THERE were no protests, no dissenting voices and no negative incidents at the unveiling of the Charles Haughey commemorative sculpture on Dingle pier last Sunday. The Haughey family were warmly welcomed by the gathering of locals and visitors to the ceremony which was cocooned in the soft mist enveloping the harbour.
THERE were no protests, no dissenting voices and no negative incidents at the unveiling of the Charles Haughey commemorative sculpture on Dingle pier last Sunday.
The Haughey family were warmly welcomed by the gathering of locals and visitors to the ceremony which was cocooned in the soft mist enveloping the harbour.
The media were there in force, perhaps enticed by the rumour that the former taoiseach was going to make a surprise appearance. After all, he had been in the area only days earlier.
But he didn’t arrive and, according to his son Seán, he “was not able for the occasion at this time”.
Charles Haughey may not have been there but his spiritual presence was undeniably palpable throughout the event.
However, the media had plenty of photo, televisual and interview opportunities among the gathering, to satisfy their customers.
At the centre of the occasion was a commemorative stone and bronze sculpture, commissioned by local fishermen in recognition of their appreciation of the former taoiseach’s contribution to developing the port.
The stone had been covered in a blue tarpaulin overnight and the excellent life-like bronze image of Charles Haughey was inset early on Sunday morning. A bronze plaque was also fixed to the stone to mark the occasion.
The limestone block had been selected and prepared by Mike McTigue, from Clare, while the bronze artwork was executed by Dublin-based artist Nichola Kyle.
Fear a’ Tí Lorcán Ó Cinnéide welcomed the gathering and introduced the speakers. First up was Eddie Hutchison who spoke in Irish in praise of Mr Haughey and set the tone for the other speakers.
Former harbour board secretary Michael O’Sullivan gave a special welcome to Eimear, Ciarán, Conor and Seán Haughey and to their uncle, Fr Eoghan Haughey, brother of the former taoiseach.
“Mr Haughey was the great benefactor of Dingle, along with David Lean who immortalised Dingle, and I’m not exaggerating. Following a meeting with Mr Haughey at government buildings to discuss the harbour development plans years ago, he told Tom Fitzgerald to look after us on the return journey to Dingle. He said: ‘If the train is gone get them taxies. If there are no taxies get them helicopters.’ I’m sure that at that stage the poor man wanted to see the back of us!” Mr O’Sullivan told his audience.
Lorcán Ó Cinnéide spoke on behalf of the fishermen. He referred to a note written by Charles Haughey which, he said, is probably in an archive in the Department of Finance.
“That note said: ‘Anyone earning his living from a small boat three miles west of the Foze Rock (off the Blaskets) deserves a medal and not a conviction.’ We wouldn’t mind having him back here again with the way the fishing industry is going now,” Mr Ó Cinnéide stated.
“We, in the fishing community, are content that when the history of our times is written it will be known that in fair weather or foul we set our own course, nailed our colours to the mast, stood up and were counted,” he declared.
Seán Haughey spoke on behalf of the Haughey family. He thanked the fisherman and all involved in the tribute and read a message of appreciation and gratitude from his father.
The stone was then unveiled by Micheál Ó Catháin and retired fisherman Paddy Flannery.
The harbour board chairman Tom Fitzgerald, addressed the gathering and managed to control his underlying emotions which threatened to surface during his speech.
“I’m truly deeply saddened Charlie can’t be with us today but I will be communicating to him the many expressions of goodwill from people here who want to wish him a speedy recovery. Some people can’t understand the friendship and loyalty that exists between the people of Dingle and Charlie Haughey and his family,” he said.
Parish priest monsignor Padraig Ó Fiannachta ended the ceremony with a rousing address in Irish before he and F r Eoghan Haughey blessed the sculpture.