Beleaguered Taoiseach finds some home comfort
BRIAN Cowen was propelled into national politics at the age of 24 following his father Ber's untimely death in 1984.
And it was the weekend of his revered father's 27th anniversary that he finally decided to call time on his turbulent reign as leader of Fianna Fail.
Mr Cowen was back in his native Co Offaly yesterday as he faced renewed questions about his own political future.
But close friends insisted there would be no wake in his hometown.
Mr Cowen was in Clara with his wife Mary and daughters Sinead and Maedhbh yesterday for his late father's anniversary Mass.
"It just so happened that was lining up this morning, it's more for that I came home this morning," Mr Cowen said.
He was greeted with beeps, cheers and good-natured comments in Clara before he left to watch Offaly side Rhode play Kilmacud Crokes in Portlaoise.
A lifelong friend of Mr Cowen, Ricey Scully, said local people would remain loyal to Mr Cowen, no matter what was playing out on the national stage.
"We are not sad about it. Why would we be sad? Brian Cowen is still Brian Cowen, a young lad from the town here. We are always very proud of him.
"It's not sad because he has been there for 28 years now. He is after giving his whole life to it," Mr Scully said.
"He's in great form, it's like a weight was lifted off him -- that's the only way I can describe it. No one will turn their backs on him here in Clara," he added.
But just seven miles away in Tullamore, where Mr Cowen lives with his family, there was some criticism of their chieftain's performance.
"It's quite absurd isn't it, two leaders . . . he should just resign, just resign and have done with it, too much has gone wrong, far too much, that's my honest opinion," John Bracken said.
Deirdre Gallagher said she thought Mr Cowen's loyalty brought about his downfall.
"I feel that Cowen has always been loyal to the likes of Bertie; he has never bad-mouthed anybody in Fianna Fail. I wouldn't have the same faith in what's left there," she said.
Carmel Bracken insisted Mr Cowen had not been treated fairly by the national media.
"The papers portray him as a Biffo. A Biffo to me is a Bright, Intelligent Fellow From Offaly and that's what Brian is and I wish him the best of luck," she said.