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Column Cardinal Rules (Part 27) - On the presidential campaign trail

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady recounts one eventful day on the campaign trail as Bridie Keegan pushes to become president.

THIS WEEK I was an objective observer on Bridie Keegan’s presidential campaign trail. Most of you will remember Bridie as the shy wholesome girl who sang in the 1965 National Song Contest Final. She did our nation proud and came second, albeit in controversial circumstances. I don’t want to defame anyone, but the fact remains that the Cavan jury were sent fairy cakes and extra lemonade by somebody.

Now read on.


Monday morning. The first day of campaigning. Everyone gathers in campaign headquarters in an industrial estate outside Bridie’s home town of Balbracken. Fr Lawlor has gathered together a crack team of priests, and has spent the last week watching the West Wing season 2 on DVD. He makes a speech and finishes with “Let Bridie be Bridie!” and punches the air.

We all tuck into tea and biscuits.


Bridie arrives with the help of her son Michael whose tax affairs are now normalised after that silly misunderstanding last year.  Bridie makes her own speech about renewing Catholic Ireland and giving “a voice back to the silent Catholic majority gagged by the voices of liberalism and sexual inconsequence.” “Incontinence,” shouts Fr Lawlor. “You leave my mammy’s medical problems out of this,” says an angry-looking Michael.


Tea and biscuits, during which peace is restored between Fr Lawlor and Michael.


Campaign roles are designated by Fr Lawlor. “I’ll be Toby Ziegler, Fr Daly will be Josh Lyman, Fr Farrell will be Sam Seaborne.” Fr Reilly has been sitting quietly in a corner “Can I be CJ Cregg?” he says eagerly.


News comes in that Ray D’Arcy is considering running for president. The news is delivered by Fr Reilly who has taken to winking and saying “Call me CJ”

Fr Lawlor ponders it for a moment. “Let’s walk and talk,” he says to Bridie.

Unfortunately neither he nor Bridie can walk and talk because (a) Bridie’s hips are giving her trouble, and (b) headquarters is a portacabin.

More tea and biscuits.


During a break someone shows me Rob Lowe’s Wikipedia entry. Fr Farrell is now no longer Sam Seaborne, and instead becomes Donna Moss. Fr Daly is delighted.


News comes in that Ray D’Arcy has pulled out of the race and that Keith Duffy has put his name forward, along with Dustin the Turkey, and Martin King.


A meet and greet in the town square. Bridie gives an impromptu rendition of her National Song Contest classic “Jesus loves you, always and forever.” There is great applause, and one wolf whistle from Fr Reilly.


Bridie’s brother Kevin arrives with his entourage. Apparently he is running for president also, as is his Uncle Peter, his brother Paul, and Big Joe Flanagan who used to run the sweet shop.

Kevin makes a speech. The crowd applauds.

Tensions are running a little high. Fr Lawlor whispers something to Bridie.


Bridie kisses her first baby. A big “Aaaw” from the crowd. Bridie is delighted. Fr Lawlor gives her the thumbs up. Kevin looks furious.


Disaster. The baby now has beard rash!


Chaos! “Get that baby out of here!” shouts Fr Lawlor. There is panic, jostling, lots of pushing. The baby is crying, and so is Fr Daly who has lost a contact lens. “We need to spin this. We need to control the news cycle. CJ! CJ!” shouts Fr Lawlor, but Fr Reilly can’t hear him because he is busy twirling his hair and giggling while chatting to a local builder.


A crushing mood of despondency back at headquarters. Bridie has withdrawn from the race. It is a sad day for what is left of Catholic Ireland, and to make matters worse we are all out of tea and biscuits.

“And I was going to wear a Donna Karan at the inauguration,” sobs Fr Reilly. Fr Lawlor attempts to comfort him. “Just let it all out, CJ” he says.

And he does.

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(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady