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Thursday, 04 March 2010

Antrim: Daring rescue remembered on Rathlin

Last weekend in the parochial hall on Rathlin Island local people were joined by members of the Red Bay lifeboat and a representative from Moyle council to mark the eightieth anniversary of a remarkable rescue. When in 1930 the steam trawler Shackleton was blown off course and struck rocks a team of men from the island fired six rockets to attach lines to the stricken vessel before winching all fourteen crew members to safety using a breeches buoy. Among those in the hall last weekend was the island’s oldest resident, Loughie McQuilkin, who has a particular memory of the event since it was his father who led the rescue team.

Armagh: President to visit city for celebrations

President Mary McAleese will be in Armagh for the week-long St Patrick’s Day celebrations when she will deliver the inaugural Saint Patrick’s Lecture in the Navan Centre. The lecture is to be an annual event themed on St Patrick’s Confession and how it relates to modern day Ireland. The programme for the week was launched in Saint Patrick’s Trian and among those attending were Kathryn O’Neill and Ann-Marie McKeever of Beam Creative Network who are organising the parade this year. Among other events on offer is Music on the Square on the Saturday after the feast day, a free concert featuring Cara Dillon, the High Kings and Celtic Rhythm.


Carlow: Gabrielle gives hair to charity

A young Carlow girl of only ten-and-a-half years will be bravely cutting her long blonde hair in aid of cancer charities. Gabrielle Shannon of Burrin Manor will be donating her hair to be made into a wig for a cancer patient as well as raising money for the cancer care unit at St Vincent’s Hospital. Gabrielle’s mother Ann explained how her generous daughter is doing this in honour of a close family friend, Ann-Marie Griffin, who died of cancer last year. The big night will be held in Ewing’s in Haymarket on St Patrick’s night, and forty mini hot air balloons will be released during the night by people who have lost loved ones.


Cavan: Social outlet for men in west Cavan

Community development officer for the county council Marie O’Reilly has initiated a project which sees men from the west of the county becoming involved in the community while at the same time taking up new interests. Many of the men who meet in Glangevlin Hall are single and living on their own, though some are married men whose wives already have their own social outlets. Among the men who have attended the meetings are Brendan Cornyn from Dowra, Vincent Convey, a single man as is JP Dolan, Frankie Maguire from Dowra and Thomas McGovern. The men are brought to the hall by bus and returned home at the end of the meeting.

Clare: Doolin Pier to be upgraded

One of those who have welcomed the news that funding has been allocated for the upgrading of Doolin Pier is local councillor Richard Nagle, who has been urging the Government for funding. Councillor Nagle said that, not only would work on the pier provide jobs in construction, the improved facility would also encourage tourism in the north Clare region. At present many tourists go on to harbours in Galway to access the Aran Islands, but the upgraded pier will mean that the ferry service will now be able to access Doolin at low tide. The improvements will also aid local fisherman to land their catches in Doolin.

Cork: €1 hotel rooms in Clonakilty

To celebrate the relaunching of the Cork to Swansea ferry, which was withdrawn three years ago, hotels in Clonakilty are offering one hundred rooms at €1 per night. The promotion includes breakfast and is being run at nine venues including the Lodge & Spa at Inchydoney Island. According to Jim Daly, chairman of Clonakilty District Chamber of Tourism, the aim of the promotion is not only to celebrate the reintroduction of the ferry but also to raise the profile of the area as a tourist destination. While the offer opened last week, the relaunch was unfortunately postponed for a week due to technical problems.

Derry: Contents of Draperstown house for auction

A man best known for his years of teaching Irish dancing in Derry and Tyrone was also a lifelong collector of antiques, and the contents of his house in Draperstown went under the hammer last week. Seamus Kerrigan, known as “the Master”, lived at The Rath on High Street, a house dating back to Plantation times and built by the original Drapers Company from London. The buildings included a coachman’s cottage and this held a number of old cooking implements as well as a traditional Irish dresser, while the house was full of nineteenth century furniture, portraits, vases and a number of clocks.

Donegal: Hotel to make way for Buncrana development

The Swilly Hotel in Buncrana is to be demolished to make way for a new development to be known as the Shore Front project. Planning permission has just been granted to Flanagans of Buncrana for seventy residential units comprising apartments and terraced houses, three town houses, a crèche, an underground car park and landscaped gardens. The Flanagan family has had to wait for six years to make a start on the development since it was appealed to An Bord Pleanála, but this means that the associated costs will now be much lower than first forecast. They have also ensured that the design of the complex will be aesthetically pleasing and will complement the furniture they manufacture.


