Now that Gay Byrne has dropped out of the race for the Presidency, there is a groundswell of support emerging for another of Ireland’s favourite sons, Micheal O’Muircheartaigh.
The genial Kerryman refused to rule himself out of the running and is quoted in the ‘ Irish Independent’ as saying that he will decide on whether he should enter the race to become the next president of Ireland in the coming days.
“I haven’t ruled out anything but even at the dogs (greyhound track) last night I almost left with the number of people that were saying it to me,” he said yesterday. “I will give it a bit of consideration but it’s a major undertaking,” the 80-year-old added.
After withdrawing his own candidature came an an endorsement for the Kerry native from fellow broadcaster Gay Byrne . Mr Byrne said he would back O’ Muircheartaigh as a candidate since he is “probably the most popular man in Ireland”.
After watching Tipperary beat Dublin in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final with his daughter Doireann yesterday, Mr O’ Muircheartaigh said he will consider his options this week as he spends time with his family in Dun Sion, Dingle.
“I won’t spend too much time, usually when I give something a thought I make a decision (but) I have never been involved in a thing like this and it was never my intention,” he said.
He agreed that public view on whether he should run “could be a swaying factor”. “I’ve been among the people always, and I know a lot of people everywhere, and quite a few of them have been (encouraging).”
Despite appeals from more than one political party, he indicated that if he did decide to run, he would reluctant about doing so with party-political backing.
“I was never associated with politics and I stayed clear of politics. I’ve been broadcasting for over 62 years on the basis that all shades of political opinion are involved in all sports.”
O’Muircheartaigh has in fact had much media support over the past 12 months and has been encouraged to enter the race for the Aras by other media commentators too. Almost a year ago the Herald encouraged him to seek nomination with this endorsement then:
“As he announces his retirement (from GAA broadcasting duties), a plethora of genuine tributes are being paid to the man so well rounded in his life experience and full of worthy values and wisdom, that he would be an excellent President of Ireland.
This is about experience, values and depth, something we should demand in a President. He is a teacher and a listener. He has travelled the length and the breadth of the country to talk to people and listen to them, almost like it was his job or ministry. They are his friends. He loves the Irish language, loves sport with a passionate intensity that is exhilarating to all.
As a Kerryman, he would have the shrewdness needed for public office but also the gentleness of the true country gentleman who is also at home among city folk.
Public speaking wouldn’t be a problem; his voice is instantly recognisable and he can tell a story, using words to paint pictures and he was reaching out to the Diaspora long before Mary Robinson lit a candle in the window of the Aras.
He has other values too that are vital — a deep knowledge and respect for Irish history, a reference point for a society that feels cut adrift from modern institutions whether they be political, economical or religious.
He is a man who doesn’t drink but is comfortable among drinkers with his immense social skills and networking abilities. He represents what is best in the Christian tradition in Ireland but is not known for wearing it on his sleeve.
Micheal is intelligent and gentle of spirit. He has a wonderful wit and sense of fun and God knows we need to laugh in this country if we are going to make it at all.”