EVEN in the heart of Cowen country the omens were not good yesterday.
Few were willing to offer a view on the disastrous start to the new year for the Taoiseach, with even hardened Cowen supporters more inclined to hold their silence in the face of the uneasy détente emerging from the party meeting rooms in Leinster House.
There was a respectful "thanks but no thanks" response to a request for reaction at the Tap Bar in Tullamore, a favoured watering hole of the Taoiseach.
At the Town Council offices, his constituency secretary and council member Sinead Dooley was understandably more concerned with budgetary business at a special council meeting than dealing with media speculation.
"You have a lot of nervous TDs out there at the moment and I suppose we are getting imminently closer to a general election," she said.
"I think there are a lot of people who are looking for cover. A lot of people are concentrating on their own positions and their own seats at the moment.
"I personally would like to see them focusing more on the national interest and, from my perspective, on the future of Fianna Fail.
"For a leader of a country -- and leader of a country that is going through the most difficult economic period in the history of our State -- it is certainly frustrating for him for even a fraction of a day to have to park his workload to one side to deal yet again with speculation about his ability to carry out his duties", Cllr Dooley said.
On the streets there was no doubting the likeability factor that surrounds Mr Cowen.
"I'd be awful sorry to see him go. He's a great man and has a lovely family. We'll miss him at the top", said Marie Galvin.
No such niceties were being observed by the presumably younger voters across Offaly as Midlands Radio canvassed views on its Facebook page.
The station asked if listeners would be more inclined to vote for Fianna Fail if Brian Cowen decided to resign in the coming days.
"I would never trust another word from Brian Cowen. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I'd be more inclined to vote for the individual, regardless of the party, if Cowen wasn't leader. But with him at the wheel, I will not vote for Fianna Fail," wrote Alix Langridge.