Down: New exhibit for Mount Stewart

The Mount Stewart estate in Newtownards is to have a new exhibit later this month when a restored coach belonging to the Marquess of Londonderry is put on display at the former Londonderry home. The yellow and black state coach, dating from the 1880s, has been restored with funding from the National Trust and it will be accompanied by old images of the coach, film footage of the coronations at which it has been used, and photographs of some of the people associated with the coach. The Marquess of Londonderry used the coach at the coronations of Edward VII, George V and George VI in addition to its use at weddings and on other state occasions in London.

Dublin: Opinions differ over hospital chapel

Architects and An Taisce are disagreeing over the merits of a nineteenth century church in the grounds of St James’ Hospital which has been earmarked for demolition. The chapel, which is used by the patients for weekly Mass, and by those of other faiths, is to make way for a new private hospital and the planners have given the go-ahead. One group using the church will, however, have to be accommodated; a bat shelter may have to be built since the mammals are known to be living in the roof of the building. The Rialto Residents’ Association and An Taisce haven’t yet given up the fight and are to appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

Fermanagh: St Angelo to be extended

The District Council has approved the cost of £200,000 for the purchase of eight acres of land between St Angelo airport and the lake, in addition to a further £75,000 interest in an adjoining site of ten acres on which the present occupier has a forty-nine year lease. The extra land offers the opportunity to both extend the airfield to Lower Lough Erne and to provide a marina, with the prospect of water taxis being used to carry visitors to their hotels. A further development will be flights linking the airport with Campbelltown on the west coast of Scotland.


Galway: Fr Kenny brings them in

By the simple expedient of condensing the celebration of Mass to fifteen minutes an east Galway priest has increased his congregation tenfold. At the church in Kilconly parish Father Michael Kenny had been celebrating daily Mass at nine o’clock and attracting a congregation of just three or four. During Lent, however, he decided to bring the time forward to half-past seven so that people can attend Mass before going to work, and managed to complete it in fifteen minutes by eschewing a sermon and having the help of a Eucharistic minister to distribute Holy Communion. His congregation has consequently increased to between thirty and forty each morning.

Kerry: Emergency leads to call of ‘Cut’

A German television crew filming the Dingle Coast Guard team had to call “cut” on their filming when an actual emergency arose. The team had been filmed rescuing a ‘casualty’, Seán Pól Ó Conchúir, from the cliffs at Dunmore Head overlooking Coumeenole Strand. They were carrying him on a stretcher towards the rescue helicopter when the winchman told them they had had a call to an emergency in Cork and had to leave immediately. However the camera crew were happy that the emergency took priority and hope to film the final scene later since they are in the area for another week or so.


Kildare: Twinning visit of deputy mayor to Florida

Last year Newbridge and the Curragh were twinned with the Florida town of Ocala, since both towns have strong links to horseracing, and in order that the twinning arrangement be strengthened Deputy Mayor Murty Aspell paid a recent visit. He was accompanied by his partner, Paula Coughlan, as well as Councillor Mick Deely and his wife Marion. As is becoming the norm in these times, the four paid their own way on the visit. They saw at first-hand how zero tolerance works when they travelled in a police patrol car at night. The twinning committee in Ocala is planning to send representatives from their police force and fire service to the St Patrick’s Day parade in Newbridge.


Kilkenny: Traders unhappy with new location

Traders in the farmers’ market in Kilkenny City are hoping that the Borough Council will come to a decision to allow them to trade in the plaza rather than the Mayor’s Walk on the Parade. Since redevelopment of the Parade started two years ago the stallholders have been trading at the Market Yard, and the decision to place them in the Mayor’s Walk has led to requests that they instead be allowed to use the more visible plaza area of the Parade. According to Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna Farm House Cheese, the market employs some sixty people but some of the trailers are too big to fit into the Mayor’s Walk, while there is better visibility on the plaza.

Laois: Day in a million for Durrow auction house

Auctioneer Michael Sheppard of Sheppard’s Irish Auction House in Durrow described it as a once in a lifetime experience when the auction house realised its highest price for an item in its sixty-year history. The item in question, a Chinese vase belonging to a Carlow family, had a guide price of €150 and bidding opened at €50. However two collectors who had seen the twelve inch high vase on the internet, one from London and one from China, both recognised it as an eighteenth century Chinese porcelain vase and the bidding moved up swiftly. The vase was eventually sold to Richard Peters for €110,000.

