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End of an era for those dynasties that became household names

The decimation of Fianna Fail in this historic general election marks the end of some the most famous and longest standing Fianna Fail political dynasties in Dail Eireann. Household names like Haughey, Coughlan, Ahern, and Kitt, which have been part and parcel of Irish politics for decades will now be absent from the 31st Dail.

Outgoing Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's likely election in the last seat in Dublin West has prevented the ending of a 55-family run in Leinster House, as his brother Conor and aunt Mary have lost their seats.

Such is the backlash against Fianna Fail, which has been in power since 1997, that Brian Lenihan is likely to be the only party member to win a seat in Dublin.

Conceding defeat ahead of the first count in Dublin South West yesterday, outgoing junior minister Conor Lenihan said it was unlikely Fianna Fail would hold even one seat.

"Unfortunately, we will lose both Fianna Fail seats here. The election was won and lost on national issues and no amount of work on the ground would have changed that. It's been a tough and difficult election, but the party should be able to come back from this," he said.

"Clearly the tide was out for Fianna Fail in Dublin and nationally. Some 15 per cent nationally is not a party that is going places in terms of forming a government, or maintaining seats in a constituency like this -- so really, whether I ended up in Dublin South or here, I decided to stay here with the people I know and love best and the people I have worked for, for 14 years. It didn't work out this time," he added.

Mary O'Rourke lost her seat, polling less than 3,000 first-preference votes. Tanaiste Mary Coughlan's demise in Donegal South-West marks the end of a 28-year political dynasty.

Ms Coughlan is the daughter of the late Cathal Coughlan, who served the Donegal South-West constituency between 1983 and 1986; and the niece of the late Clement Coughlan, who was a TD for the same constituency between 1980 and 1983 until his death.

The rejection by voters in Dublin North-Central of Sean Haughey, son of former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey and grandson of former Taoiseach Sean Lemass, marks the end of one of the most formidable political dynasties ever seen in Irish politics. His failure to be returned as a TD brings an end to the Haughey line, which dates back to 1957, and the Lemass line, which dates back to November 1924.

Another major casualty was likely to be Fianna Fail deputy leader and outgoing minister Mary Hanafin, who has paid the price for the party's decision to run two candidates in Dun Laoghaire.

Hanafin, elected as a poll topper on the first count in 2007, suffered a substantial collapse in her vote, receiving just 9 per cent of first preferences this time around. However a recount demanded by Labour's Ivana Bacik means that she still has an outside chance. The count begins this morning at 10.30am.

A Hanafin has been in Leinster House since Des Hanafin, Mary's father, first held a Senate seat in 1965.

The Andrews name is another long-standing political brand that will be absent from Leinster House as cousins Barry and Chris both lost their seats.

Outgoing Minister for Children Barry Andrews, polled just 6 per cent in the reduced four-seater Dun Laoghaire constituency; while Chris Andrews also polled poorly in Dublin South-East, ending an 80-year family run in the Dail.

Given Tom Kitt's decision not to stand in Dublin South, his sister and junior minister Aine Brady and brother Michael Kitt had to try and carry on the family line, which has been present in the Dail since their father's first election in 1948.

Ms Brady will not make it back but Mr Kitt, who has been in Leinster House since 1975 could yet hang on to take the last seat in Galway East.

Two other high-profile dynasties that have reached the end of the road are the McEllistrim and O'Donoghue lines. Both lost their seats in Kerry North and Kerry South.

And in a day of triumph for FG, the Barry dynasty in Cork South Central is, courtesy of a risky vote strategy, now believed to be in serious danger as Deirdre Clune battles for political survival.

Of course, another big family name will be absent from the 31st Dail -- that of Ahern. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern didn't stand, and neither did his brother, former junior minister Noel.

Sunday Independent