Cowen on familiar turf at new bog centre
BRIAN Cowen ended his political career yesterday back where it all began, with a low-key opening of his local Clara Library and Bog Visitor Centre.
His brother, newly-elected TD Barry Cowen, and the inner circle of Offaly Fianna Fail gathered just after midday to witness the outgoing Taoiseach's last public duty.
There were no flags, bunting, music or fuss as the black Mercedes pulled up outside the Clara library.
It couldn't have been more different from Mr Cowen's homecoming in May 2008 when he was proudly paraded around the town with his wife, Mary, and two children.
A few seconds before his arrival, Shinrone councillor Peter Ormonde had joked the next reason for the media to descend on Offaly would be for Barack Obama's visit -- if he ever turns up in Moneygall.
There was just enough time for a blessing, a few brief speeches and some words from Mr Cowen before he was whisked away on a private tour of the €2m state-of-the-art library and bog visitor centre. As he addressed the small crowd outside the library, his words were drowned out a few times by passing traffic.
Bobby Kenny dropped by to see if Brian Cowen would sign a photograph of the two of them together.
Mr Kenny said he was around 10 years older than Mr Cowen and he grew up next door to him. "I remember him playing football in the yard."
He credits Brian Cowen with helping him find work abroad.
"I was going to America, working in telecommunications. Brian Cowen was Minister for Communications at the time and he wrote me a letter. I came here to thank him. He was always good to me," he said. "I feel very sad about what happened with Brian."