Miriam Lord: Party time for older Soldiers of Destiny

Micheál Martin absent as Mary Coughlan celebrates 50th with former colleagues

Former tánaiste and minister for education  Mary Coughlan and former taoiseach Brian Cowen. Photograph: Eric Luke

Former tánaiste and minister for education Mary Coughlan and former taoiseach Brian Cowen. Photograph: Eric Luke


The Soldiers of Destiny are out in force today for their ardfheis in the RDS.

They will have a lot to say about the IBRC controversy causing ructions in Government circles and beyond.

Leader Micheál Martin talked about little else all week.

So he’ll be interested to know that when Fianna Fáil’s finest are fulminating at the microphone – Micheál delivers his keynote address tonight, the platform supporting all of them has been supplied by none other than . . . Siteserv.

Isn’t it a great little country all the same?

Actually, this weekend’s jamboree is Fianna Fáil’s second big gathering of the clan to take place this month.

The first happened two weeks ago in Donegal when former Fianna Fáil minister Mary Coughlan threw a huge bash to celebrate her 50th birthday.

About 300 guests joined her for dinner in the five-star Solís Lough Eske Castle Hotel. We hear the proverbial great night was had by all.

The event was like a reunion party for members of the last government, with former taoiseach Brian Cowen heading the cast of ex-cabinet ministers who came along to toast their colleague’s half- century.

They included Mary Hanafin – now a county councillor but with her eyes firmly set on a return to national politics – Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey, Mary Harney and Brendan Smith.

Éamon Ó Cuív, who, along with Smith, is one of the few survivors of that doomed cabinet, was reportedly out of the country. And Willie O’Dea, still very much active in the Dáil, wasn’t present either.

What of Micheál Martin, another veteran of that government?

No sign of him but no surprise there.

The party’s sole Donegal representative in the Dáil, Charlie McConalogue, attended while Mary’s long-time constituency colleague, Fine Gael’s Dinny McGinley, appeared to be the only former opposition politician on the guest list.

There was beef and salmon on the menu and plenty of wine. Dinner was followed by music and dancing. There were no speeches, save for a very brief thank you from the birthday girl to her family, friends and supporters from down through the years. Brian Cowen made a very brief reply on behalf of the guests.

He said it was a great night and he was delighted to see everyone looking so well, not least their host.

Mary told her guests in advance that she didn’t want any gifts. Instead, a box was placed inside the door and those who may have wanted to bring a present were invited to make a donation to the local chapter of the St Vincent de Paul.

We hear some of the party adjourned to the bar for a sing- song and “raised the rafters” until well into the wee small hours.

We don’t know who sang, but at least one of the guests can carry a good tune . . .


No big deal as Seán Sherlock proposes to ‘Gaeltacht woman’

Congratulations to Minister of State Seán Sherlock, who got engaged this week to “a good Gaeltacht woman”.

The Labour TD for Cork East doesn’t want any fuss.

“It’s no big deal, sure we’ve been going out for years,” says 42-year-old Seán, who is marrying Galway-based college lecturer Máire (that’s all he’d tell us) from the village of Ballingeary in west Cork.

From the sounds of it, it was a traditionally Irish marriage proposal. “I didn’t quite pop the question – it just happened,” says Seán.

The couple will marry in August in St Finbarr’s Oratory in Gougane Barra.

Meanwhile, more congratulations are in order.

The Taoiseach celebrated his 64th birthday yesterday.

An enterprising PR executive managed to turn Enda’s milestone into an opportunity to plug a conference that opened in Dublin’s Convention Centre on Thursday.

His press release began: “The CIÉ Male Voice Choir sang the Beatles’ song When I’m 64 to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny this morning at the International Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology conference at the National Convention Centre in Dublin.

“The Taoiseach turns 64 tomorrow. Opening the conference, Mr Kenny told over 1,200 international delegates that Ireland is now the global hub for manufacturing artificial hips and other medical devices as well as being the European centre for nine to the top 10 pharmaceutical companies . . .”

Full marks for effort and we hope all the members of the association have a great time in Dublin.

And before we forget, it’s a very big happy birthday to Eamon Gilmore, who shares a birthday with the Taoiseach.

Eamon was 60 yesterday.

No doubt there’ll be a bit of a party, but not of Mary Coughlan proportions.


Gerry Adams for early-bird cúpla focail

Irish-speakers of the clubable sort, who also happen to be early risers, are in for a May Day treat.

Uachtarán Shinn Féin, Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh (for the Bearlóirí that’s Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams to the) will address a gathering in the first official language at the Hibernian Club on Stephen’s Green. But don’t go mobbing the place: the event is by invitation only and, anyway, his remarks will be off the record.

For a mere €25 the early- bird Irish-speakers will be able to hear the Louth TD pronouncing on the political scene and the outlook. “Bricfeasta na hAoine” (“The Friday Breakfast”) starts at 7.45am and finishes at 9am.

The organisers host a different speaker every month or so to give business and professional people an opportunity to network in the Gael’s kingly tongue.

Gerry’s grasp of Irish has come in for some criticism over the years but the man is nothing if not persistent. His Gaeilge has definitely improved, say observers. As he speaks in the Ulster dialect, his musings may be a little difficult to comprehend for those executive types in the audience with Connemara or Munster Irish.

Nevertheless they are bound to get the gist of what he is saying: any references to the leaders of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour will be less than flattering, especially Micheál Martin.


Renua runs out of voice after tight race

Cork Senator Paul Bradford could barely talk when we spoke to him yesterday. Sounded terrible.

He insisted it was laryngitis.

And nothing to do with his horse winning the mares’ bumper over the flat in Wexford on Tuesday. The Liz Doyle-trained Tigroney pipped Miss Dinamic at the post to win the €6,900 first prize. Paul was ecstatic.

“My little mare, she won by the shortest of short heads and we then had a long wait for the photo finish. Myself and the local postman, Pat Greene, bred her in Cork.”

Bradford, who is married to Lucinda Creighton and is one of the founding members of Renua, says the horse is named after the Wicklow townland where his late father grew up.

As he can hardly croak out a few words, it’ll be a while before Paul will be doing church gate speeches for Patrick McKee, Renua’s candidate in the Carlow-Kilkenny byelection.

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