it was home to former Fine Gael leader James Dillon of the proud Dillon political dynasty and with 1916 turning everyone into rampant history buffs, it was no harm to lean on the past a bit.
Certainly one of the Taoiseach’s welcoming committee was appreciative of a good history lesson.
Little William Caron’s great-great grandfather, also William, marched with General Eoin O’Duffy and while the three-year-old hadn’t quite grasped the significance of his ancestral tree, his dad David was shaking it with pride.
“Fifth generation Fine Gael,” he said, holding aloft his bemused son. “He has blue in his veins.”
But back to the present and that pesky problem with the missing emergency department. Possibly his words weren’t best chosen when Enda told the party faithful that the country was in ICU when Fianna Fáil left power. A cynic might have pointed out that at least there was an ICU then.
But outgoing TD Frank Feighan, whose reputation took such a battering locally after the closure that it almost needed admission to ICU, showed that while he was stepping down over the issue, he wasn’t going without a fight.
“Roscommon Hospital was never as busy, never as safe and it never had a future as bright as under this Fine Gael government and I’m sick and tired of the lies,” he said, rather diluting his claim that he’d had “great times” in the constituency.
Someone who’s now hoping to have great times is the party’s only candidate, Cllr Maura Hopkins, whose popularity in her home town of Ballaghaderreen is undoubted.
For a moment, Enda looked like all his dreams had come true when he thought he saw two of her, at first mistaking her campaign helper and doppelganger, Laura Mannion, for her sister, and then being happy just to imagine he could clone the woman he hopes will be the party’s star turn.
It was all going swimmingly and if it hadn’t been for the noisy man shouting generic abuses at him as he departed, it would have been perfect.
Still, there was only one more stop of the day and Ballyhaunis is in Mayo, otherwise known as Endaland.
There he dropped into the Bank of Ireland and chatted with staff about the increased loans and business credit activity he says they say they’ve seen.
Again it all looked very positive until taximan Joe Freeley brandished his home-made placard declaring ‘The West’s A Wake — RIP’ and loudly shared his experience of waving goodbye to four of his eight children who have emigrated.
Still, Fionnuala showed up, aka Mrs Enda, hands full of canvass cards and hugs for her hubby. You can’t be loved by all of the people all of the time, but sometimes all it takes is one.