County Councilors, Clampers and VisionariesEyebrows were arched recently in Clare with the publication of the expenses incurred by candidates in last June’s county council elections. The top spenders included Cllr Tony Mulqueen (FG), who spent €6,531, Cllr Michael Begley (Ind) €6,173, Eugene McNamara (Ind) €5,541, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) €5,830 and Cllr Brian Meaney (Greens) €5,180. Mr. McNamara, an Ennistymon publican, did not get elected, even though he ran a sleek campaign with snazzy suit, shiny car and Obamaesque posters. A total of 55 candidates went into the election battle and they included die-hard politicos, crackpots, local characters and a multi-millionaire.
Ironically, the multi-millionaire, Mr. JJ McCabe, only spent €2,390 on the campaign trail. It was his fifth time going for office and he was eliminated after the 1st count with 239 votes. The 73-year-old McCabe told the media he didn’t want to ‘buy’ the election and that he would never run for office again. He said:
“I have lost nothing. It is the electorate who have lost a man of great ability and skill.”
Fair enough, maybe he has a point.
Those in the know say that JJ’s actions made the gods laugh and they showered him with good karma: it seems gods don’t like clampers… The next caller to his house was a developer who wanted to buy his land. JJ said lovely hurling and asked for 20 million. He had bought the holding from Lord Inchiquin for £5,000 some years previously, when the aristocrat was stuck for cash. JJ settled for €18.8 million. It was the biggest land deal in Clare during the building boom and the developer was subsequently refused planning permission. The land will probably be Clare’s biggest NAMA asset. JJ bought a pad in the Algarve, and an estate in France that has a castle, a hotel and ten houses on the grounds.
Now that he didn’t become a councilor, Mr. McCabe spends more time on his estate in France, drops over to the Med when he needs a change of scene. From there he can read what the successful councilors are up to. If he tunes into the news from Ennis town council he’ll learn about the proposal to recruit ‘Urine Wardens’ to police the county town on weekends — a revenue generating scheme like parking tickets for pee-pee violators. He’ll probably conclude that he’s better off being far away from Clare politics and uncork a bottle of vintage plonk from his vineyard.
And if he’s keeping up with local religious affairs, he’ll see that the Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh (who he’d know from the hurling matches) has come out strongly against the recent apparition hysteria in Knock. According to Dublin ‘visionaries’ Joe Coleman and Keith Henderson, Our Lady will appear at Knock Shrine on December 5th next, at 3pm sharp. The bishop said,
“This sort of thing can bring religion into disrepute.”
While he would not normally discourage people from going to Knock, he thought they should stay away on that day. He continued,
“I would be unhappy about people dashing off to Knock just because the rumour goes out that there will be a vision. It has been proven time and time again that there is autosuggestion going on. For instance, like the moving statues — quite intelligent, normally sane people can believe they saw something. It’s like anything… if you look long enough at any object, you’re going to use your imagination and are liable to see something you hadn’t noticed before. If it is already suggested that this is a vision then you can in some way, unconsciously, convince yourself.”
But like it or lump it, thousands will ignore Bishop Walsh and all the other bishops and follow the visionaries to Knock for the Apparition. Our Lady was scheduled to appear there at Halloween, and an estimated 15,000 people came for the event. Some claim they saw The Virgin, others reported seeing the sun change colour and dance in the sky. Skeptics wonder if the holy water was spiked. Others blame the recession for the ‘visions’. The Bishop said, “That view has been expressed before but I don’t know whether this happens in times of depression.”
Ok, Bishop…but what if she does appear…and gives out the winning numbers for the Lotto on Dec 5th? Should we still do the quick-pick or listen to Our Lady? We wouldn’t mind having a châteaux in the South of France and be able to drop in to JJ for an evening of craic in castle. It can be wet and dreary around Clare in the depth of winter, especially when prayer falls on deaf ears.
Books by Eddie Stack