Saturday 22 July 2017

Mayo hearts burn with pride as Kenny returns home in triumph

Tom Shiel in Castlebar

A burning desire by Enda Kenny's Mayo supporters last night to celebrate his homecoming as Taoiseach with a series of giant bonfires was doused on Mr Kenny's express wishes.

However, neighbours of Mr Kenny at the fashionable Hawthorn Avenue, Milebush, on the outskirts of Castlebar, got a special dispensation to build and light a modest fire in honour of the momentous occasion.

Thrown in for good measure were two Chinese lanterns that lifted off into the evening sky over Castlebar to loud applause from Mr Kenny and his family and about 60 local residents.

Standing about three-feet tall and comprised of damp logs collected mostly by local youngsters, it was hardly a vanity bonfire.

But the new Taoiseach, accompanied by his wife, Fionnuala, daughter Aoibhinn, 18, and sons Ferdia, 16, and Naoise, 14, appeared delighted by the "surprise" as sparks soared into a darkening sky almost on their doorstep.

Afterwards, the entire group adjourned to the warm confines of the local O Morain household for refreshments.

As young and old gathered in the narrow cul de sac, which is home to about 15 families, neighbour, Frank Murray described Mr Kenny as "a good neighbour" and "a steady influence" in the area.

"We will miss the fact that Enda is going to be busy and away so much," Mr Murray said.

Mr Kenny assured his neighbours that his family had no intention of leaving the area. "We're staying put," he said emphatically.

Then, referring to the 24-hour garda security which will be around his home from now onwards, Mr Kenny joked: "The members of the blue brigade on the road will see you are all well protected from now onwards -- so get your driving licences and insurance."

Later, the Taoiseach -- who had flown to Knock Airport from Brussels on the government jet -- addressed over 2,000 followers at a 'welcome home' celebration in the Royal TF hotel and theatre.

He was joined by the other successful Fine Gael candidates in Mayo -- Michael Ring, Michelle Mulherin and John O'Mahony.

MEP Jim Higgins described the new Taoiseach as a "real messiah" for both Fine Gael and Ireland.

"I have no doubt he will do the business in terms of renegotiating the bailout," Mr Higgins stated.

Mr Kenny spent yesterday with his family and during the course of the day he went to visit his mother Eithne, 92, who is resident in a local nursing home.

Afterwards, Mr Kenny said his mother had been delighted to watch Wednesday's Leinster House proceedings on television.

"Her mind is very intact," he said. "She is fully with us in that sense."

Mr Kenny, who will fly out to Washington for St Patrick's Day celebrations later in the week, said he hoped President Obama would visit Ireland this year.

Asked if he was optimistic that Mr Obama would visit, Mr. Kenny replied: "We'll have a much clearer picture during the week."

Both Mayo County Council and Castlebar Town Council are to accord the new Taoiseach civic receptions later in the year.

The date of both functions have yet to be decided.

Sunday Independent

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