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Thursday, 02 December 2004

Antrim: Ballymena woman receives MBE

Eileen Johnston from Ballymena was in Buckingham Palace recently - not as a tourist - but to collect her MBE for charity work from the Queen. Eileen was honoured with the title for her services to elderly people in Northern Ireland and to children overseas. For Eileen, the whole thing came as something of a surprise, as she had been away on holiday when the letter from Buckingham Palace was sent to her home and had no idea about it until she got back. And even then she found it hard to take in, only really believing what had happened when she found herself shaking hands with the Queen.

Armagh: Georgion flavour for Armagh celebrations

There was something for everyone at Armagh's Georgian Extravaganza last week, held as part of the city's Christmas celebrations. Attended by hundreds of visitors, the city centre buzzed with candle-lit carols and dancing, alongside traditional fare such as spit-roasted pig, mulled wine and mince pies. Attractions for children included balloon modelling, stilt walkers and face painting. Music was provided by brass bands at numerous locations throughout the city. Armagh council's award-winning living history characters had also arrived as the 'gentry' by horse and carriage earlier in the day. Later in the evening, the 'gentry and servants' led festivities into the Mall, where the evening was later rounded off with a firework display.

Carlow: From small beginnings…

Anthony Dooley from Little Barrack Street in Carlow began his career in Statham's Garage and at that time could only dream of owning his own business, but now he has opened new showrooms for his company, Dooley Motors. With his wife Phil, nee Corcoran, and their family he formally opened the new showrooms at Sleaty Roundabout, with a blessing of the new premises by Father John Fingleton and the Reverend Gary Dowd. More than three hundred people, including family, neighbours, friends and customers, gathered at the showrooms for refreshments and musical entertainment.

Cavan: Popular principal retires

After twenty-six years service Nicholas Baxter recently retired as principal of Kilnaleck National School. A function was held in his honour in Crover House and is already being called the local social event of the year. The pupils of Kilnaleck National School held their own celebration and presentation for him, which was made all the more remarkable by the previous year's sixth class taking the day off secondary school to join in the celebrations. Mr Baxter will be missed by everyone as he was also heavily involved in the GAA and Kilnaleck Sheltered Homes Committee.

Clare: Windfall for St Flannans' College

St Flannans' College on the outskirts of Ennis is set to receive a €3.5m windfall when it sells a thirty-five-acre parcel of land that had provided the boarding students of the college with their food for many years. Though the boarding school is closing its doors next year and the nineteenth century building is a protected structure, all proceeds from the sale will be used for the development of the boarding school building. Apparently the farmer who bequeathed the land to the college in the 1940s had inserted a condition that proceeds from the land be used for the boarding school only. The college authorities are now considering creating a third-level educational institute in the old boarding school building.

Cork: Controversy over Ballincollig mediaeval site

A local Ballincollig historian has accused Cork County Council of covering up evidence of an ancient settlement on a site earmarked for the county fire service headquarters. Philip O'Connor accused the council of sitting for over a year on evidence of what he said is the earliest known site of human settlements in Ballincollig. He says he fears the site will be destroyed to make way for the council's fire service offices. Though it is widely believed that Ballincollig was founded in the early thirteenth century by the Normans the new site, which dates back to the eighth or ninth century, disproves this, according to Mr. O' Connor.

Derry: Restoration initiative underway in Derry

A prominent building at the corner of Derry's Shipquay Street and Castle Street will be the first of seventeen properties to benefit from a new project that is set to transform Derry's walled city. The building, dating from 1825, will be subject to a major overhaul as part of the Walled City Townscape Heritage restoration initiative, funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department for Social Development, the Housing Executive and the Planning Service. The completed building will house three new retail units with a restaurant and commercial offices opening onto Shipquay Street. There will also be six apartments on the upper floors.

Donegal: Road safety tips on Tory Island

Lying nine miles off the Donegal coast in the Atlantic Ocean and home to only one hundred and seventy people, Tory Island is known as Ireland's most remote island. Often entirely cut off by sea during the winter, the island is hardly the place you would expect the Gardaí to treat the locals to a major road safety presentation. However that is exactly what happened recently, after Gardaí drew up a road safety presentation to be shown throughout Donegal county following a significant rise in road deaths. The locals reacted with some bemusement to the presentation, understandably considering Tory Island has only twenty cars, virtually no roads and no road accidents in living memory.

