All human life: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Colm Murray and Ernie Keenan when he was most needed!

Pauline Scott’s count diary  10.30 am On my way to the count, expecting long days and nights ahead. Try to call Paul Hickey for some early tallies, but there’s no answer (‘quelle surprise’ as Hickey would say in his best French/Gamehill accent). Park across the road from the Hyde, anticipated huge crowd not there. 11 am Meet an ashen-faced Jill Mellor (former Roscommon Champion staff, now works with Denis Naughten). Tally results not boding well for Denis Naughten, even though the powers-that-be (Laurence Fallon et al) are confident that he’ll pull through. Colm Murray of RTÉ racing correspondent fame practices over and over for the live link-up. 11.30 am A despondent John Ellis watches on as votes are counted, but reckons he’ll need a miracle to pull this one back. No sign of Denis Naughten anywhere. Apparently, he’s out at his in-laws house in Four Roads.  12.30 pm Final tallies become available. Show a margin of 1100 between Naughten and Ellis. All the talk is about the Kenny transfers. Still very few people in the count centre. Text the tallies to the brother in Australia, the sister in England and the sister who’s in the staffroom in Ardscoil Mhuire in Ballinasloe, the mammy in Glinsk, etc. Not much sympathy out there for the fallen. 1.10 pm Former Progressive Democrat councillor Hugh Lynn points to John Kelly as kingmaker, or ‘the Archbishop of Canterbury’ in Lynn parlance. I’ll have to ask Noel Fallon later what the hell that means. A relaxed and relieved looking Michael Finneran is in the count centre. Wikipedia tells me that the Coronation of the British monarch is officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  1.20 pm  Get the final tally for the postal votes. 1.30 pm Go to lunch in Horan’s with a very despondent Paul Hickey and Mairead O’Shea and Maresa Fagan of the Roscommon Herald. It’s all election talk, national, local, PDs, FF, FG, etc. Willie O’Dea’s 19,000 votes in Limerick. Get back and park directly in front of the Hyde Centre door. Think this is a great move. Can’t understand how the space is free. 2.45 pm I ask Paul Hickey to name all the people he knows who are there, for my ‘who was at the count’ piece. Big mistake. Willie Lyster calls representatives for the candidates in for the adjudication on spoilt votes. Baxter and McDaid the only two candidates who represent themselves. No sign of Noel O’Gara. 3 pm Hickey finishes naming people. Type the tallies with the help of Angela Doyle. Like everybody else, I look at the local box and wonder who are the two Baxter voters in Kilbegnet and who is the sole Green voter? 4.45 pm  Looked as if a first count is imminent. Go outside and find about 12 people sitting on my car and about 40 standing around it. 5 pm  Re-check starts (stewards’ enquiry in Colm Murray parlance), with counters checking each bundle of 50 votes to make sure that the numbers are correct. Word is that five new votes are found out of the 46,470 cast. 5.40 pm Expecting a count before 6 pm 6.15 pm First count and elimination of one third of the candidates. And then there were six. 7 pm Second count, Kenny eliminated. 8 pm As it becomes apparent that a third count is imminent, we hear that Ellis has got 1,283 in the tally. Then a bombshell. Mary Fanning of RTÉ says that Ellis has 2,000 votes in the tally. Naughten will be in serious trouble if that’s the case. 8.23  Third count. Ellis gets 1,287 votes from Kenny’s transfers, compared to Naughten’s 316, leaving 323 votes between them. Kelly eliminated. Amazingly, Feighan gets 914 Sinn Féin transfers. 9.50 pm Result of fourth and final count. Feighan is the big winner. He leap-frogs Finneran by 48 votes to take the first seat and Naughten is elected third without reaching the quota. 10.15 pm Election result announced. Cue ‘yahoo yahoo’. Lift up your candidate and throw them around the place. Finneran is not part of this and the celebrations for him are more subdued given his brother’s death earlier in the week. 11 pm  Get out of the count centre. Find another 12 people sitting on my car and about fifty people standing around it. Only with the help of Cllr. Ernie Keenan directing me do I get out of there. Would still be there otherwise.  12 pm Run into the aftermath of the Convent grad mass in the Rooster. It’s like I’m on a different planet. A very well-dressed and noisy planet. 1 am Closing time (of course).  2 am Hickey, ever the optimist, still coming up with crackpot theories as to how the war can be won by Fine Gael. 3 a.m. Even Hickey has conceded defeat. Election over.