WHEN first-time councillor Holly Cairns initially announced her plans to run in the last local elections, she was laughed at.
And when she turned up at the count centre in Clonakilty last May, she said the feeling she got was ‘very much, get out of the way as you don’t have a hope.’
The Social Democrats councillor shared this, and more, in the first of her new podcast series called ‘Inside the Chamber.’
‘I had to Google how to tally when I arrived first,’ she admits. ‘But the highlight of my day was when the first box was opened, from Ballydehob, and I topped the poll.’
The 30-year-old pinpointed the 2018 presidential campaign as the moment she got engaged with wanting to make a change.
And she returned from Malta specifically to campaign in the marriage equality referendum.
‘I saw then that if you want to affect change you can, by knocking on doors and asking people to vote,’ she said.
The Social Democrats were the party that most align to her beliefs, she said: ‘Most people in Ireland are Social Democrats, they haven’t realised it yet, because it was never an option. There’s a presumption that in rural Ireland we’re conservative by default, but that’s not the case and it is a bit insulting.’
And she said once she took away the fear of losing, she knew she wouldn’t regret going for election, but she admitted she was initially laughed at.
‘That was disheartening. Being laughed at is difficult. I didn’t have a big party machine to support me and I didn’t attend funerals for votes. But on the whole the experience was a very enjoyable one.’
Holly’s election was a nail-biting one, involving several recounts as just one vote separated herself and Independent Finbarr Harrington to take the final seat in the Bantry electoral area.
She describes those counts as ‘all a bit of a blur’ and her eventual election almost ‘anti-climatic’ as she was so tired. In the podcast she also spoke of her initial days in the Council and the ‘horse trading’ that took place as the main parties courted her for her support.
‘I haggled hard and got some good offers. Fine Gael offered me a year as mayor but nobody elected me to go into groups with FF or FG, so I refused their offers, but it was a great insight to see how it all worked.’ Holly has recorded three episodes so far. You can find them on Soundcloud.com under the title ‘Inside the Chamber’.