Down: Thirteenth Newry 'sit-out' for hospice

Newry fundraiser John Dalzell, known as "the Newry Black Santa", is preparing for his thirteenth 'sit-out' in aid of the Southern Area Hospice. John started the week-long tradition back in 1992, when he raised just over £6,700. Since then the 'sit -out' has gone from strength to strength, raising over £250,000 for the terminally ill. Last year alone more than £63,000 was raised. Every year John dons his trusty red fisherman's suit and stands on Hill Street every day from December 17 until Christmas Eve. Though outdoor conditions are very uncomfortable at this time of year, John never loses sight of the worthy cause he's supporting.

Dublin: Catwalk for Fingal man

The Irish finals of the Ford Models Supermodel of the World competition takes place this weekend and included in the final twenty-five is Stuart King from The Ward. Fifteen girls and ten men are through to the finals where they will take part in a fashion show at the Morrison Hotel attended by key people from the beauty and fashion worlds. A fourth-year student of Theology in Trinity College Dublin, the twenty-one-year-old entered the competition for fun after a friend pointed out the advertisement, and never thought he'd get this far. Just two people will be selected at the finals.

Fermanagh: Drumgoon GAA holds Centenary Banquet

Drumgoon GAA recently held an extremely successful centenary banquet in Errigal House Hotel. The prestigious award of Senior Footballer of the Year went to Paul Crossan while Junior Player of the Year went to Michael Murray. Hurler of the Year was Edward Gaffney with the title of Camogie Player of the Year going to Caroline Shalvey. The Senior Lady Player of the Year award went to Teresa Clerkin and there were joint winners of the Junior Player of the Year award in Fiona Murray and Doireann Farrell. Three founding members of the current Blue and Yellow Club were also entered into the Hall of Fame. Geoff Kettle, Patsy Boyle and Gerry Carragher were presented with silver trays to mark their induction.

Galway: Winning streak for Tuam family

It looks as though the Brady family from Tuam may well have created a record with their winning appearances on the popular TV game show 'Winning Streak'. Bridget Brady, a mother of sixteen from Cloonascragh, won €17,400 on her second appearance on the show. Bridget's previous appearance on the show, during Mike Murphy's tenure as host, netted her over £17,000. Bridget's daughter Helen Mannion was also a winner some years ago, winning over £12,000. Bridget, who has forty-four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, told the show's presenter, Derek Mooney, that it was a scratch card bought by her youngest son Paul that was one of the lucky tickets drawn on the previous week.

Kerry: Soap role for Causeway singer

Olive Donegan, a singer and dancer from Causeway, has just landed a role in RTE's TV soap "Ros na Rún". The lucky break will most definitely take her career in a new and interesting direction, as the show is increasingly popular with Irish audiences. Though Olive is very well known in the Kerry music scene, her appearances on 'Ros na Rún' should make her a household name. Recently Olive performed in Tarbert at a concert at Kirby's Lanterns with Colm 'Stride' O'Brien. Olive, who has also performed in shows at both The London Palladium and The Royal Albert Hall, is currently involved with the Tralee Musical Society's latest production at Siamsa Tíre.

Kildare: "Reach Out" campaign in Newbridge

A new campaign to attract people to attend church regularly has been launched by Bishop Jim Moriarty in the Catholic diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. The "Reach Out" campaign will address the issues raised by people in the diocese after the publication last year of "Together in Christ", a draft guide to the diocese. From this Sunday all those attending church will be asked to bring home a specially designed candle and leaflet to give to their neighbours. The leaflet encourages the householders to light the candle in their homes on Christmas Eve and, as a symbol of unity, every church at Christmas will light a larger version of the candle.

Kilkenny: Going straight home pays off

When Father Dan Bollard decided to return straight home to his parochial house after saying an evening Mass, he interrupted two young men who were intent on robbing the house. Father Dan had been saying Mass in Moneenroe and, on returning to his house in Clogh, he discovered the two young men going through the contents of the parish safe. The curate, Father Denis Purcell, was saying Mass at Clogh at the time. Although some damage was done to a filing cabinet, the early arrival of the priest ensured that the thieves, who entered the house by the back door, left the premises empty-handed.

