On Friday, after driving his tractor to Ballinalee to collect his pension, 93-year-old Matt O’Hara then got a lift to Clontumpher NS to vote in his 25th general election
“I voted for Bannon,” he candidly told the Leader. “You need a change. I’d be glad if they (Fine Gael) got an overall majority.”
A life-long supporter of Fine Gael, Mr O’Hara said emigration and the lack of jobs had left large swathes of his local area and native Kiltyclough townland in desperate need of fresh ideas and direction.
“Of course I am an old age pensioner but a lot of youngsters are getting a raw deal these days,” he continued. “I could count about 20 or 30 of them around Ballinalee and Ballinamuck who have gone to either Australia or Canada. I would like to see Fine Gael get a shot at government, though it is not going to be easy for any of them.”
Mr O’Hara recalled casting his first vote, at the start of Fianna Fail’s 16-year-rule in 1932 under Eamon de Valera and at the onset of the ‘Economic War’ with Britain.
“I can remember it so well,” he stated. “We had seven or eight good calves at the time and we got only about £5 for them at the time. That was a very, very bad price. Then you had all the trouble with de Valera which raised the rents.”
And if he thought today’s difficulties were of a far greater magnitude than the post-war years, the retired farmer smiled: “Ah, I don’t think so, but that’s just my opinion.”