Well, the first big launch and fundraiser has come and gone. Phew, is all I can say. I’m glad that’s behind me. Not that we didn’t end up having a fantastic night, but for a while beforehand I thought it might be a total catastrophe.
What’s the biggest fear when you organise something like this? That no-one will show up and you’re left looking like Paddy-No-Mates in the middle of an empty function room, with just your Mammy and a couple of friends there looking morto on your behalf.
Well, on the Thursday morning of the event that’s exactly how I felt. I’d had a load of people call/text/mail with very legitimate reason why they would would love to attend but wouldn’t be able to make it and I was beginning to think it might be damp squib instead of a night of fireworks – it was November 5th after all.
I was sitting in my friend Fionnuala’s kitchen table bemoaning my situation when I remembered to show her an email I had received from a 16 year old, Brid O’Donnell, whom I had never met. It was titled I HOPE YOU’RE HAVING A GOOD DAY and I won’t be exaggerating if I say that it’s the nicest email I’ve ever received bar none.
I’m going to post it (I asked Brid if it was okay to quote it) because it made such an impression on me that I’d like to share it.
“I want to send you some praise. I should probably point out that I’m sixteen years old, so sorry I can’t really vote for you come this Spring BUT if I could I would. Hopefully, my praise will help make up for that. I’m really impressed and inspired by the fact you’re running in the general election with no party or, as you said on your website, “no history of politicians in my family or close circle”. I would have similar aspirations to do what you’re doing, but even at sixteen, i’m not naive enough to believe that it’s easy to go up for election, especially with no political connections or as a woman. But you’re taking on the challenge and that’s amazing. I gives a lot of joy and confidence so i must thank you.
While reading this email, I’m actually listening to your interview on The Henhouse from a few days ago and a lot of what you’re saying I would completely agree with, it makes so much sense. I love the fact that you’re a feminist and I look forward to a more feminist agenda for the next Dáil #appealthe8th. I hope, when you’re my representative for Dun Laoghaire, you can help improve childcare but also father rights in our country. I hope that soon major reform will take place in the Dáil so that TDs can vote on what they (and their constituents) believe, rather than what their party tells them to vote for. I also completely agree with you on your view of Travelers, education is the key.
Though I would disagree with you on your view of Irish Water. Yes it was a big mess and the government dealt with it badly but getting rid of it would mean people losing their jobs. Also it would be a waste of all money the government has up to this point spent on it. Also I think cruise ships in Dun Laoghaire habour is a good idea. Of course, the tourists will be definitely be getting on buses and darts to go into town or down to Wicklow but there will be more foot traffic in Dun Laoghaire and i think that’s what Dun Laoghaire needs.”
By the way, I would love to get involved in your campaign. Unfortunately , I’m in fifth year and I’m in school, studying, nearly everyday until 9 at night! Pity me please! I’m studying for my Christmas exams and I’ve got a lot of things going such as debating and hockey and my poor mother doesn’t want me taking on anymore responsibilities. I’m sorry for the lousy excuse but hopefully I can get involved after Christmas or maybe sooner.
The one thing I really want you to take away from this email is that well, in the eyes of this idealist teenage girl, you seem awesome and super brave. It’s really inspiring to see women like you. I wish you all the best in your campaign and don’t forget to be awesome!”
Now, after I dried my tears, I realised that Brid – and girls like her – was the reason I was trying to get into politics and that I needed to contact her asap and tell her how much her email meant to me.
And so I did. And Brid and her Mum came to the fundraiser, and met all my friends and supporters, and Brid won a fabulous book – Wilde’s Women – written by local author Eleanor Fitzsimons, who was there and was delighted to sign it for her.
So it all ended well. Lots of people turned up. We raised cash for posters etc. Marian Keyes arrived with her gorgeous husband Tony and loads of goodies for prizes. Roisin Ingle raffled her fab book. Eamon Dunphy gave a great speech as did Shane Ross. I prepared a speech, went to my friend Breda’s to get it printed (my printer, as usual, being broken), lost it, found it again… and then didn’t bother referring to it at all because it just didn’t seem right so I just ad-libbed.
We drank (lots of ) wine and the wonderful staff in Cafe du Journal were fantastic!
So, many thanks to all who came, or donated gifts, or contributed in a myriad of other ways.
I am very grateful to you all. And there’ll be another fundraiser in December. But it will be a nice easy going pub quiz in my local pub the Wishing Well. All welcome of course. See you there!