Canvassing is a Labour of love for Ciara Conway in Cappoquin

If Ciara Conway spends as much time on every prospective voter as she does on Ger and Eileen Mason in Cappoquin, she’ll still be canvassing when the election is long over and done.
Canvassing is a Labour of love for Ciara Conway in Cappoquin

Still, it seems to be time well spent.

“What would you be doing just now around here,” a suspicious-looking Eileen asks her when the Labour TD and her team stop the Masons while out for their morning constitutional.

“I wouldn’t vote Labour,” Mrs Mason continues. “I voted for you and gave you the number one the last time… I have lost confidence in Labour. There’s nothing happening.”

“I think that’s unfair,” one of the canvassers, Cllr John Pratt from nearby Tallow, counters.

“It’s not unfair. I swore the last time I wouldn’t vote but I went in and gave you number one because you’re local. Labour have done nothing over the years.”

About 10 minutes later, after hearing the party’s case for some time, Mrs Mason mellows somewhat: “I will give you a vote but it won’t be a number one. I don’t want to see your man in again, the Fine Gael man, Enda Kenny.”

Ciara Conway and Eileen Mason shake on their “deal” and its onwards to the Shanbally Upper estate in glorious spring sunshine which shows off the picturesque village and the Blackwater Valley in all their beauty.

Paddy Reddy is another who’s not convinced.

“Ye didn’t do a great job for me anyway,” he says, smiling from his doorway. “I got €3 on the pension. You gave us water rates and household charge and you put up the tablets [prescription costs] as well.”

He too relents. “I know you’re doing a good job on the country alright because it was gone arseways.”

“That’s the thing,” replies Deputy Conway, who admits she is in a battle for the fourth and final seat in the Waterford constituency, probably with Fianna Fáil and a second Fine Gaeler.

“You have to get the big things right before the small things. We’re committed to increasing the pension.”

Paddy says he was over in Brighton two months ago to see his grandson, Jason Molumphy, play football with that club, “he was reared here,” and adds before the canvassers leave that his vote could be in play: “You’re not written off yet.”

Ciara Conway’s grandparents hailed from Cappoquin while she herself grew up in Tramore, moved to Dungarvan and went to school in Waterford city.

“I know the Conways all my life,” Noel Mason says when told of her connection to the area. “I didn’t see [grandfather] Joe in years… I was often wondering were you anything to any of the Conways.”

It’s not all sweetness and light here, though. “I’m fed up of the whole thing, to be honest,” Noel confides. “I followed Fianna Fáil all my life. My family were huge Fianna Fáil [supporters]. I think if my parents came back they’d shoot Fianna Fáil.” He doesn’t know if he’ll even vote on February 26.

“Your number one could make all the difference,” Conway pleads. “I’ll have to ring granddad and tell him to give you a ring.”

Further down the road, Mary Cahill warns the candidate and her canvassers to “be careful now” as she’s just painted the plant pots outside her house. “I don’t want to get sued by a politician.”

Declaring she’s made up her mind, she then says “You got it here the last time, that’s giving you a hint.” Callers have to be wary of her dog, too, Mary says.

“It’s trained to kill if it’s the wrong party.” “We’ll let you know when the other crowd are coming so,” is Deputy Conway’s farewell.

All’s fair…

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