JAIME Downey is a 21-year-old student who lives near Kilmacthomas with her family. She is currently finishing her final year of a BA in Sociology and Politics in University College Cork and hopes to continue on to complete a Masters next. Daughter of Jonathan and Aisling and the eldest of two siblings, Jaime is Waterford born and bred! Jaime was recently elected to the position of National Membership and Recruitment Director of Ógra Fianna Fáil at the organisation’s National Youth Conference.
Life in a Day
My days are all kind of the same and not too exciting at the moment due to college being online during lockdown. I usually spend my day doing college work – or at least trying. With this being my final year, college is fairly full on at the moment between assignments and studying for exams so I spend a good portion of my time focusing on that. I try to find sometime every day to catch up on the news and stay up to date with what’s going on in the world as that’s important for what I’m studying.
I usually take a break when my family start coming home from work and school to spend some time with them and talk about our days. Most evenings I go for a walk with my sister or brother on the Waterford Greenway which is near our house. At the moment, I have Zoom calls nearly every evening for Ógra Fianna Fáil or the other UCC societies I’m involved with and they take up most the rest of my evening. I’ve personally found Zoom calls a really good way to stay in touch with people across the country and keep busy during lockdown. If I get a chance, I’ll watch something online then for an hour before going to sleep. I’m trying to get through all of ‘Criminal Minds’ at the moment and it’s taking ages!
What school did you go to?
I went to the Mercy Primary and Secondary School in Waterford. I’m only out of school a few years but I loved my time in both.
What teacher do you remember most vividly?
The teacher I remember most vividly isn’t actually one who I had in school! Up until I was 16, I was a member of St Paul’s Scout Group in Lisduggan and I think I learned more life skills from my leaders there than I did in school! In particular, my scout leader Pat O’Connor taught me a lot of skills that I still use sometimes without even realising. I spent my summers training for Phoenix Challenges and it always kept me busy when I was younger.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Whenever I’m worried or stressed, my Mam always tells me to “do what makes me happy” and she’s never been wrong so definitely that. I am absolutely useless at making decisions but following that advice has never put me wrong even if I don’t always listen to it because I think I know best. I’ve always wanted to make other people happy, especially when I was 15 and sometimes you just need to do what makes you happy instead and stop worrying about other people!
How do you relax?
I usually go for a walk with my siblings and unwind by just giving out if something is bothering me and get it off my chest. I’m extremely opinionated (which is why I’m so interested in politics) and have to say what’s on my mind so talking always helps! I spend a good bit of time on my phone so I’ll sometimes just turn it off and watch a film and give myself a break from social media and all that comes with it.
What is your favourite film and piece of music?
I love a good rom-com! Anything that has a cute story and a happy ending is my kind of thing. I love films like ‘Notting Hill’, ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ or ‘The Greatest Showman’. As for music, I’ll listen to anything but I love the song ‘Grace’, especially the Jim McCann version or any song by Tracy Chapman or Taylor Swift!
When was the last time you cried?
I don’t cry often at all, usually no more than two or three times a year but when I cry, I bawl. My Nanny on my Mam’s side has undergone treatment for cancer in the last four months and is thankfully finished now but I got very emotional the last day she had treatment so probably then.
What has been your happiest moment of recent times?
I was elected National Membership and Recruitment Director of Ógra Fianna Fáil a few weeks ago and that definitely made me really happy! I’ve always been really interested in politics and working to make Ireland even better. My Grandparents have all received their first dose of the vaccine and I was delighted every time I heard one of them had an appointment to get it as well!
Do you pray?
Not enough but I do! It’s always one of the things I do when I’m worried about anything and I find it’s a real source of comfort. Since I was younger, I’d usually go into the Cathedral if I’m in town and light a candle for my family.
What is your biggest fear?
I am absolutely petrified of the dark. I wish it was something cooler but no, the dark is my biggest fear! When I was in my first year of college, I had moved from the countryside into the centre of Cork city and found the noises and stuff so hard to get used to that my best friend, Donnacha, literally bought me a night light because he knew I was scared of the dark and thought it might help. And to be honest, it definitely did!
What is your most treasured possession?
For my 16th birthday, my parents gave me a ring that my dad had bought my mam when they were 16 and 17 and I absolutely love it. It isn’t a big or flashy ring but it’s fab and definitely my favourite. My Dad bought me and my sister matching rings last Christmas and that’s definitely treasured too!
What is your favourite thing about Waterford?
I’m going to be a bit cringe here, maybe, and say that I found it so hard to pick just one! I love Waterford. I grew up here and spent my summers on the beaches and when I was a teenager, spent every Saturday outside The Book Centre. I love events like Spraoi and Winterval and think they’re great examples of what Waterford is capable of. With Winterval, the city just changes for a few weeks and becomes a winter wonderland which is amazing. I love the sense of community within Waterford too; everyone from Waterford believes so much in Waterford and wants the best for the county. Why? Because we all firmly know that Waterford deserves the best – and to finally win the All-Ireland Hurling title!
If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be?
As someone who was a teenager living in mid-Waterford but went to school in the city, I would have loved better public transport. I used to always have to get lifts when I was meeting friends and it would have been much easier if I could just get a bus home afterwards. Likewise, I’d love a train to run between Waterford and Cork but that’s just because I rather trains to buses!
In conversation with Dermot Keyes