Fellow Class of '77 Cistercian College Roscrea Pastman, Brian Cowen, is the new Taoiseach, today is his first day. The photo above is from today's The Irish Times front page showing him receiving his seal of office from President Mary McAleese.
I mentioned that I was a classmate of Brian's in a previous posting. If someone had told me in 1977 when the photo to the left was taken that the boy on my immediate left would be Taoiseach some day, I surely would not have believed them.
I don't think I would have selected Cowan in a "Boy Most Likely to be Taoiseach Some Day" competition. There are 56 boys in the photo - a select group now. Hopefully we'll meet up some day again at a re-union in CCR.
Brian signed the back of the photo (as did most others in the class) - this is his signature to the right. As you'll see, Brian followed Liverpool FC and I recall plenty of banter with him over soccer matters. He is known more today for support of GAA, and is not as well known as a soccer fan. Indeed it is hard to compare the man he is now with the fit youngster of 18 years of age in the school photo above.
In school he was one of those guys who was good at everything. Every game he played, he was one of the best. In class, he was one of the smartest. In debates, he out-classed everyone. He was modest, and never boasted about his achievements. He was a thief! Well, sort of. I used to get the newspaper every day in sixth year and during lunch he would "steal" it to read - he was prefect on the table next to mine. Let's hope he will be a good Taoiseach.
I have met Brian three times since school. The first was in The Ginger Man pub in Fenian Street not long after he was first elected to the Dáil - I'd say about 1985. I recall we chatted, mostly about College and what I was doing. The second time was in Guiness's during the visit of US President Bill Clinton in 1999 - we bumped into each other as he came out of an elevator. We shook hands, but he did not stop - cleverly keeping moving as he said hello to me. I'm sure people stop him all the time - he can't stop to talk to everybody. The third and last time was in 2005 at the launch of the CCR book Céad Bliann Faoi Rath, which marked the 100th Anniversary of CCR - Brian was to launch the book. I had been chatting to another classmate, Dr Eamon Maher, when he came over to sympathise with Eamon on the recent death of his father. We just said hello again. I would liked to have stayed around as I believe the party went on long into the evening, but I went to a soccer International after the book launch.