A PHOTOGRAPH by John Kelly of holed leather shoes worn out by Councillor Cathal Crowe canvassing before the 2004 Local Elections has ended up in a civics textbook, which is currently on the Junior Certificate syllabus.
Councillor Crowe’s old shoes also form part of a display depicting Clare’s political history at the County Museum in Ennis.
Shortly after becoming the youngest councillor in the country to secure a seat on Clare County Council in June 2004, the 21- year-old Fianna Fáil Councillor was captured by Clare Champion photographer John Kelly making the “V” victory sign through the worn out sole of his shoes.
A few months earlier, the University of Limerick student, who was more used to trainers than leather shoes, made the short trip into Limerick City where he bought the famous shoes from his future wife, who had a summer shop in a well know city shoe shop at the time.
With the benefit of hindsight, Councillor Crowe acknowledged he was probably a little bit “green” and inexperienced going into the election campaign and was advised by Deputy Willie O’Dea to “get out there and burn shoe leather”.
“I literally did that and over the course of the following four of five months knocked on every single door in my electoral area. This extensive campaign was gruelling and took its toll on me.
“With only a few weeks to go to polling day I noticed holes starting to emerge in the soles of my shoes. My parents and girlfriend advised me to bin the shoes but I had a felling that they might bring me some luck in the election. For the remainder of the campaign I plodded along the highways and byways of South-East Clare and wore our many pairs of socks!
“It was very uncomfortable on rainy nights! Sure enough, the worn out shoes brought me some luck. I topped the pole and won a seat on Clare County Council,” he recalled.
He has bought a new pair of leather shoes and has already started canvassing for this summer’s Local Elections.
While the new pair are a good fit, he admits hey’re not as comfortable as his 2004 shoes.
With a lot of walking and campaigning ahead of him, it shouldn’t be too long before holes emerge in the new shoes.