ELECTION FEVER: Sixty four years ago this week the Irish electorate were caught up in a welter of excitement as voters visited their polling station to cast their votes in the country’s general election. The Fianna Fail party led by Eamon de Valera had completed sixteen years in office having been first elected to power in 1932 and returned to office in the general election of 1933 1938 and 1943 and 1944. But shrewd political commentators confidently predicted that a change of government was imminent. They based their prediction of the widely held belief that the recently founded Clann na Poblachta party led by Sean McBride were sweeping the country and receiving massive support in all constituencies. In Ballinagh and surrounding districts there was enormous interest in the campaign mainly due to the fact that three candidates whose names would be on the ballad paper were regarded as local. Outgoing Cavan Fianna Fail Deputy Michael Sheridan - a native of Drumcrow had served the constituency for all of sixteen years having been first elected in 1932. Patrick O’Reilly from Castlepoles representing the Cavan farmers party who was contesting his first election and captain Peader Cowan Solr representing Clann na Poblachta and seeking a seat in a Dublin constituency. The campaign which lasted all of six weeks is generally regarded as the most fiercely contested in the history of the state. Election rallys were held every night in all towns and villages with large gatherings assembled at all venues to hear the candidates of all parties speak. After Mass meeting on Sunday mornings outside churches were fully availed of by candidates. On occasion town candidates of opposing parties would arrive to a church and this could lead to heated exchanges between the speakers with each endeavouring to ‘speak first’. Monthly fairs were held in the majority of towns and villages and here farmers would offer livestock (cattle horses sheep and pigs) for sale and political parts availed of this opportunity to address the agricultural sector. In those days heckling of speakers ad shouting abusive comments often led to ugly scenes among rival supporters. The efforts to secure the very last votes continued up to polling day on Wednesday February 4th with polling stations open from 9am to 9pm. On Thursday morning Cavan courthouse the court centre for the Cavan constituency was a hive of activity as the checking of ballot boxes under the supervision of the returning officer Mr John P Dowd and his staff got under way. Throughout the day there were rumours and counter rumours of candidates ‘doing well’ and of others in difficulty.The approach of midnight saw final results announced in Cavan with the four successful candidates Patrick Smith FF outgoing minister for agriculture Sean Tully (Clann na Pobblachta) Michael Sheridan (FF) and Patrick O’Reilly (Cavan Farmers party). In Ballinagh there were scenes of jubilation and a massive bonfire as news filtered through that the three candidates already described as local had all been elected the 13th Dail. It was the early hours of Sunday before final counts were completed when the new Dail assembled on Wednesdays 18th February the change predicted became a reality as Fine Gael Deputy John A Costelloe was elected Taoiseach with the Labour party leader and Deputy for Carlow Kildare Wiliam Norton named Tanaiste and Minster for Social Welfare. The Cavan constituency did not have a voice at the cabinet table but deputies from our two neighbouring constituencies received ministerial appointments. General Sean MacEoin the legendary blacksmith of Ballinalee and Fine Gael Deputy for Longford Westmeath was named Minister for Justice and Independent Deputy and poll topper in Monaghan James M Dillon appointed Minister for Agriculture. And so the curtain came down on what is generally regarded as the most hard fought general election in the history of Irish Free State
Christmas lights winners of 200 club draw: Jamie Mullen 25 euro; Fiachra Beady 25 euro; Collette Timoney 25 euro; Barney Brady 25 euro; Linda & Terry Hyland 500 euro; Charlie Fleming 50 euro; Seamus and Jackie McdDermmott 25 euro; Nicole Brady 50 euro; Helena & Killian Brady 25 euro.
Meeting: Ballinagh ladies tug of war. Meeting mon at 8 o’clock. All welcome. New members welcome.
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