Retracing the Steps of Greatness on The Crown Balcony

Retracing the steps of politicians of yore: Cllr. Charlie Farrelly (left) with: Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae, Cllr. Bobby O’Connell and Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald pictured on the balcony of The Crown Hotel on Saturday evening. ©Photograph: John Reidy

The worst thing about apparitions in Ireland is that they almost always occur in the most appalling weather conditions.

Take Knock some 140 years ago – one of Ireland’s most famous – the conditions were atrocious but the legacy endures.

The Fab Four

At The Crown Hotel here in Castleisland on Saturday evening after mass, the fab four recently elected Castleisland Local Electoral Area representatives: Cllr. Charlie Farrelly, Cllr. Jackie Healy Rae, Cllr Bobby O’Connell and Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald appeared together on the balcony of the history steeped building.

Highly Regarded

They were invited to do so by the management of the widely known and highly regarded Main Street establishment as a symbolic gesture and to follow in the footsteps of greatness itself.

For before them came: Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Éamonn de Valera and various government ministers in their times down through the years.

I remember seeing the actress, Biddy White Lennon on that balcony during a Castleisland Rás Tailteann stage stop at the height of The Riordans fame on RTÉ TV.

A More Positive Path

Back to the future: On Saturday evening the four men, with a lot of work to do to set the crumbling fortunes of Castleisland and its hinterland on a more positive path, stepped out on the balcony.

There were no promises made and no speeches delivered and there was no one below to hear them anyway.

So bad was the weather that the just released mass-goers kept on homeward bound with their coats and whatever outer garments they had drawn around them – and it on the very first day of June.

Handful of Supporters

A quick first count of the handful of supporters on the flags below left the Healy Rae camp with another clear victory.

But, just like on that occasion in Knock in 1879, the weather was also a factor in Castleisland on Saturday.

Will the legacy of The Crown apparition endure ? The five allotted years, the resolve of the community and the commitment of the four men involved will surely tell.

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