WHILE it’s been a quieter than normal year for Clonakilty mayor Padraig O’Reilly, he has still thoroughly enjoyed his term so far.
The envy of other towns across the country, Clonakilty made the decision, along with Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage, to have their own directly-elected community mayor, following the abolition of town councils in 2014.
Since then various locals including Clonakilty Blackpudding boss Colette Twomey and Fernhill House Hotel’s Michael O’Neill Jr, among others, have taken up the voluntary, honorary, non-statutory role.
As well as donning the mayoral robe and chain on occasions, Padraig is equally as comfortable putting on his firefighting gear in his role as volunteer fireman with Cork County Fire Services. And he works full-time with Dunnes Stores.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Padraig said it’s been a fantastic year so far.
‘I haven’t had many face-to-face opportunities to attend events. Normally the mayor would be attending anything up to between 80 to 100 events a year, I’d say I’ve only done about 15 due to Covid,’ said Padraig.
‘But I have done a lot of videos and promotions for different groups virtually, wishing them well.
‘You would think you know everything that’s happening in Clonakilty, but then as mayor you come across groups that I wouldn’t know their workings as such.’
Padraig had to isolate for 14 days before the mayoral handover last June while both the chain and robe were sanitised and put into bags.
‘In normal circumstances, the outgoing mayor would hand over the robe and chain to the incoming mayor, but due to Covid my parents, Ann and John, placed the robe on me and my daughter Leah handed me the mayoral chain, which was broadcast live on Facebook.’
As a voluntary fireman for the past 15 years, Padraig said his colleagues have been great when he needs cover for his mayoral duties.
‘Even though it’s a challenging job, it’s very rewarding too. I grew up with it, as my dad was there for 23 years and it was always something that I wanted to do.’
He is also looking forward to seeing the opening of the new fire station, estimated to cost €1.6m, which is earmarked for the town out on the western side of the Clonakilty bypass. It should be completed some time next year.
‘We have been quiet lately, but we would usually handle anything from 100 to 120 calls annually and the team at Dunnes Stores, where I have worked for 17 years, are very accommodating if I’m on call and the pager goes off.’
For now, Padraig will enjoy the final month of his term before he hands over the mayoral chains to incoming mayor Anthony McDermott.