Redrawn boundaries leaves field wide open in Drogheda
'ALL changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born'. The Easter season seems pretty appropriate , as do the words from the WB Yeats classic on the 1916 Rising as men and women of south Louth's politicial world head into the trenches and a new world in the coming weeks.
There was a time when heading the poll in the Laurence Gate or West Gate wards was the one and only goal.
Over the next few weeks about 20 hopefuls will seek to earn votes from Ballypark to Marian Park, McCooey Terrace to Brownstown and all places in between in a vast catchment area.
The new Drogheda Municipal District has cast aside old political boundaries and the open fields will certainly test the resolve of those aiming to take the ten seats up for grabs come May 23.
Gone is the borough council or the 'corporation' as it's still called in many places. It will be missed, despite the bashing it sometimes takes.
Louth County Council will be taking a stranglehold on all things in many respects, so strong voices will be needed in south Louth around that County Hall table.
So who'll get elected?
Fine Gael have taken a 'top heavy' approach many feel.
They have five listed candidates: Mayor of Drogheda Richie Culhane, Michael O'Dowd, Oliver Tully, Kevin Callan and Garrett O'Dowd.
Four of the names will be familiar enough, but Garrett O'Dowd, son of Minister Fergus O'Dowd, was added to the ticket in recent weeks, sparking much debate.
It all points to a 'split vote' – but who'll come out the victors is anyone's guess. FG will be hoping for two seats at the very least, but some big names will be saying goodbye to their political careers - for the moment at least.
Sinn Fein made the other surprise calls. They are fielding three, Imelda Munster, Alan Cassidy and Kenneth Flood. The latter two are new to elections at this level.
Dom Wilton, Paddy McQuillan and Matt Coogan had been siting at local and county level but are not in the picture this time.
Many will see Imelda Munster as a future Dail candidate, standing in the south of the country, with party leader Gerry Adams in the north. Time will tell on that strategy.
Fianna Fail were looking like two candidates, Tommy Byrne and Frank Maher, until John Govern came into the picture in recent weeks. He's an engineer by profession.
Paul Bell and Pio Smith will be the Labour ticket, both feeling they stand a chance of making it, given their union and sporting pedigree.
Direct Democracy Ireland have gone with Ronan Mooney and Anthony Connor and would dearly love to see one of them get home.
Michael McKeon of the Green Party has contested before and knows the scene.
Frank Godfrey, as an independent, will always give a great account of himself when it comes to the ballot box and being well known the length and breath of the county will stand to him.
Ciaran McKenna is running for the Anti Austerity Alliance and given the success of Frank Gallagher on the socialist ticket last time out, they'll be keen to do well again.
Stephanie Valla Black runs for the People Before Profit group and others are also lining up to take on the task, Julie Feely, a great community campaigner and a few more destined to shake things up if they can.