Laois: Welcome publicity for Heywood Gardens

The release of a limited edition collectors' coin set featuring Heywood Gardens in Ballinakill will soon be bringing the little-known heritage site to widespread public attention. The new set of coins is the third in a series of uncirculated collectors coins featuring some of Ireland's national monuments parks and nature reserves. Heywood Gardens, completed in 1912, comprises gardens, lakes, woodland and architectural features. An extensive re-planting programme was recently undertaken for the gardens, which were designed by the famous architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) and transferred to State ownership in 1993 from the Salesian Fathers.

Leitrim: Photographer is man of the moment

At the Abbey Manor Hotel in Dromahair last weekend Leitrim Guardian photographer Willie Moran received the Guardian Person of the Year award from last year's winner, Tommy Moran. Willie, a native of Leitrim village who has been a photographer with the Leitrim Guardian for the past twenty-seven years, was accompanied on the night by his wife Marian and daughters Rachel and Sarah; his sister Marie had also travelled from France for the occasion. After receiving the award Willie was given a standing ovation by those present. Two literary awards were also presented on the night, to Padraig Leyden and to Rory Kilbane from Manorhamilton.

Limerick: Limerick woman wins tourism award

Limerick woman Pauline Hamill was yesterday announced as the winner of the 2004 Fáilte Ireland Irish Welcome Awards. More than two and a half thousand people from forty countries had nominated individuals and tourism industry providers who had helped to make a special difference to their stay here. Pauline, from Rosbrien, had offered two American tourists the key of her caravan after they had arrived in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, during a rainstorm. The visitors, Jennifer Wallace and Daniel Turek, described Pauline's gesture as one of extraordinary generosity and remarkable trust.

Longford: Longford to host Rare Plant Festival

Longford Tourism has recently announced that Ireland's only Rare Plant Festival will be held in the county in May of next year. The Festival is being organised by Longford Tourism and will consist of specialist plants workshops, lectures and garden tours, combined with floral displays and garden parties. It is also hoped that private gardens throughout the midlands region will open up their gardens to the public for the festival weekend. Highlight of the weekend will be the Bord Glas 'Rare and Special Plant Fair' on Sunday May 8 which will be held in the Castle Forbes Kitchen Garden, Newtownforbes.

Louth: Jurate gives Drogheda the thumbs-up

Jurate Petroviene first came to Drogheda three years ago to visit friends, and never left. The twenty-four-year-old from Lithuania took a year off from her studies to visit friends in Drogheda. Jurate began working with her friends at Dublin Airport and it was here she met her husband, fellow countryman Tomas. Now they have a young son, Luka and, while Jurate is not sure whether they will settle permanently in Ireland, she believes that if the time comes for Luka to start school and they are still here, then they will stay. They did, however, make the journey home to Lithuania for their marriage.

Mayo: From village shop to famous pub

Pat Cohan's shop in Cong, which was used for the exterior shots of the pub in "The Quiet Man", is to become a pub in real life since the owner, Jack Murphy, has handed over the premises to his nephew, John Connolly. The interior shots were filmed in Hollywood and now the fixtures and fittings are to be brought to Ireland and it is expected that the new premises will be open for business by next June, to mark the fifty-second anniversary of the Irish premiere of the film. Permission has still to be given by Paramount Pictures, however, for the material to be used in the shop.

Meath: 'Salmon of Knowledge' in Navan

A bronze scuplture called the 'Salmon of Knowledge' can now be seen in the grounds of St Anne's Loreto Primary School in Navan thanks to the work done with the schoolchildren by artist Betty Newman-Maguire. After all three hundred and twenty-seven children in the school were encouraged to draw their idea of what the sculpture should be about, the 'Salmon of Knowledge' was settled upon. The scales of the salmon are made from a direct casting from each child's thumbprint and the completed sculpture has been placed on a rock in the grounds of the school.

Monaghan: Festive fun in Clones

This weekend Clones will be the place for shopping and getting into the Christmas spirit. The annual Clones Christmas Fete will take place over the two days in the Lennard Arms Hotel and Creighton Hotel, with Santa arriving in the town on Saturday afternoon. The Fete, supported by the local Chamber of Commerce and Community Forum, will also offer a silver band, carol singing, and a demonstration on baking a Christmas cake; the Christmas lights will also be switched on. Part of the Fete will include a cake sale by the Clones Erne East Special Olympics Network.

