Independent Ireland MEP candidate Ciaran Mullooly pictured voting on Friday along with his son Bryan and wife Angela.

Strong showings by Mullooly and Cowen in Euro race

Counting was continuing in the European election race in the Midlands - Northwest constituency at the time of going to press on Tuesday last, with sitting MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, retired jockey Nina Carberry, and Offaly TD Barry Cowen leading the way.

Ten years after he was first elected to a seat in Brussels, 'Ming' Flanagan's support base has proven robust, with the 52-year-old Castlerea Independent topping the poll with 78,214 first preferences in the mammoth 15-county constituency.

Fianna Fáil's Cowen came in second on the first count, with 73,908 votes.

He was marginally ahead of Fine Gael's Carberry, whose performance is surpassing expectations, with her running mate, sitting MEP Maria Walsh, in fourth.

Former RTÉ Midlands correspondent Ciaran Mullooly, from Lanesboro, is the hunt for the fifth and final seat, heaving received 57,297 first preferences.

At the time of writing, the first three counts had been completed and showed that Flanagan, Carberry, Cowen and Walsh were looking set to take the first four seats, with Mullooly in fifth place, 11,573 votes ahead of Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew.

Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers and Aontú leader Peadar Toibin were next in the pecking order, ahead of the third Fianna Fáil candidate, Niall Blaney.

On Monday, Mullooly, who is representing Independent Ireland, posted on social media that he was "quietly confident" of winning a seat.

Some 27 candidates ran in the constituency. It means there's still a distance to go until all of the seats are filled, with the counting set to go on for some time in Castlebar.

The constituency had an electorate of 1,318,190, so the quota for election is 113,325.

The total poll on Friday, was 700,700, representing a turnout of 53.16%, and there were 20,754 spoiled votes. At the time of writing five of the candidates; Margaret Maguire of the Ireland First party, and Independents Gerry Waters, Charlotte Keenan, Stephen Garland and Daniel Pocock had so far been eliminated.