When postman, Dermot Kelleher, retired on March 13th after 38 years of service, he had no way of knowing what would happen in the months ahead – least of all his candidacy for the role of president of Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA).
Dermot, who has also been farming for four decades at Carrignacurra, near Inchigeela, announced his intention to run for president at the end of October and has spent the last six weeks canvassing.
Because there are only 108 votes in the national executive, Dermot said he has confined his canvassing to Zoom. There were two hustings last week, plus one on Monday, December 7th, with the final husting taking place this Thursday, 10th. The count, and indeed the result, will be known on Thursday, December 17th.
Dermot and his wife Mary are very well-known throughout West Cork, especially in farming circles, and he currently holds the title of Munster vice-president of the ICSA.
A big party had been planned for Dermot’s retirement from An Post at Creedon’s Hotel in Inchigeela to celebrate his long years of service as a postman, but unfortunately, due to Covid-19, it had to be cancelled.
Dermot’s supporters are hoping that there may be a different reason to celebrate after the election results are announced next Thursday.
His supporters say Dermot’s popularity is due in no small way to the 25 years of sterling service he has given to the ICSA, but locally people credit him with going above and beyond the call of duty in his capacity as a postman. Throughout his 38 years of service, he has done all the things that postmen and women are doing during the pandemic.
Dermot has brought people their shopping, bottles of gas, the newspaper, anything that is needed, especially for those living in the most remote parts of his route in Sheehy Mountains.As a matter of routine, he would check on elderly men and women living alone to ensure that they were safe every morning.
He has even been known to throw off his coat, roll up his sleeves to help deliver lambs, calves, piglets – and even a foal – while on route.
Dermot took the time too to fill up forms for medical cards, and headage payments. In short, he would help anyone who needed assistance.
During the fodder crisis of 2012, he even drew loads of hay and straw bales from big farmers in the midlands to the farmers of West Cork to prevent their animals dying of starvation.
Dermot started his farming career in 1978 with 11 acres of arable land, but today his son, Christy, is running the family farm, which comprises over 80 acres.
Supporters say Dermot deserves to be president of the ICSA because he has always championed the cause of farmers and was instrumental in starting the Disadvantaged Farmers Legal Challenge in 2014.