On a dark crisp December evening in the year 2000, about 2,000 people gathered at The Square in Dundalk, under the Christmas lights, for the visit of President Bill Clinton.
The stand from which he would address the crowd, was at the edge of Earl Street. The international press had taken over the Arts Office, now the tourist and BIDS office, and seemed a bit bemused by the idea that the most powerful leader in the world would want to come to ‘a small town like something out of Kansas surrounded by potato fields’.
The previous day, Chinook helicopters flew into Aiken barracks. They would transport the President and his entourage on to Belfast after the visit.
For the visit itself, President Clinton, accompanied by his wife Hilary and daughter Chelsea, down the, just completed but yet to be opened motorway. On the way, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern coached Mr Clinton on some local pronunciation.
The visit was well planned and a major success, thanks to Michael Curran and his team who spent weeks putting it all together.
Michael is a senior executive with Louth County Council and is now retiring.
Since the Clinton visit he has worked on many successful projects, including cross-border bodies and the Louth Economic Forum.
Disappointment was expressed on the announcement of his retirement at the July meeting of the council. He was described as someone “who brought a fresh approach to local government,” and who played a leading role in the organising of the Clinton visit.
Michael will leave at the end of August after 15 years working in a number of departments.
Councillors paid tribute to him saying he was “incredibly capable”, very efficient and courteous and they expressed their gratitude to him.
Cllr Declan Breathnach said the council’s loss would be somebody else’s gain.
Michael’s commitment to cross border affairs, green technology, and work right across the spectrum, was praised by Cllr Breathanch.
Cllr Colm Markey thanked him for all his efforts, remarking “he brought a new way of thinking to the county council.”
Cllr Edel Corrigan joined in the tributes, while Cllr Peter Savage said he was “very disappointed Michael is leaving” and said his fine reputation was known across the border region.
Council Chief Executive Joan Martin recalled Michael came to the council as Director of Community Services. Many projects in the county and beyond owed their existence to him and his work with the International Fund was outstanding. The excitement, energy and drive and great buzz he brought to meetings would be missed.
Replying Mr Curran said he enjoyed his 15 years with the council and thanked all for their kind remarks. He wished management and councillors well in the future. He had all his life worked with people on a co-operative basis and enjoyed it.