Offaly: Primary school students release charity CD

Twenty-seven primary school students from Rashina National School in Ballinahow have lent their voices to a charity fundraising campaign by recording their own professional CD. The CD will be released in time for the Christmas market and all proceeds will be going to a deserving cause, the Offaly Downs Syndrome Foundation. School principal Patricia Hennessy said the whole idea of recording and releasing a CD came from listening to the music the children were playing during their music classes, surely a testament to their musical skills, and the idea grew from there.

Roscommon: "Virtual classes" at Roscommon school

Thanks to its use of modern technology, a small school in the county hopes to take education into a whole new era. Children at the three-teacher Athleague National School have been learning traditional Irish music over the internet in what is Ireland's first "virtual class." The project was initiated by traditional Irish music teacher James Donohoe who, during the class, can see and hear the pupils playing the music in the classroom, while he is sitting at home. The webcam-driven innovation may well prove to be an important step in solving the problem of providing specialist education in areas like music, foreign languages, and arts and crafts.

Sligo: Sligo's Christmas present for Armenia

Thanks to "Operation Christmas Child", a "Santa's Sleigh" filled with toys recently left the Orchard Centre in Sligo's Finisklin Industrial Estate for Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia. Some six and a half thousand special Christmas boxes donated by children from all over Sligo and neighbouring counties will bring some Christmas cheer to deprived Armenian children. The project is being run by Samaritan's Purse and co-ordinated by Gwen Evans, whose work with the project earned her a Community Award in the Sligo Person of the Year scheme last month.

Tipperary: Heart of Nenagh set for development

Work on a plan to transform the dilapidated site of the old O'Meara's Hotel in Nenagh will start next week. The €10m project will see the creation of a new pedestrian street, to be known as Quintin's way, and the development of nineteen High Street retail units and ten apartments. The initiative is expected to take eleven months before completion and is set to transform the image of one of Nenagh's most neglected areas. Indications are good so far, the retail units have already received inquiries from some well-known retail chains and all of the apartments have been sold. The project is being promoted by the development company d4u.

Tyrone: New shopping experience in Dungannon

This week saw the opening on the main street in Dungannon of Argos, a store which has brought some fifty new jobs to the town. The John Street store officially opened for business on Thursday under the management of Grainne Burrows. Unlike older stores, this facility will have an open stockroom so that customers can see exactly what is happening when they place their orders. As an opening present to their new customers, Argos is promoting a prize draw which will see one lucky customer walk away with a Sony DVD camcorder.

Waterford: New over-sixties café opens in Waterford

A new café for the over sixties opened in Waterford city last Friday, offering a low-price and no-hassle alternative to many city centre establishments. Local actress Anna Manahan, who formally opened Café Moll in Lady Lane, called the café an "alternative to consumerism" for older people. The concept for the new facility came from Waterford Lifetime administrator Catherine Hearne, who opened their facilities to the public as a way to bring older people into contact with others. Serving home-cooked foods and "no fuss" snacks, the café will provide a comfortable place to rest between shopping.

Westmeath: Coosan youngster on 'Late Late'

Kate Brill from Rindoon Park in Coosan, Athlone recently became the envy of many Irish youngsters when she was selected from over two thousand entries to act as a toy demonstrator on this year's "Late Late Toy Show". Kate, who attends Sandra Julian's stage school 'Dancezone' in Moate, is in third class Coosan National School. It was her mother, Aishling, who saw the advertisement and sent show by sending in a tape of Kate dancing at home. The eight-year-old was accompanied to the show by her parents while her younger sisters Ali, Kelly and Amy stayed up past their bedtime and watched at home.

Wexford: Library remembers Antarctic explorer

Last week some selected sketch books from the late Antarctic explorer Edward Wilson were launched at Wexford Town Library. Though Wilson is probably mainly remembered for his membership of Captain Scott's ill-fated expedition to Antarctica in 1912, he was also an accomplished and prolific artist of natural history. Most of the images from his restored sketch-books have never been seen in public before, having been kept under lock andkey since his death. For the past three years his great-nephews, David and Chris have worked to ensure that the images were digitally cleaned and repaired.

Wicklow: Ski athlete from Delgany

Lorraine Whelan from Delgany has been chosen to join the Irish team which will represent Ireland at the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Japan in February. At the Games in Alaska last year Lorraine won three medals, while at the Summer Olympics in Ireland she won a gold medal. With her team mates she has been undergoing residential training at the Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan and in January they will travel to Austria where they will have their first opportunity of training on real snow. Lorraine will take part in the Alpine Skiing event at the Games.

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