THEY might be Independents of altogether different hues but Michael Kilcoyne and Frank Durcan were able to share the limelight in Day’s Hotel in Castlebar long before the first count was announced.
Both exceeded the quota on the first count with Kilcoyne getting nearly two quotas. If he had to be there until four in the morning, you couldn’t take the smile off his face.
It was a massive improvement on a substantial 2004 tally. He was amazed by the sheer volume of votes he picked up.
“Five years ago I headed the poll as well. I didn’t think I could improve on it but obviously the people out there think I’m worthy of their number one vote and I’m humbled and I suppose it’s a very emotional day for me in many ways.”
Nonetheless he would be absent for a few hours in the afternoon. Election triumph or not Kilcoyne was going away to run his weekly clinic on Thomas Street.
“There is no doubt that things like a clinic make a big difference,” he added. “I’m the only councillor in the area who has a clinic every Saturday. I’ll be doing my clinic today, same as ever. I’ll be leaving at 2 o’clock to go and do my clinic for a couple of hours. They’re my priority, my people. I have to look after them.”
As cliched as the line about ‘the people’ may sound, there is no doubt that Kilcoyne’s attitude is an earnest one.
“I take my instructions directly from the people and not from party headquarters. I feel they’ve employed me today to represent them for the next five years and I’ll continue to do that even if that sometimes means standing on my own.”
Kilcoyne’s huge personal vote meant he was the story of the Town Council election but he was closely followed by Fine Gael’s Noreen Heston.
As part of a six member team for FG, Heston was perceived by most observers as an also-ran but she stormed home, in fourth place after the first count. Elected, eventually, on the tenth count, the roar from her large band of supporters was possibly heard all the way back in her native Ballycroy.
And moments later Heston willingly admitted that she herself did not see such a performance coming.
“I am absolutely delighted and shocked,” she revealed, taking her shoes off after a long day on her feet.”
“I’m a first time candidate and I certainly didn’t predict taking a seat. Every canvass I did on the door was a very honest one and I basically said all I had to offer with me, myself, a hard working, honest person so I canvassed most doors in Castlebar, in fact all doors. In doing that I felt people were actually warming and opening up to me.
“This is a wonderful honour the people of Castlebar has bestowed on me tonight and I thank all of them.
“I made my Castlebar my home away from home in 2001. I’ve always worked behind the scenes. Out there, there would have been an element of the public who would have known me. Now Noreen Heston is in the public domain.”
It was only on waking up on Saturday morning that she began to realise that she was not only in line for a seat, but looked a cert.
“This morning when I woke up and turned on the radio and the first programme mentioned that I was third to Michael Kilcoyne and Frank Durcan, I certainly had to make a coffee then. I did think I was dreaming to be quite honest. I’m really humbled, I think the word is humbled and I feel so delighted and so humbled that the people of Castlebar have chosen me.”
“I’m a Ballycroy native as well. I did think that because I’m not from the town (that it would be a factor) but the Castlebar people have really embraced me and it is wonderful.”