By Christy Parker | Photo: Michael Hussey (YoughalOnline.com)
Ken Lavan has been added to the Fine Gael ticket to contest Youghal’s local election next year. The auctioneer and Care Trust representative was selected at a recent branch meeting and will campaign alongside two incumbent party colleagues, Town and County Councillor Barbara Murray and Michael Beecher. It will be the 39 year-old’s first election campaign, having joined the party last year.
Ken’s candidacy may bring something of a west Waterford influence to the chamber come next June. His uncle is Dungarvan solicitor Joe Lavan and his aunt is Lavinia Lavan, proprietor of Lavinia’s Boutique on Main Street. Furthermore, he recently married Kilrossanty girl Karen Walsh.
Those who remember Ken’s dad, Paddy Lavan, may be surprised to see him in the Blueshirt camp. The late and legendary Youghal solicitor was a Fine Fail stalwart. However Ken’s mother Ann, nee Crowley, is a Fine Gael girl from Listowel. “There was always lively political debate at home when I was growing up,” recalls Ken, who is the eldest of a family of three brothers and a sister. His brother John, is a practicing solicitor in Youghal, making him the fourth generation of the family to do so.
An admirer of former FG Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald, Ken attended Rockwell College, for whom he played rugby-as indeed he did for his native Youghal. He graduated in philosophy and sociology at UCC before studying law for two years. Then he eschewed all other options to take up a sales career with CIE in Dublin. Four years after he entered the auctioneering arena with Liam Lynch (Cork, 1997) and Con Spillane (Youghal, 1998) before fashioning a nine-year career as one third of Burton Lavan McCarthy Auctioneers in Cork city, dealing in home and international markets.
Last year he opted to go solo as Ken Lavan Auctioneers, Youghal. This coincided with taking up another position, as a Rehab Care Trust representative, assisting people with disabilities.
“I find it very fulfilling,” he says.
Perhaps Rehab was a career destiny because in 1986 he survived horrific injuries as a back seat casualty in a car accident, which left him in a semi-coma for six weeks and residual, long-term injury. “I was very lucky,” he reflects, “but my life has given me a strong affiliation for matters related to disability. I’m also proud of my survival and the positive attitude that helped me through. I believe a similar attitude will benefit me in politics.”
So its safe to assume that disability issues would feature in council motions should young Lavan get elected. “Yeah. There’s a lot being done but more is needed,” he suggests. “More ramps, more resources, more general awareness, for certain.”
One place he’d like to see disability ramp is in “a major, major hotel in Youghal.” Espousing tourism and recreation as one of Youghal’s major attributes, he says such an establishment, with attendant facilities and attractions, would “draw people to the town.” By inverse token, he decries derelict structures of which one on any Youghal street is one too many in his eyes. The endless absence of a marina further irks him.
On the positive side, he expresses admiration for the current level of active support by the general business community towards Youghal’s tourist and heritage momentum. “There is definitely a lot of positive people here,” he observes.
Away from work and off the soapbox he enjoys the therapy -many would say addiction- of golf, which he plays off a 12 handicap. He is committee member of Youghal Golf Club. He is also a member of the Harmony musical group, being obviously aware that a loud voice and an acting ability are fundamental to Irish politics.
Supporting his dip in the political pond, new wife Karen, is also a FG advocate. The couple met in Davitt’s night club, Dungarvan and married and honeymooned in Rome last month. A former nurse, Karen is a medical rep for a pharmaceutical firm serving Munster.
As yet the couple do not have a family, but they do have a mare. “She won a point-to-point in Killeagh last winter,” says Ken, “and is starting out under rules now. Karen named her from a tea box. She’s called Perfect Blend.” Bit like Lavan and Youghal Town Council perhaps?