Journalists, photographers, reporters and camera operators - and all the bull that comes with us lot - invaded a space more familiar to actual bulls on Tuesday. We were at the cattle mart in Fermoy, to see the Fine Gael Leader get his feet into some muck. He was there to be seen to be pressing the flesh. As a Dublin-based politician it is essential to be out and about, meeting the good people of Ireland.
Watching the circus roll through, you could only be struck by the utterly bonkers nature of campaigning. In the mart sales arena, cattle were ushered in through one gate and out through another. Bids were placed by buyers, farmers looked on from the seating area, taking notes. On the tannoy, the auctioneer upped the price. After a quick tour of the back pens, Leo Varadkar walked in with Simon Coveney and Michael Creed. A swarm of journalists followed, cameras clicked, microphones were poked in every direction. Suits were dirtied, shoes designed for Dublin newsrooms were scuffed. The mart didn't pause for a second. Bemused farmers glanced, and returned to the business of the day. Flashbulbs focused on the leader went off not five feet away. Like a tiny hurricane, it moved. Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney in the eye, trying to reach out past reporters to shake hands with mart regulars.
The welcome for the Fine Gael politicians wasn't as chilly as some feared, given the recent protests about the price of beef. The small-talk was had, the slice of homemade cake was bought. We grabbed a quick word with a few locals about their impression of things. Then the hurricane moved on. Into Fermoy town, we went. Schoolgirls asked for a selfie. More handshakes, more compliments from Leo Varadkar on the local produce: the butchers, the coffee shop, photo-ops on the bridge, and then on to the next town. The whirlwind continued. We managed to peel away just as the campaign seemed to be developing a lifeforce of its own, somewhere between a fatberg and a starling murmuration. We left Fine Gael, to get back to base and pick up with the next party.