Leitrim: Louise is queen of the Mud Run

The inaugural Mud Run which took place at Mondello in Co. Kildare recently, to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis Ireland, featured a number of awards and one went to a woman from Ballinaglera. Louise Loughlin, a former Leitrim Ladies goalkeeper, dressed up as a warrior princess for the occasion and took the award for the person who “Did it in Style”. Louise and more than four hundred entrants, all of whom raised at least €150 before entering, encountered mud pits, water and obstacles over the five kilometre course, raising more than €60,000 for the charity in doing so.


Limerick: Skyfest for Limerick in March

For only the third time the fireworks and musical spectacular known as the National Lottery Skyfest is taking place outside Dublin, with Limerick as the chosen location. The display will be part of the city’s St Patrick’s Festival celebrations and will be televised nationally, giving an opportunity to showcase Limerick as a destination for visitors. Taking place in St John’s Castle, the display will involve some thirty people taking six days in the setting up almost three tonnes of fireworks. In addition to the display itself being televised, the National Lottery will also come live from Limerick on March 13.


Longford: Mass is said in transformed Sports Hall

Last weekend saw the first Mass being celebrated in St Mel’s Sports Hall following the Christmas Day fire in the cathedral, but it was a sports hall that had been transformed. Overseen by Fr Tom Healy, who concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Colm O’Reilly, a reproduction of the tapestry that hung behind the cathedral altar was in place, as were reproductions of the Harry Clarke Studio stained glass windows, all created by local man Noel Strange. Particularly significant was a cross made of charred timber from the cathedral. Bishop O’Reilly read out a letter and apostolic blessing from Pope Benedict to the people of the diocese.


Louth: Safefood project brings marginalised together

The North/South agency Safefood is behind a project being run at the Simon House in Dundalk which has brought together six service users from Simon and six from Rehabcare. The twelve, under the direction of Anne Hynes, have prepared the half-acre site at the back of the Simon house in Seatown for use as a vegetable garden. They have laid paths and set up raised beds and, in addition to learning about and growing vegetables, the participants will also be instructed in basic cookery so that they can use the food they have grown. As well as taking home the vegetables they grow, all the participants also have their own herb boxes, and any excess produce will be sold at the Farmers’ Market in Dundalk.


Mayo: New venue for Clare Island

The county is looking forward to a boost in its appeal to tourists. Galway-born Jim Cox, living in New York for the past twenty-four years, has just received the go ahead to open a ten bedroom lodge and activity centre on Clare Island which will include a bar and restaurant. The tourist attraction, which will be situated at Capnagower, close to the Bayview Hotel, is set to begin construction in June. The family business has been in the planning stages for the past five years and Jim and his family aim to promote cultural events; they will be placing a big emphasis on Irish music and dancing and hope to open to the public in May of next year.


Meath: Local man disrupts road building

Wayne Gilsenan, who lives beside the new M3 in Kells, has taken exception to what he sees as a failure of the National Roads Authority to honour its commitment to screen the new road from his house. Mr Gilsenan, whose house will be overlooked by traffic, is looking for a concrete fence to be built to ensure privacy for his family and safety for his young son. In protest he parked his car on the new road for over an hour one day last week, disrupting work on the road. Mr Gilsenan maintains that other properties further away from the road have already been provided with the fencing that he is seeking.

Monaghan: Two new awards at drama festival

Two new awards commemorating a man closely associated with the Castleblayney Drama Festival are to be presented this year. Tommy Duffy, who died late last year, was involved in the set design for a number of the Castleblaney Players’ productions and one award has been presented by the Duffy Festival. The festival committee has commissioned the second award, and each will be presented to the drama group with the best set, in the Open and the Confined categories. This year’s festival is to be officially opened on Friday by Gary Carville, a member of the county council who is also a respected musician, historian and lecturer.

Offaly: Tullamore artist exhibiting in New York

Siobhán McCormack Ryan from Tullamore is mounting an exhibition in the Irish Consulate in New York as part of the city’s celebrations for St Patrick’s Day. Siobhán has dedicated the exhibition of specially commissioned work to the late Edel Duignan, a close friend. The official opening will take place next Monday at which author Geraldine O’Neill from Dangan will read from her work. Siobhán’s work focuses mainly on the landscape and monastic sites of her native county and each is accompanied by a bilingual literary interpretation by Dr Daithi O’Hogain, Professor of Irish Folklore and Traditional Literature at University College Dublin.

