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50 years on, longest-serving female councillor re-elected

The country’s longest-serving female councillor has been re-elected, 50 years after first tasting electoral success.

Fine Gael councillor Mary Hilda Cavanagh won 1,865 first preference votes in the Castlecomer electoral area and will be returning to Kilkenny County Council when it resumes work.

Asked for the secret of her long-lasting success, she said: “I think hard work, commitment, dedication, being available at all times to my constituents, and the kindness of my electorate. I’m really humbled by the size of my vote.”

She said she was “relieved” to have been elected to the council for the tenth time, and said that she was never discriminated against because of being a woman, during her career.

“Not really, no, I was always treated fairly by my fellow councillors at all times. And any committee that I wanted to work on, I was allowed to work on that committee.

“Agriculture and education are my great passions and I served on the county committee for agriculture and on various education boards, including WIT for over 30 years and the VEC, which is now the ETB, for over 50 years, UCD for five years, so I really did get a fair crack of the whip at all times.”

When asked if she would return to the election campaign in five years’ time, she said: “You never know, never say never. I had intended to retire at 40 but I think if you’re in good health and you enjoy your work, why not?”

Present with Cllr Cavanagh at the Kilkenny count were many family members, including six grandchildren, the youngest of whom is five-week-old Tess Mary Hilda.

She said she would not discourage her from entering politics in years to come.

“No, I think people should be encouraged to stay in a democratic country and encouraged to go into politics.”

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