'It’s so wonderful that people were able to make it out here today': Micheál Martin praises community as he returns to Cork as Taoiseach 

'It’s so wonderful that people were able to make it out here today': Micheál Martin praises community as he returns to Cork as Taoiseach 
An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, T.D., with his wife Mary on his return home to Ballinlough in Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

NEWLY-appointed Taoiseach Micheál Martin was greeted by emotional scenes in Ballinlough today as he arrived home to a hero’s welcome.

Neighbours, friends, and family lined the streets to pay tribute to the second Taoiseach from Cork. Bunting and balloons added a splash of colour to the event, which included a rousing rendition of The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee.

A socially distanced greeting for An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, T.D., as he arrived back to Ballinlough in Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.
A socially distanced greeting for An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, T.D., as he arrived back to Ballinlough in Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

There to meet him at the end of a long guard of honour was the politician’s wife, Mary, and children Micheál Aodh, Aoibhe and Cillian.

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, T.D., with his wife Mary and family Micheál Aodh, Aoibhe and Cillian on his return home to Ballinlough in Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.
An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, T.D., with his wife Mary and family Micheál Aodh, Aoibhe and Cillian on his return home to Ballinlough in Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

Speaking to The Echo, a thrilled Micheál Martin paid tribute to the man who inspired him as a little boy growing up in Turners Cross.

“Jack Lynch was a hero in our household,” he said. “He won six all-Irelands in a row, then he became Taoiseach. Nobody will ever surpass Jack Lynch but he will always have a special place in Cork people’s hearts.”

He vowed not to let the position change him.

“I’ve been living here for 30 years,” he said. “I’ll do the same things I always did even though I’ve been told there will be a security dimension to them now.

“One of my favourite things is walking, and I’ll still be taking trips to the local supermarket as much as I can.

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, T.D., with the family dog, Setanta, on his return home to Ballinlough in Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.
An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, T.D., with the family dog, Setanta, on his return home to Ballinlough in Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

“I’m also looking forward to the championship when it returns after Covid-19.”

He acknowledged those who lost their lives during the pandemic.

New Taoiseach Micheal Martin arrrives home in CorkPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
New Taoiseach Micheal Martin arrrives home in CorkPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

“It’s difficult not to be able to shake hands with our very good friends who came out today,” he said. “Covid-19 has changed everything. Many families have lost loved ones and, in many ways, this is a new reality. Some of those who passed on would have canvassed for me in bygone years making this poignant.

“It’s so wonderful that people were able to make it out here today, even though they were sad in many ways about loved ones passing.”

As a boy, the politician never believed he would grow up to be Taoiseach.

“My main aim was to become a history teacher and that’s what I became,” he said. “However, current affairs always interested me.”

Mr Martin acknowledged the difficult days ahead

 “It’s lovely to get that respite today but one is always conscious of the challenges that lie ahead,” he said.

The politician offered some sage advice for young people in Cork hoping to follow in his footsteps.

“Enjoy your time in school, do what you love, and work to realise your potential.

“Always look out for others and work as a team. You are part of a community and should always remember that.”

Meanwhile, next-door neighbour Jim McSweeney was delighted to be able to join An Taoiseach and his family in celebration.

“They live a quiet life,” he said of the family. “We have good neighbours and, while we gave each other space, we are always there for one another. I don’t think our lives will change that much now that Micheal’s Taoiseach. He was always a little famous “

Thomas Cregan, who runs fast food outlet Denny’s in the area, said he wasn’t just proud for Cork, but proud for An Taoiseach personally too.

Mr Cregan joked that he was looking forward to a visit in the coming weeks.

“A Cork Taoiseach always loved his fish and chips,” he laughed.

Friend of the family, Colette Lehane, was just as thrilled for the Martin family.

“The last time I saw Micheál I told him we’re still waiting on our Cork Taoiseach. Now, that day is finally here,” she said.

Anthony Buckley from Gardiner’s Hill who is friends with An Taoiseach also made it to the event.

“I knew Jack Lynch and he was a good man too. Micheál is a man who knows what he’s doing.”

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