Roscommon: Novel fundraiser for Haiti in Ballaghaderreen

Ronan Gray, who is to travel to Haiti with the Haven Charity at the end of April, has come up with an unusual fundraiser to help him on his way to volunteer with the house-building charity. He has invited people to come along to the Phoenix Centre in Ballaghaderreen next Saturday and all those who give a donation will be offered a choice of holistic healing therapy in exchange. In addition to guided meditation, therapies on offer include Indian Head Massage, Reflexology, Reiki and Spiritual Healing. Local therapists will be joined by a team from Healing Hands in Sligo while a team from Molloy’s Lifestyle Pharmacy will offer advice on healthy lifestyles and nutrition.


Sligo: Second stroke of luck for Ballygawley family

More than ten years ago Michael McHugh from Ballygawley appeared on RTE’s Winning Streak programme in place of his father who had been picked to appear. At that time Michael took home £14,000 to his father. Now history has repeated itself with Michael’s wife Bernie, originally from Killala, taking her place on the programme in place of her mother-in-law Eileen Jackson McHugh. Bernie was chosen to spin the wheel on the show, winning €250,000 in addition to a holiday in New Zealand and a new Toyota car. The McHugh family had purchased the winning ticket in Cecil’s foodstore in Collooney.


Tipperary: Semple Stadium’s forerunner in Cashel?

Archaeologists investigating Rathnadrinna Fort, about three kilometres south of the Rock of Cashel, believe that it might once have been used as a sporting arena. The team, headed by Richard O’Brien, found that the ringfort was lacking the usual signs of houses, hearths or rubbish pits, but it does have evidence of a circle of wooden posts, indicating that it might have been used for ceremonial purposes. In addition, the Rathnadrinna Fort has three perimeter ditches, while the more usual Bronze Age forts had just one. The survey of the site, which has never before been excavated, was funded by the Heritage Council.

Tyrone: Heather is fundraising for Haiti

A table quiz in Cookstown Hockey Club, a coffee morning in Ardboe parish St Columb’s Church Hall, and a Colour Me Beautiful evening in Moyola Golf Club in Castledawson are among the fundraising events organised by Heather Crawford from Dungannon. Heather, a physiotherapist in South Tyrone Hospital, is to work with OMS in Haiti, a non-denominational faith mission which has had a presence in Haiti since the middle of the last century. She will travel later this month, and will be based in Cap Haitian, a city which has increased in population since earthquake victims have been moved to the city away from Port Au Prince.


Waterford: Lucky numbers pay off for Mark

Mark Furlong, originally from Wexford but now based in Waterford where he runs the Nursery Rhymes pram shop, stayed faithful over nine years to a series of numbers he bought from a fortune teller in Blackpool, and last weekend his loyalty paid off. Mark, married to Gillian and the father of two children, shared a jackpot of €5.6m with an as yet unnamed Galway winner. The thirty-one-year old has pledged to share his winnings not only with his wife and children, but also with his sister Michelle, as the two had a long-standing agreement that they would share any lotto winnings they had.

Westmeath: Bobby is heading for the heat

Bobby McDermott from Ballymore is one of seven hundred runners who will be taking part in this year’s Marathon Des Sables, a marathon across the Sahara Desert which is said to be the toughest footrace in the world. Bobby is no stranger to long-distance running, having taken part this year in marathons in Dingle, Barcelona, Belfast and Dublin, and his background is also athletics-oriented as his parents, Seamus and Betty McDermott, ran with the Mullingar Harriers. One of twelve Irish people taking part in the marathon, Bobby is using his participation to raise money for Barnardo’s and hopes to realise €10,000.


Wexford: Wexford hall to reopen

After two years, and a transformation from one to two storeys, St Michael’s Hall on Green Street in Wexford town is to open next month. The community hall, owned by the St Vincent de Paul Society, had to be partially demolished after it was both vandalised and set on fire. The renewed hall, in addition to housing the administrative offices of the society and a depot for the collection of clothes, will also have rooms available for community groups and clubs. The clothes collected are sold from the second hand shop, Fred’s Fashions in Selskar, itself also the subject of recent refurbishment.

Wicklow: Mary and Neasa spread the word on Wicklow

Mary and Neasa Clissmann, of Clissmann’s Horse Caravan and Donkey Walking Holidays based in Rathdrum, have been travelling Europe to spread the word about the tourist attractions of the county. While Mary was at the Salon International du Tourisme in Rennes, Neasa was at the Holiday Fair in Brussels. Mary received the Meilleur Acceuil prize for her stand for giving the best welcome to visitors while Neasa ensured that a Belgian TV company will include the Clissmann centre in a film to be shot in the county in Wicklow. Neasa is also attending the F.R.E.E. Munich Trade Fair and the ITB in Berlin.






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