'I hope I'll do Anthony proud'
CLOUNMACON native Dianne Nolan (right) has been selected to take up the town council seat left in the sad passing of her Sinn Féin party colleague Anthony Curtin.
She will likely be the last person ever appointed to Listowel Town Council as all urban authorities are phased out at the local elections next year. But it is not this historic distinction that most provokes the feeling of honour she is currently experiencing.
That comes from being given the chance to carry on the work of Anthony Curtin, a man she knew since earliest childhood.
A daughter of Helen and Dan Nolan from Clounmacon, Dianne said she only wishes circumstances had been different.
"Anthony's passing came as a huge shock to all of us. His dedication and work for Listowel, Clounmacon and Sinn Féin can never be replaced," she said at the party convention at which she was selected in Listowel on Thursday night.
"While this is obviously a huge honour for me personally, and I thank the members of Sinn Féin for putting their faith in me, I do wish that the circumstances were different. I hope that I can do Anthony proud in my time on the council and the only promise I will make to the people of Listowel is to work as hard as I can for them."
Speaking to The Kerryman afterwards, Dianne said she knew Anthony a long time. "Even as a girl I used get collected for the school bus from Anthony's gate. He was a fantastic worker and is deeply missed by all of us."
Even though she has only a year, Dianne has no shortage of ideas as to how the town can be improved. With a degree in geography and archaeology, she has a keen interest in one area where Listowel stands head and shoulders above many other towns: heritage.
"Listowel is now one of three pilot historic towns and our heritage has to represent a huge area of growth for the town. We have so much here. I work as a tour guide at Listowel Castle so I am in regular contact with tourists and the one thing they are all blown away by is the appearance of our streets.
"Listowel is used as a stop-over town by many operators, but they come off the bus see two churches and a castle in a stunning Square. But what they rave about are the streets and how pretty they look with the unique plasterwork and the traditional shopfronts. One thing that is sadly a problem today are the numerous empty premises and these are something we should look at brightening immediately, even if we won't find businesses to occupy them overnight."
Another aspect of heritage the town is rich in, is its number of amateur historians and collectors. "We have some fantastic collectors, like Vincent Carmody and John Pierse, for example and it would be great to see their work supported in a meaningful way to bring it to a wider audience."
The ills of the recession are well catalogued, but among the worst for this young woman is the spectre of emigration.
"So many of my own age group went abroad to gain valuable work experience only to find themselves effectively stranded when the recession struck here. They have nothing to come back for and now so many younger people are joining them, at a frightening rate." It's an issue close to her heart she intends doing whatever she can in the coming year to alleviate.