Feature Story                                                                                             Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The Gathering

O'Mahony thanks campaign volunteers, mourns election loss with traditional Irish Wake

Staff/Voice photos


Former MLA Gwen O'Mahony stands next to an effigy in a makeshift coffin at her home last week. Below, Patti MacAhonic was also there for the wake.


he home's curtains were tightly drawn. Ominous black ribbons hung on the door. In the living room, sheaths covered mirrors. A casket bearing a skeletal effigy sprinkled with American money sat next to a skewed lamp illuminating campaign photos on the wall behind.


This austere looking scene gave way to the laughter of more than a dozen people schmoozing in Gwen O'Mahony's back yard.


"It's an Irish Wake," exclaims O'Mahony who was wearing a black lace shawl. “We are mourning the loss of the campaign.”


Traditional Irish wakes often include what's called "keening". This usually involves a pair of women who would and cry and wail while standing vigil over a deceased person. Instead of crying, sometimes poetry is recited.


The wake's lead keener waas Cy Donnelly, Coquitlam MP Finn Donnelly's father, captured some levity in the form of a poetic eulogy by reciting a Dr. Seuss style poem.


The group had some laughs earlier with a parlour game and prize gifts. O'Mahony didn't forget anything or anyone. She even handed out wine glasses etched with "O'Mahony Campaign 2013" to all of her guests.


"It’s a private party for those people who really supported me and it’s a bit of fun, we needed to have some fun," she said.


"I get as much as I can from local companies. The main dinner entree consisted of pork chops from award-winning Burrard Farms. The corn was from Ted Westlyn's garden. The Italian wine is from one of our members on the campaign team,” explained O’Mahony.


Cy Donnelly recited a humorous poem during the eulogy. Below, the Drunken Mahones play traditional Irish music.


She acknowledges that it’s been awhile since she closed her constituency office on Young Rd. and the former Chilliwack-Hope MLA wanted to show her appreciation to her 2013 campaign volunteers, so she threw them a party at her home.


“Every time we have an election, more people join on the team and more people get involved. I don't know what's wrong with you people but you keep coming back,” joked O’Mahony.


O’Mahony broke news that she will be leaving on a long-awaited trip to Ireland where she plans on looking at the job market, and if she likes it there, she may stay on for a while.


“Sometime in my life I wanted to go to Ireland, and I've always wanted to live abroad, so all you do is you sort of re-work the plan, right?”


"It might be something completely different, and of course there's politics everywhere," said O'Mahony when asked what she may want to do there.


Regarding her political ambitions, O’Mahony says that she got a taste of what it was like to be an elected official and isn’t ruling out a return to the campaign trail.


“We're still looking at what we're going to be doing here local and everybody will be kept in the loop on what decisions we've made,” she said. “I definitely want to go back to Victoria.”


“It’s not about leaving; it's about looking at adventures and goals that you have.”


O’Mahony says she sees the trip to Ireland as an opportunity and hasn’t taken the decision to go lightly because she loves her home and community.


 “I don't believe you should linger too long at a door when it closes,” she told the Voice.


One of the guests was Patti MacAhonic, who lost to Liberal John Martin in the May elections.



Gwen O'Mahony shows her appreciation for campaign volunteers in her back yard.


MacAhonic is leaving too — sort of.


Earlier last week, she accepted a position as the new CEO for the South Okanagan-Similkameen Brain Injury Society.


According to former NDP candidate, it was a good summer despite falling and breaking her arm and later going through a surgery that left her with an 8” scar.


“I've had time to spend with family and I've been blueberry and blackberry picking down by the river and made jam.


 She even had time to can pickles.


"I made 45 quarts of dills," she said laughing.


MacAhonic has been a Chilliwack resident for 23 years and doesn’t plan on selling her Chilliwack River Valley home.


“I'm keeping my place here too and I'll be travelling back and forth, and I'll have two residences” she said. “I found a little place in a vineyard on the way to Naramata. It's a lovely old farmhouse. It's got the Kettle Valley Rd. behind there, and its10 minutes to the beach.”


She feels she’s a natural fit for the job because she has experience working with the BC Brain injury Association


“I was executive Director and did a business turnaround of the BC Brain Injury Association and I've been on the national board, so it's very comfortable for me,” she said. “They're looking at maybe moving in a little bit of a new direction and I think I am the person that can help them do that.”


When asked if she still had any future political ambition, MacAhonic says she always keeps her options open.


“I'm involved here with the local constituency and will be actively doing fundraising and get different things happening so that we can make sure that we're ready for the next election, whether I'm the actual person that's running or not.”






© Copyright (c) 2013 The Valley Voice