There is no place like West Cork

As his time as Mayor of Clonakilty comes to an end, Michael O’Neill Jnr reflects on the past year and the realisation that there is no place like home, especially when that home is West Cork.

Clonakilty Mayor Michael O’Neill (left) at The Clonakilty Street Carnival 2019.

Well here it is, the final month of my term as Mayor has arrived. I have been reflecting on my mayorship and while Covid 19 has been a huge struggle for us all, it cannot take away from the defining impression of my year as mayor. I now know beyond any doubt that we live in one of the most special places on earth. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and the office of Mayor itself, for giving me a front row seat to see how lucky we all are to call this wonderful place our home.

I realise that after you have read the somewhat outlandish statement that I have just made you might be thinking that I have lost the run of myself and maybe the ‘power’ has gone to my head. However I was fortunate enough to visit every continent when I was younger and now my time as Mayor has afforded me a unique insight into our community. So, without further ado, here are the ingredients that I believe put us on top.

Firstly, it is our simply magical location. As Mayor, I was uptown and downtown, up country hills, down by the sea and all over the area. We live in a stunning part of the world. With the Covid lockdown we are limited to 5km and it has given us the time to appreciate our beautiful coastline, countryside and town. It is fantastic now so just imagine how great it will be when our pubs, restaurants and businesses open again soon!

Secondly, it is our renowned volunteer spirit. You are some crowd for organising things! On many days, I was flying from one place to the next, as there were so many fun and amazing events to attend. People from other areas often said to me over the year how unique and special our volunteer spirit is. We have to cherish and nurture it, as it is precious. Volunteer and support our volunteers!

Finally, on this grand tour of how great we are, I have saved the best until to last. You, our people, are the main reason why we live in such a wonderful place. I have met thousands of people over my year as Mayor and of course over the years growing up here. There is simply no one better for craic, friendship and support. You made it an immense pleasure and a privilege to serve as Mayor. Thank you!

So that’s it from me. I am the fourth Fernhill O’Neill over four generations to serve as Mayor, so it was great to be able to carry on that tradition at a time when we are all looking to the future. This Covid crisis has made our community suffer and there is a great deal of uncertainty but take heart. What we have here is special; it will give us strength and will help us to get through this! So keep on volunteering, doing the right things, shopping locally and minding each other. You are amazing, we are an amazing community and we will do amazing things together to get through this.

Sláinte agus go raibh mile maith agat.

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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