Belfast woman finds Fabian Manning artifact on beach in County Donegal
Sen. Fabian Manning says his political career has taken him overseas at times, but the latest Fabian Manning sighting in western Europe is a little out of the ordinary.
© — Submitted photo
Janice Palmer of Belfast, Northern Ireland, holds an election sign for former Avalon district Conservative candidate Fabian Manning. She found it this summer while holidaying on Tramore Beach in the Republic of Ireland.
Janice Palmer was out for a July holiday in County Donegal on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland. She was staying in a caravan (the European word for “trailer” or “camper”) near the village of Rossbeg, close to Tramore Beach in Loughros More Bay.
A resident of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Palmer went for a walk on the beach every day during her holiday. On one of those days, she came across a blue and white sign with a large capital C surrounding a maple leaf.
The sign said, “Vote Fabian Manning — Avalon.”
“I found it in amongst the seaweed,” said Palmer, speaking with The Telegram by phone from her home in Belfast. “It was literally just at the water’s edge with seaweed around it, so it obviously had come in from the Atlantic.”
Given the beach is typically kept clean, Palmer suspects the sign washed ashore not long before she found it.
How long ago that sign left the shores of Newfoundland to start its 3,000-kilometre journey to Ireland is debateable. Manning has run for the Conservative party in Avalon on three occasions, winning on his first try in 2006 before losing twice to Liberal Scott Andrews, in 2008 and 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Manning to the Senate in 2009. Manning resigned from the Senate in 2011 so he could once again run for the Conservatives in a federal election. After Manning failed to defeat Andrews, Harper appointed him back to the Senate.
The Canadian maple leaf on the sign caught Palmer’s attention. Election signs are as commonplace in Ireland as anywhere else, according to Palmer, but she knew by the name on it that this was not a local sign.
Lacking Internet access while on holiday, Palmer wasn’t able to conduct research about the sign’s origins until she got back to Belfast. She admits to having no prior knowledge of Newfoundland and Labrador’s existence on the map.
“I just thought it was a wee bit of an interest to somebody that I find it,” she said.
Palmer did send an email to the address listed on the senator’s website, but she did not receive a response.
Speaking to The Telegram Monday evening, Manning confirmed that he did in fact see the picture she sent. Manning suspects his family and friends would not believe such a story if not for that evidence.
“It’s a long ways away, but I was delighted to hear the news that somebody had picked up a campaign sign on a beach in Ireland,” he said. “It’s interesting how things can get around. After the election, I ended up in the Senate and my sign ended up in Ireland. I’m not sure who did the best of that.”
Manning has visited Ireland on several occasions, and both sides of his family descend from there.
“It was intriguing to hear my sign had made it to the Emerald Isle, knowing that’s where my forefathers on both sides of my family are from.”
If anything, he said, the discovery of the sign may give him the incentive to take another trip to Ireland in order to visit County Donegal and see the beach in Loughros More Bay.
This is not the first time an election candidate’s sign has made its way from Newfoundland to the shores of Ireland. In 2007, a sign encouraging voters to support Liberal Scott Simms was reportedly discovered on the Irish isle of Achill. The Ottawa Citizen reported that the sign most likely came from the 2004 general election, given it mentioned the Bonavista riding, which was subsequently renamed Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor.
Palmer’s sign remains inside her caravan in County Donegal, which she plans to soon drive back to Belfast, given the summer season is coming to an end. She recalled that another person with a caravan in the area once found a message in a bottle on the beach. It came from a cruise ship.